Rule 1.0. Terminology.
(a) Belief or believes denotes that the person involved actually supposed the fact in question to be true. A persons belief may be inferred from circumstances.
(b) Confirmed in writing, when used in reference to the informed consent of a person, denotes an informed consent that is given in writing by the person or a writing that a lawyer promptly transmits to the person confirming an oral informed consent. See paragraph (e) for the definition of informed consent. If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit the writing at the time the person gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter.
(c) Firm or law firm denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a law partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship or other association authorized to practice law; or lawyers employed in a legal services organization or the legal department of a corporation or other organization.
(d) Fraud or fraudulent denotes conduct that is fraudulent under the substantive or procedural law of the applicable jurisdiction and has a purpose to deceive.
(e) Informed consent denotes the consent by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.
(f) Knowingly, Known, or Knows denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A persons knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.
(g) Partner denotes an equity owner in a law firm, whether in the capacity of a partner in a partnership, a shareholder in a professional corporation, a member in a limited liability company, a beneficiary of a business trust, a member of an association authorized to practice law, or otherwise.
(h) Reasonable or Reasonably when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer.
(i) Reasonable belief or Reasonably believes when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that the lawyer believes the matter in question and that the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.
(j) Reasonably should know when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would ascertain the matter in question.
(k) Screened denotes the isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a matter through the timely imposition of procedures within a firm that are reasonably adequate under the circumstances to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect under these Rules or other law.
(l) Substantial when used in reference to degree or extent denotes a material matter of clear and weighty importance.
(m) Tribunal denotes a court, an arbitrator in a binding arbitration proceeding or a legislative body, administrative agency or other body acting in an adjudicative capacity. A legislative body, administrative agency or other body acts in an adjudicative capacity when a neutral official, after the presentation of evidence or legal argument by a party or parties, will render a binding legal judgment directly affecting a partys interests in a particular matter.
(n) Writing or written denotes a tangible or electronic record of a communication or representation, including handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photography, audio or video recording, and electronic communications. A signed writing includes an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a writing and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the writing.
Confirmed in Writing
(1) If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit a written confirmation at the time the client gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter. If a lawyer has obtained a clients informed consent, the lawyer may act in reliance on that agreement of consent so long as it is confirmed in writing within a reasonable time thereafter.
(2) The terms of any formal agreement between associated lawyers are relevant in determining whether they are a firm, as is the fact that they have mutual access to information concerning the clients they serve. Furthermore, it is relevant in doubtful cases to consider the underlying purpose of the Rule that is involved. A group of lawyers could be regarded as a firm for purposes of a rule that the same lawyer should not represent opposing parties in litigation, e.g., Rules 1.7(a), 1.10(a), while it might not be so regarded for purposes of a rule that information acquired by one lawyer is attributed to another, e.g., Rule 1.10(b).
(3) With respect to the law department of an organization, including the government, there is ordinarily no question that the members of the department constitute a firm within the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct. There can be uncertainty, however, as to the identity of the client. For example, it may not be clear whether the law department of a corporation represents a subsidiary or an affiliated corporation, as well as the corporation by which the members of the department are directly employed. A similar question can arise concerning an unincorporated association and its local affiliates.
(4) Similar questions can also arise with respect to lawyers in legal aid and legal services organizations. Depending upon the structure of the organization, the entire organization or different components of it may constitute a firm or firms for purposes of these Rules.
(5) When used in these Rules, the terms fraud and fraudulent refer to conduct that is characterized as such under the substantive or procedural law of the applicable jurisdiction and has a purpose to deceive. This does not include merely negligent misrepresentation or negligent failure to apprise another of relevant information. For purposes of these Rules, it is not necessary that anyone has suffered damages or relied on the misrepresentation or failure to inform.
(6) Many of the Rules of Professional Conduct require the lawyer to obtain the informed consent of a client or other person (e.g., a former client or, under certain circumstances, a prospective client) before accepting or continuing representation or pursuing a course of conduct. See, e.g., Rules 1.2(c), 1.6(a), 1.7(b), 1.8(a)(3), (b), (f) and (g), 1.9(a) and (b), 1.10 (d), 1.11(a)(2) and (d)(2)(i), 1.12(a) and 1.18(d)(1). The communication necessary to obtain such consent will vary according to the Rule involved and the circumstances giving rise to the need to obtain informed consent. The lawyer must make reasonable efforts to ensure that the client or other person possesses information reasonably adequate to make an informed decision. Ordinarily, this will require communication that includes a disclosure of the facts and circumstances giving rise to the situation, any explanation reasonably necessary to inform the client or other person of the material advantages and disadvantages of the proposed course of conduct and a discussion of the clients or other persons options and alternatives. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for a lawyer to advise a client or other person to seek the advice of other counsel. A lawyer need not inform a client or other person of facts or implications already known to the client or other person; nevertheless, a lawyer who does not personally inform the client or other person assumes the risk that the client or other person is inadequately informed and the consent is invalid. In determining whether the information and explanation provided are reasonably adequate, relevant factors include whether the client or other person is experienced in legal matters generally and in making decisions of the type involved, and whether the client or other person is independently represented by other counsel in giving the consent. Normally, such persons need less information and explanation than others, and generally a client or other person who is independently represented by other counsel in giving the consent should be assumed to have given informed consent.
(7) Obtaining informed consent will usually require an affirmative response by the client or other person. In general, a lawyer may not assume consent from a clients or other persons silence. Consent may be inferred, however, from the conduct of a client or other person who has reasonably adequate information about the matter. Rule 1.8 (a) requires that a clients consent be obtained in a writing signed by the client. For a definition of signed, see paragraph (n). The term informed consent in Rule 1.0 and the guidance provided in the Comment should be understood in the context of legal ethics and is not intended to incorporate jurisprudence of medical malpractice law.
(8) This definition applies to situations where screening of a personally disqualified lawyer is permitted to remove imputation of a conflict of interest under Rules 1.10, 1.11, 1.12 or 1.18.
(9) The purpose of screening is to assure the affected parties that confidential information known by the personally disqualified lawyer remains protected. The personally disqualified lawyer should acknowledge the obligation not to communicate with any of the other lawyers in the firm with respect to the matter. Similarly, other lawyers in the firm who are working on the matter should be informed that the screening is in place and that they may not communicate with the personally disqualified lawyer with respect to the matter. Additional screening measures that are appropriate for the particular matter will depend on the circumstances. To implement, reinforce and remind all affected lawyers of the presence of the screening, it may be appropriate for the firm to undertake such procedures as a written undertaking by the screened lawyer to avoid any communication with other firm personnel and any contact with any firm files or other information, including information in electronic form, relating to the matter, written notice and instructions to all other firm personnel forbidding any communication with the screened lawyer relating to the matter, denial of access by the screened lawyer to firm files or other information, including information in electronic form, relating to the matter, and periodic reminders of the screen to the screened lawyer and all other firm personnel.
(10) In order to be effective, screening measures must be implemented as soon as practical after a lawyer or law firm knows or reasonably should know that there is a need for screening.
The provisions of this Rule 1.0 amended October 22, 2013, effective in 30 days, 43 Pa.B. 6641. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (309392) to (309395).
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