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Identifying A Target

The Rules Provide Opportunities For Identifying A Target

1.    The Supreme Court Rules on Admission and Discipline of Attorneys, Article VII,  Part A-1, Practice of Law provides under Rule 721 for law firms to operate as corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.  Each of these organizational entities formed in compliance with the Professional Service Corporation Act or Limited Liability Company Act or under the Uniform Partnership Act can limit their personal liability by compliance with Rule 722.   Under  Rule 722, the attorneys in such organizational entities may limit their joint and several liability for claims arising out of professional services provided the insurance requirements are met.    The rules do not reduce or limit liability for one’s own acts or omissions and do not limit the ethical responsibilities of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

2.    Although as noted previously, the Rules of Professional Conduct do not create a cause of action, they are usable for establishing the standard of care.   (e.g.  Doe v. Roe, 289 Ill. App.3d 116 (1997).   Thus, using the Rules of Professional Conduct to expand those who might be liable is appropriate.  Consider Rule 5.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that requires reasonable supervision of lawyers and Rule 5.2 requiring reasonable efforts to assure that non-lawyers are in compliance with the Rules.  In the Matter of Rojek 01 CH 35.   Another example is where lawyers share space with other lawyers and allow someone to place their name on the door suggesting an association when one doesn’t exist is a violation of Rule 7.5(d) and if relied upon by the client, may expand the potential list of appropriate defendants.   ALawyers may state or imply that they practice in partnership or other organization only when that is the [email protected]  In the Matter of Sorensen 01 CH  58.

3.    Rule 1.5 (f) allows fee sharing arrangements.   The Rule provides that when lawyers enter into a fee-sharing arrangement, they must disclose the terms of the fee sharing arrangement and obtain the clients’ consent thereto in a written agreement, even where the client knows of the fee terms from the outset and the client confirmed the terms in writing. In re Spak, 188 Ill.2d 53 (1999).     The referring attorney must also assume legal responsibility for the undertaking, meaning potential financial responsibility for any malpractice action against the recipient of the referral.  In re Storment . 203 Ill.2d 378 (2002).     The assumption of legal responsibility must be provided in writing to the client for consent.   Albert Brooks Friedman, Ltd.  v. Malevitis, 304 Ill. App.3d 979 (1st Dist. 1999).

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