Rule 6.5. Nonprofit and court-annexed limited legal services programs.

(a) A licensed paralegal practitioner who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited legal services to a client without expectation by either the licensed paralegal practitioner or the client that the licensed paralegal practitioner will provide continuing representation in the matter:

(a)(1) is subject to Rule 1.7 and 1.9(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct only if the licensed paralegal practitioner knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest; and

(a)(2) is subject to Rule 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct only if the licensed paralegal practitioner knows that another lawyer or licensed paralegal practitioner associated with the licensed paralegal practitioner in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the matter.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2), Rule 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.

 

Comment

[1] Legal services organizations, courts and various nonprofit organizations have established programs through which licensed paralegal practitioners provide short-term limited legal services such as advice for the completion of legal forms that will assist persons to address their legal problems without further representation by a licensed paralegal practitioner or lawyer. In these programs, such as legal-advice hotlines, advice-only clinics or pro se counseling programs, a client-licensed paralegal practitioner relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the licensed paralegal practitioner’s representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation. Such programs are normally operated under circumstances in which it is not feasible for a licensed paralegal practitioner to systematically screen for conflicts of interest as is generally required before undertaking a representation. See, e.g. Rules 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct.

[2] A licensed paralegal practitioner who provides short-term limited legal services pursuant to this Rule must secure the client’s informed consent to the limited scope of the representation. See Rule 1.2(c) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct. If a short-term limited representation would not be reasonable under the circumstances, the licensed paralegal practitioner may offer advice to the client but must also advise the client of the need for further assistance of counsel. Except as provided in this Rule, the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 1.6 and 1.9(c) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, are applicable to the limited representation.

[3] Because a licensed paralegal practitioner who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by this Rule ordinarily is not able to check systematically for conflicts of interest, paragraph (a) requires compliance with Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct only if the licensed paralegal practitioner knows that the representation presents a conflict of interest for the licensed paralegal practitioner, and with Rule 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct only if the licensed paralegal practitioner knows that another licensed paralegal practitioner or lawyer in the licensed paralegal practitioner’s firm is disqualified in the matter by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct.

[4] Because the limited nature of the services significantly reduces the risk of conflicts of interest with other matters being handled by the licensed paralegal practitioner’s firm, paragraph (b) provides that Rule 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule except as provided by paragraph (a)(2). Paragraph (a)(2) requires the participating licensed paralegal practitioner to comply with Rule 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct when the licensed paralegal practitioner knows that the licensed paralegal practitioner’s firm is disqualified by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a) of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct. By virtue of paragraph (b), however, a licensed paralegal practitioner’s participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the licensed paralegal practitioner’s firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program’s auspices. Nor will the personal disqualification of a licensed paralegal practitioner participating in the program be imputed to other licensed paralegal practitioners participating in the program.

[5] If, after commencing a short-term limited representation in accordance with this Rule, a licensed paralegal practitioner undertakes to represent the client in the matter on an ongoing basis, Rules 1.7, 1.9(a) and 1.10 of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct become applicable.

 

Effective November 1, 2018