5.03 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants

With respect to a non-lawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

(a) 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

(b) a lawyer shall be subject to discipline for the conduct of such a person that would be a violation of these rules if engaged in by a lawyer if:

(1) the lawyer orders, encourages, or permits the conduct involved; or

(2) the lawyer:

(i) is a partner in the law firm in which the person is employed, retained by, or associated with; or is the general counsel of a government agency's legal department in which the person is employed, retained by or associated with; or has direct supervisory authority over such person; and

(ii) with knowledge of such misconduct by the nonlawyer knowingly fails to take reasonable remedial action to avoid or mitigate the consequences of that person's misconduct.

Comment:

1. Lawyers generally employ assistants in their practice, including secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. Such assistants act for the lawyer in rendition of the lawyer's professional services. A lawyer should give such assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client, and should be responsible for their work product. The measures employed in supervising non-lawyers should take account of the fact that they do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline.

2. Each lawyer in a position of authority in a law firm or in a government agency should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the organization has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the conduct of nonlawyers employed or retained by or associated with the firm or legal department is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. This ethical obligation includes lawyers having supervisory authority or intermediate managerial responsibilities in the law department of any enterprise or government agency.
 
 

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