LAW FIRMS AND ASSOCIATIONS

 

Rule 5.1.  Responsibilities of a partner or supervisory lawyer.
Rule 5.2.  Responsibilities of a subordinate lawyer.
Rule 5.3.  Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.
Rule 5.4.  Professional independence of a lawyer.
Rule 5.5.  Unauthorized practice of law.
Rule 5.6.  Restrictions on right to practice.
Rule 5.7.  Limited liability legal practice.

 

 

Rule 5.1.  Responsibilities of a partner or supervisory lawyer.
      (a) A partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
      (b) A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
      (c) A lawyer shall be responsible for another lawyer’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if:
      (1) the lawyer orders or, with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
      (2) the lawyer is a partner in the law firm in which the other lawyer practices, or has direct supervisory authority over the other lawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

Rule 5.2.  Responsibilities of a subordinate lawyer.
      (a) A lawyer is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person.
      (b) A subordinate lawyer does not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct if that lawyer acts in accordance with a supervisory lawyer’s reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.

Rule 5.3.  Responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistants.
      With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
      (a) a partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firs has in effect measures  giving reasonable assurance that the persons’ conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
      (b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and
      (c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:
      (1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
      (2) the lawyer is a partner in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

Rule 5.4.  Professional independence of a lawyer.
      (a) A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:
      (1) an agreement by a lawyer with the lawyer’s firm, partner or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the lawyer’s death, to the lawyer’s estate or to one or more specified persons;
      (2) a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer;
      (3) a lawyer or law firm purchasing the practice of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer may, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 1.17, pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer an agreed-upon purchase price; and
      (4) a lawyer or law firm may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.
      (b) A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.
      (c) A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal service for another to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.
      (d) A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:
      (1) a nonlawyer owns any interest therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a lawyer may hold the stock or interest of the lawyer for a reasonable time during administration;
      (2) a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof; or
      (3) a nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer.

Rule 5.5.  Unauthorized practice of law.
      A lawyer shall not:
      (a) practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction; or
      (b) assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

Rule 5.6.  Restrictions on right to practice.
       A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:
      (a) a partnership or employment agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or
      (b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer’s right to practice is part of the settlement of a controversy between private parties.

Rule 5.7.  Limited liability legal practice.
      (a) A lawyer may be a member of a law firm that is organized as a limited liability company or registered limited liability partnership (collectively, “limited liability organizations”) solely to render professional legal services under the laws of West Virginia, including, but not limited to, the Uniform Limited Liability Act, W. Va. Code §§ 31B-1-101, et seq., and the Uniform Partnership Act, W. Va. Code §§ 47B-1-1, et seq., and may practice in or as such a limited liability organization, provided that such lawyer is otherwise licensed to practice in West Virginia and such law firm is registered pursuant to rules promulgated by The West Virginia State Bar.
      (b) Nothing in this rule or the laws under which a lawyer or law firm is organized shall relieve a lawyer from personal liability for the acts, errors, and omissions of such lawyer arising out of the performance of professional legal services.
      (c) Law firms wishing to practice as limited liability organizations under this rule shall comply with the rules of The West Virginia State Bar with regard to registration of limited liability organizations.
      (d) A law firm organized as a limited liability organization under the laws of any other state or jurisdiction of the United States solely for the purpose of rendering professional legal services and authorized to do business in West Virginia and which has at least one lawyer licensed to practice law in West Virginia may register in West Virginia as a limited liability organization under this rule by registering pursuant to rules promulgated by The West Virginia State Bar.