All 50 states govern lawyer advertising through their Rules of Professional Conduct, often known as “ethics rules.” The rules in each state are unique to that state. Therefore, it is imperative that lawyers familiarize themselves with the rules of the states that govern their conduct.

Rule 7.1 - Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

Comment

[1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2] Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. In the absence of special circumstances that serve to protect the probable targets of a communication from being misled or deceived, a communication will violate Rule 7.1 if it:

(1) is intended or is likely to result in a legal action or a legal position being asserted merely to harass or maliciously injure another;

(2) contains statistical data or other information based on past performance or an express or implied prediction of future success;

(3) contains a claim about a lawyer, made by a third party, that the lawyer could not personally make consistent with the requirements of this rule;

(4) appeals primarily to a lay person’s fear, greed, or desire for revenge;

(5) compares the services provided by the lawyer or a law firm with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;

(6) contains any reference to results obtained that may reasonably create an expectation of similar results in future matters;

(7) contains a dramatization or re-creation of events unless the advertising clearly and conspicuously discloses that a dramatization or re-creation is being presented;

(8) contains a representation, testimonial, or endorsement of a lawyer or other statement that, in light of all the circumstances, is intended or is likely to create an unjustified expectation about a lawyer or law firm or a person’s legal rights;

(9) states or implies that a lawyer is a certified or recognized specialist other than as permitted by Rule 7.4;

(10) is prohibited by Rule 7.3.

[3] See also Rule 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Rule 7.2 - Advertising

(a) Subject to the requirements of this rule, lawyers and law firms may advertise their professional services and law related services. The term “advertise” as used in these Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct refers to any manner of public communication partly or entirely intended or expected to promote the purchase or use of the professional services of a lawyer, law firm, or any employee of either involving the practice of law or law-related services.

(b) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending or advertising the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may:

(1) pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this Rule;

(2) pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service described in Rule 7.3(d);

(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17; and

(4) refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if

(i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and

(ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement.

(c) Any communication subject to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content. The lawyer or law firm responsible for the content of any communication subject to this rule shall keep a copy or recording of each such communication for six years after its dissemination.

Comment

[1] To assist the public in obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public’s need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising.

[2] Provided that the advertising otherwise complies with the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct, permissible subjects of advertising include:

(1) name and contact information, including the name and contact information for an attorney, a law firm, and professional associates;

(2) one or more fields of law in which the lawyer or law firm practices, using commonly accepted and understood definitions and designations;

(3) date and place of birth;

(4) date and place of admission to the bar of state and federal courts;

(5) schools attended, with dates of graduation, degrees, and other scholastic distinctions;

(6) academic, public or quasi-public, military, or professional positions held;

(7) military service;

(8) legal authorship;

(9) legal teaching position;

(10) memberships, offices, and committee assignments, in bar professional, scientific, or technical associations or societies;

(11) memberships and offices in legal fraternities and legal societies;

(12) technical and professional licenses;

(13) memberships in scientific, technical, and professional associations and societies;

(14) foreign language ability;

(15) names and addresses of bank references;

(16) professional liability insurance coverage;

(17) prepaid or group legal services programs in which the lawyer participates as allowed by Rule 7.3(d);

(18) whether credit cards or other credit arrangements are accepted;

(19) office and telephone answering service hours; and

(20) fees charged and other terms of service pursuant to which an attorney is willing to provide legal or law-related services.

[3] Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.

[4] Lawyers are not permitted to pay others for channeling professional work. Paragraph (b)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, banner ads, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents, and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff, and website designers. See Rule 5.3 for the duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of non-lawyers who prepare marketing materials for them.

Rule 7.3 - Direct Contact with prospective Clients

(a) A lawyer (including the lawyer’s employee or agent) shall not by in-person, live telephone, or real–time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:

(1) is a lawyer; or

(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.

(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by in-person or by written, recorded, audio, video, or electronic communication, including the Internet, if:

(1) the prospective client has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer;

(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment;

(3) the solicitation concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the solicitation is addressed or a relative of that person, unless the accident or disaster occurred more than 30 days prior to the initiation of the solicitation;

(4) the solicitation concerns a specific matter and the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the person to whom the solicitation is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter; or

(5) the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the physical, emotional, or mental state of the person makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer.

(c) Every written, recorded, or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a prospective client potentially in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the words “Advertising Material” conspicuously placed both on the face of any outside envelope and at the beginning of any written communication, and both at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2). A copy of each such communication shall be filed with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission at or prior to its dissemination to the prospective client. A filing fee in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) payable to the “Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission Fund” shall accompany each such filing. In the event a written, recorded, or electronic communication is distributed to multiple prospective clients, a single copy of the mailing less information specific to the intended recipients, such as name, address (including email address) and date of mailing, may be filed with the Commission. Each time any such communication is changed or altered, a copy of the new or modified communication shall be filed with the Disciplinary Commission at or prior to the time of its mailing or distribution. The lawyer shall retain a list containing the names and addresses, including email addresses, of all persons or entities to whom each communication has been mailed or distributed for a period of not less than one (1) year following the last date of mailing or distribution. Communications filed pursuant to this subdivision shall be open to public inspection.

(d) A lawyer shall not accept referrals from, make referrals to, or solicit clients on behalf of any lawyer referral service unless such service falls within clauses (1)-(4) below. A lawyer or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm may be recommended, employed, or paid by, or cooperate with, one of the following offices or organizations that promote the use of the lawyer’s services or those of the lawyer’s firm, if there is no interference with the exercise of independent professional judgment on behalf of a client of the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm:

(1) A legal office or public defender office:

(A) operated or sponsored on a not-for-profit basis by a law school accredited by the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar;

(B) operated or sponsored on a not-for-profit basis by a bona fide non-profit community organization;

(C) operated or sponsored on a not-for-profit basis by a governmental agency;

(D) operated, sponsored, or approved in writing by the Indiana State Bar Association, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, any bona fide county or city bar association within the State of Indiana, or any other bar association whose lawyer referral service has been sanctioned for operation in Indiana by the Indiana Disciplinary Commission; and

(E) operated by a Circuit or Superior Court within the State of Indiana.

(2) A military legal assistance office;

(3) A lawyer referral service operated, sponsored, or approved by any organization listed in clause (1)(D); or

(4) Any other non-profit organization that recommends, furnishes, or pays for legal services to its members or beneficiaries, but only if the following conditions are met:

(A) the primary purposes of such organization do not include the rendition of legal services;

(B) the recommending, furnishing, or paying for legal services to its members is incidental and reasonably related to the primary purposes of such organization;

(C) such organization does not derive a financial benefit from the rendition of legal services by the lawyer; and

(D) the member or beneficiary for whom the legal services are rendered, and not such organization, is recognized as the client of the lawyer in the matter.

(e) A lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure the lawyer’s employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in the lawyer’s employment by a client, except that the lawyer may pay for public communication permitted by Rule 7.2 and the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a lawyer referral service falling within the provisions of paragraph (d) above.

(f) A lawyer shall not accept employment when the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the person who seeks the lawyer’s services does so as a result of lawyer conduct prohibited under this Rule 7.3.

Comment

[1] There is a potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact by a lawyer with a prospective client known to need legal services. These forms of contact between a lawyer and a prospective client subject the layperson to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The prospective client, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer’s presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching.

[2] This potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic solicitation of prospective clients justifies its prohibition, particularly since lawyer advertising and written and recorded communication permitted under Rule 7.2 offer alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may be in need of legal services.

[3] The use of general advertising and written, recorded, or electronic communications to transmit information from lawyer to prospective client, rather than direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact, will help to assure that the information flows cleanly as well as freely. The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under Rule 7.2 can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed and may be shared with others who know the lawyer. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false and misleading communications, in violation of Rule 7.1. The contents of direct in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic conversations between a lawyer and a prospective client can be disputed and may not be subject to third-party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach (and occasionally cross) the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.

[4] There is far less likelihood that a lawyer would engage in abusive practices against an individual who is a former client, or with whom the lawyer has close personal or family relationship, or in situations in which the lawyer is motivated by considerations other than the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. Nor is there a serious potential for abuse when the person contacted is a lawyer. Consequently, the general prohibition in Rule 7.3(a) and the requirements of Rule 7.3(c) are not applicable in those situations. Also, paragraph (a) is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from participating in constitutionally protected activities of public or charitable legal-service organizations or bona fide political, social, civic, fraternal, employee, or trade organizations whose purposes include providing or recommending legal services to its members or beneficiaries.

[5] But even permitted forms of solicitation can be abused. Thus, any solicitation which contains information which is false or misleading within the meaning of Rule 7.1, which involves coercion, duress, or harassment within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(2), or which involves contact with a prospective client who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(1) is prohibited. Moreover, if after sending a letter or other communication to a client as permitted by Rule 7.2, the lawyer receives no response, any further effort to communicate with the prospective client may violate the provisions of Rule 7.3(b).

[6] This rule allows targeted solicitation of potential plaintiffs or claimants in personal injury and wrongful death causes of action or other causes of action that relate to an accident, disaster, death, or injury, but only if such solicitation is initiated no less than 30 days after the incident. This restriction is reasonably required by the sensitized state of the potential clients, who may be either injured or grieving over the loss of a family member, and the abuses that experience has shown exist in this type of solicitation.

Rule 7.4 - Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization

(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.

(b) A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation.

(c) A lawyer engaged in Admiralty practice may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or a substantially similar designation.

(d) A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:

(1) The lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an Independent Certifying Organization accredited by the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 30; and,

(2) The certifying organization is identified in the communication.

(e) Pursuant to rule-making powers inherent in its ability and authority to police and regulate the practice of law by attorneys admitted to practice law in the State of Indiana, the Indiana Supreme Court hereby vests exclusive authority for accreditation of Independent Certifying Organizations that certify specialists in legal practice areas and fields in the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education. The Commission shall be the exclusive accrediting body in Indiana, for purposes of Rule 7.4(d)(1), above; and shall promulgate rules and guidelines for accrediting Independent Certifying Organizations that certify specialists in legal practice areas and fields. The rules and guidelines shall include requirements of practice experience, continuing legal education, objective examination; and, peer review and evaluation, with the purpose of providing assurance to the consumers of legal services that the attorneys attaining certification within areas of specialization have demonstrated extraordinary proficiency within those areas of specialization. The Supreme Court shall retain review oversight with respect to the Commission, its requirements, and its rules and guidelines. The Supreme Court retains the power to alter or amend such requirements, rules and guidelines; and, to review the actions of the Commission in respect to this Rule 7.4.

Comment

[1] Paragraph (a) of this Rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer’s services. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in a specified field or fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate.

[2] Paragraph (b) recognizes the long-established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office for the designation of lawyers practicing before the Office. Paragraph (c) recognizes that designation of Admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.

Rule 7.5 - Firm Names and Letterheads

(a) Firm names, letterheads, and other professional designations are subject to the following requirements:

(1) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1.

(2) The name of a professional corporation, professional association, limited liability partnership, or limited liability company may contain, “P.C.”, “P.A.,” “LLP,” or “LLC” or similar symbols indicating the nature of the organization.

(3) If otherwise lawful a firm may use as, or continue to include in, its name, the name or names of one or more deceased or retired members of the firm or of a predecessor firm in a continuing line of succession. See Admission & Discipline Rule 27.

(4) A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice subject to the following requirements:

(i) the name shall not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization and shall not otherwise violate Rule 7.1.

(ii) the name shall include the name of a lawyer (or the name of a deceased or retired member of the firm, or of a predecessor firm in a manner that complies with subparagraph (2) above).

(iii) the name shall not include words other than words that comply with clause (ii) above and words that:

(A) identify the field of law in which the firm concentrates its work, or

(B) describe the geographic location of its offices, or

(C) indicate a language fluency.

(b) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name or other professional designation in Indiana if the name or other designation does not violate paragraph (a) and the identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm indicates the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in Indiana.

(c) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm. A member of a part-time legislative body such as the General Assembly, a county or city council, or a school board is not subject to this rule.

(d) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when they in fact do so.

Comment

[1] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm’s identity, or by a trade name that complies with the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer or law firm may also be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. The use of a trade name in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading and otherwise complies with the requirements of paragraph (a)(4). A firm name that includes the name of a deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm, or the name of a non-lawyer.

[2] With regard to paragraph (d), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, “Smith and Jones,” for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.

Rule 1.6 - Confidentiality of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

(2) to prevent the client from committing a crime or from committing fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services;

(3) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services;

(4) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;

(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client; or

(6) to comply with other law or a court order.

(c) In the event of a lawyer’s physical or mental disability or the appointment of a guardian or conservator of an attorney’s client files, disclosure of a client’s names and files is authorized to the extent necessary to carry out the duties of the person managing the lawyer’s files.

Comment

[1] This Rule governs the disclosure by a lawyer of information relating to the representation of a client during the lawyer’s representation of the client. See Rule 1.18 for the lawyer’s duties with respect to information provided to the lawyer by a prospective client, Rule 1.9(c)(2) for the lawyer’s duty not to reveal information relating to the lawyer’s prior representation of a former client and Rules 1.8(b) and 1.9(c)(1) for the lawyer’s duties with respect to the use of such information to the disadvantage of clients and former clients.

[2] A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client’s informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See Rule 1.0(e) for the definition of informed consent. This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct. Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct. Based upon experience, lawyers know that almost all clients follow the advice given, and the law is upheld.

[3] The principle of client-lawyer confidentiality is given effect by related bodies of law: the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and the rule of confidentiality established in professional ethics. The attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client. The rule of client-lawyer confidentiality applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law. The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. See also Scope.

[4] Paragraph (a) prohibits a lawyer from revealing information relating to the representation of a client. This prohibition also applies to disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person. A lawyer’s use of a hypothetical to discuss issues relating to the representation is permissible so long as there is no reasonable likelihood that the listener will be able to ascertain the identity of the client or the situation involved.

Authorized Disclosure

[5] Except to the extent that the client’s instructions or special circumstances limit that authority, a lawyer is impliedly authorized to make disclosures about a client when appropriate in carrying out the representation. In some situations, for example, a lawyer may be impliedly authorized to admit a fact that cannot properly be disputed or to make a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion to a matter. Lawyers in a firm may, in the course of the firm’s practice, disclose to each other information relating to a client of the firm, unless the client has instructed that particular information be confined to specified lawyers.

Disclosure Adverse to Client

[6] Although the public interest is usually best served by a strict rule requiring lawyers to preserve the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions. Paragraph (b)(1) recognizes the overriding value of life and physical integrity and permits disclosure reasonably necessary to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. Such harm is reasonably certain to occur if it will be suffered imminently or if there is a present and substantial threat that a person will suffer such harm at a later date if the lawyer fails to take action necessary to eliminate the threat. Thus, a lawyer who knows that a client has accidentally discharged toxic waste into a town’s water supply may reveal this information to the authorities if there is a present and substantial risk that a person who drinks the water will contract a life-threatening or debilitating disease and the lawyer’s disclosure is necessary to eliminate the threat or reduce the number of victims.

[7] Paragraph (b)(2) is a limited exception to the rule of confidentiality that permits the lawyer to reveal information to the extent necessary to enable affected persons or appropriate authorities to prevent the client from committing a crime or from committing fraud, as defined in Rule 1.0(d), that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial or property interests of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services. Such a serious abuse of the client-lawyer relationship by the client forfeits the protection of this Rule. The client can, of course, prevent such disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct. Although paragraph (b)(2) does not require the lawyer to reveal the client’s misconduct, the lawyer may not counsel or assist the client in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. See Rule 1.2(d). See also Rule 1.16 with respect to the lawyer’s obligation or right to withdraw from the representation of the client in such circumstances, and Rule 1.13(c), which permits the lawyer, where the client is an organization, to reveal information relating to the representation in limited circumstances.

[8] Paragraph (b)(3) addresses the situation in which the lawyer does not learn of the client’s crime or fraud until after it has been consummated. Although the client no longer has the option of preventing disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct, there will be situations in which the loss suffered by the affected person can be prevented, rectified or mitigated. In such situations, the lawyer may disclose information relating to the representation to the extent necessary to enable the affected persons to prevent or mitigate reasonably certain losses or to attempt to recoup their losses. Paragraph (b)(3) does not apply when a person who has committed a crime or fraud thereafter employs a lawyer for representation concerning that offense.

[9] A lawyer’s confidentiality obligations do not preclude a lawyer from securing confidential legal advice about the lawyer’s personal responsibility to comply with these Rules. In most situations, disclosing information to secure such advice will be impliedly authorized for the lawyer to carry out the representation. Even when the disclosure is not impliedly authorized, paragraph (b)(4) permits such disclosure because of the importance of a lawyer’s compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[10] Where a legal claim or disciplinary charge alleges complicity of the lawyer in a client’s conduct or other misconduct of the lawyer involving representation of the client, the lawyer may respond to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to establish a defense. The same is true with respect to a claim involving the conduct or representation of a former client. Such a charge can arise in a civil, criminal, disciplinary or other proceeding and can be based on a wrong allegedly committed by the lawyer against the client or on a wrong alleged by a third person, for example, a person claiming to have been defrauded by the lawyer and client acting together. The lawyer’s right to respond arises when an assertion of such complicity has been made. Paragraph (b)(5) does not require the lawyer to await the commencement of an action or proceeding that charges such complicity, so that the defense may be established by responding directly to a third party who has made such an assertion. The right to defend also applies, of course, where a proceeding has been commenced.

[11] A lawyer entitled to a fee is permitted by paragraph (b)(5) to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it. This aspect of the rule expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit it to the detriment of the fiduciary.

[12] Other law may require that a lawyer disclose information about a client. Whether such a law supersedes Rule 1.6 is a question of law beyond the scope of these Rules. When disclosure of information relating to the representation appears to be required by other law, the lawyer must discuss the matter with the client to the extent required by Rule 1.4. If, however, the other law supersedes this Rule and requires disclosure, paragraph (b)(6) permits the lawyer to make such disclosures as are necessary to comply with the law.

[13] A lawyer may be ordered to reveal information relating to the representation of a client by a court or by another tribunal or governmental entity claiming authority pursuant to other law to compel the disclosure. Absent informed consent of the client to do otherwise, the lawyer should assert on behalf of the client all nonfrivolous claims that the order is not authorized by other law or that the information sought is protected against disclosure by the attorney-client privilege or other applicable law. In the event of an adverse ruling, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal to the extent required by Rule 1.4. Unless review is sought, however, paragraph (b)(6) permits the lawyer to comply with the court’s order.

[14] Paragraph (b) permits disclosure only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to accomplish one of the purposes specified. Where practicable, the lawyer should first seek to persuade the client to take suitable action to obviate the need for disclosure. In any case, a disclosure adverse to the client’s interest should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to accomplish the purpose. If the disclosure will be made in connection with a judicial proceeding, the disclosure should be made in a manner that limits access to the information to the tribunal or other persons having a need to know it and appropriate protective orders or other arrangements should be sought by the lawyer to the fullest extent practicable.

[15] Paragraph (b) permits but does not require the disclosure of information relating to a client’s representation to accomplish the purposes specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6). In exercising the discretion conferred by this Rule, the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer’s own involvement in the transaction and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question. A lawyer’s decision not to disclose as permitted by paragraph (b) does not violate this Rule. Disclosure may be required, however, by other Rules. Some Rules require disclosure only if such disclosure would be permitted by paragraph (b). See Rules 1.2(d), 4.1(b), 8.1 and 8.3. Rule 3.3, on the other hand, requires disclosure in some circumstances regardless of whether such disclosure is permitted by this Rule. See Rule 3.3(c).

Acting Competently to Preserve Confidentiality

[16] A lawyer must act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer’s supervision. See Rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3.

[17] When transmitting a communication that includes information relating to the representation of a client, the lawyer must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement. A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to the use of a means of communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule.

Former Client

[18] The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. See Rule 1.9(c)(2). See Rule 1.9(c)(1) for the prohibition against using such information to the disadvantage of the former client.

Disability of an Attorney

[19] Paragraph (c) is intended to operate in conjunction with Ind. Admission and Discipline Rule 23, Section 27, as well as such other arrangements as may be implemented by agreement to deal with the physical or mental disability of a lawyer.

*This information is provided as a convenience to the viewers of this material. Viewers should conduct their own research or rely on the advice of a lawyer before relying on the information here.