In-House Consulting on Ethical Issues October 17, 2008
The desire to ensure that law firm members comply with their ethical obligations has given rise to the designation of "ethics counsel" within law firms to whom the firm and its members may turn for advice on ethics matters. Ethics consultations within law firms create client-lawyer relationships separate from those between law firms and their outside clients. A firm's ethics counsel typically represents the organization as a whole, and not individual firm lawyers, although simultaneous representation of an individual firm member is permitted where no conflict exists between the firm and the individual lawyer. A firm's ethics counsel may be obligated to disclose an individual lawyer's ethical violations to firm management. Whether ethical misconduct must be reported to disciplinary authorities will be determined under the principles that generally apply to lawyers advising clients. The obligation to disclose an individual lawyer's possible misconduct to the firm's client turns on the firm's duty fully to inform the client on matters related to the representation.
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