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ABA clarifys rule on legal outsourcing

In our second legalish posting of the day we have news from the American Bar Association, whose Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has just issued a Formal Opinion 08-451, titled Lawyer’s Obligations When Outsourcing Legal and Nonlegal Support Services. The opinion, issued on August 25, 2008, concludes that US lawyers are free to outsource legal work to lawyers or nonlawyers in or outside of the country and lays out some ethical ground rules for doing so.
According to the opinion, 'a lawyer may outsource legal or nonlegal support services provided the lawyer remains ultimately responsible for rendering competent legal services to the client' as long as:
• The lawyer makes reasonable efforts to make sure the conduct of those to whom tasks are outsourced is aligned with his or her own professional obligations and the attorney retains 'direct supervisory authority.'
• The lawyer discloses to and receives consent from the client.
• The fees charged must be reasonable and otherwise in compliance with the obligations under Rule 1.5 governing the use of contract attorneys, and
• The lawyer must avoid assisting the unauthorized practice of law.
More information, including a link to the opinion, visit