Rule 6.3. Membership in Legal Services Organization

A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, apart from the law firm in which the lawyer practices, notwithstanding that the organization serves persons having interests adverse to a client of the lawyer. The lawyer shall not knowingly participate in a decision or action of the organization:

(a) if participating in the decision or action would be incompatible with the lawyer’s obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or

(b) where the decision or action could have a material adverse effect on the representation of a client of the organization whose interests are adverse to a client of the lawyer.

Background

The Louisiana Supreme Court adopted this rule on January 21, 2004. It became effective on March 1, 2004, and has not been amended since. This rule is identical to ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 6.3 (2002).

Comments to ABA Model Rule 6.3

[1] Lawyers should be encouraged to support and participate in legal service organizations. A lawyer who is an officer or a member of such an organization does not thereby have a client-lawyer relationship with persons served by the organization. However, there is potential conflict between the interests of such persons and the interests of the lawyer’s clients. If the possibility of such conflict disqualified a lawyer from serving on the board of a legal services organization, the profession’s involvement in such organizations would be severely curtailed.

[2] It may be necessary in appropriate cases to reassure a client of the organization that the representation will not be affected by conflicting loyalties of a member of the board. Established, written policies in this respect can enhance the credibility of such assurances.

Annotations

Generally

This rule addresses the potential conflicts of interest faced by a lawyer who serves in a legal-services organization in a nonlawyer capacity. Under this rule, a lawyer serving as a director, officer or member of such an organization is not necessarily conflicted out of representations that happen to be adverse to persons served by the organization. La. Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 6.3 (2004). This is so because a lawyer serving an organization in a nonlawyer capacity “does not thereby have a client-lawyer relationship” with the persons it serves. See Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 6.3 cmt. 1. Nevertheless, if the lawyer’s personal participation in a matter on behalf of the organization would be materially adverse to a client, the lawyer should refrain from participating. La. Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 6.3(a) (2004). Moreover, if the lawyer’s personal participation in a matter could have an adverse effect on a client of the organization, and the interests of that client are adverse to those of one of the lawyer’s private clients, the lawyer should refrain from participating. Id. Rule 6.3(b).

Disciplinary Sanctions

For the disciplinary sanctions that are appropriate for a lawyer’s failure to avoid conflicts of interest, see supra Annotations to Louisiana Rule 1.7.

Notes

This page was updated on August 6, 2013.