Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 7

PR AC TICE MANAGEMENT

OPTIONS FOR WORKING
WITH OTHER LAWYERS
By Rochelle Washington

L

awyers often collaborate with other
lawyers for a variety of reasons. Some
wish to reduce expenses, while others
want to gain knowledge or more
resources when handling expensive or
complicated matters.
To better serve their clients, lawyers have
several options available for collaboration. They
can hire contract lawyers for specific tasks on
a case-by-case basis. Some practitioners may
choose to form an ongoing of counsel relationship. Others may prefer co-counseling with
another lawyer or firm to share responsibility or
to meet the competency requirements of D.C.
Rule 1.1. Here is a brief explanation of when
and how lawyers develop these working
relationships.

CONTRACT LAWYERS
Attorneys can hire contract lawyers at all
experience levels to perform overflow work
without the long-term commitment of hiring
an employee. Contract lawyers may conduct
legal research, draft opinions on specific issues,
draft pleadings, or prepare discovery for a
matter. Those who plan to use a contract lawyer
should be certain of the attorney's competency
for the task involved. The hiring lawyer should
also specify in writing the tasks the contract
lawyer will handle, the fee involved, and any
other necessary terms of the agreement.
Attorneys working with contract lawyers may
have questions about informing their clients of
the relationship with the contract attorney and
of the related cost. D.C. Legal Ethics Opinion 284
provides guidance: "a lawyer should advise and
obtain consent from the client whenever the
proposed use of a temporary lawyer to perform
work on the client's matter appears reasonably
likely to be material to the representation or to
affect the client's reasonable expectations." As a
best practice, the fee agreement should include

standard language stating that the retained
lawyer can use contract lawyers and other professionals during the representation.

OF COUNSEL
An of counsel relationship is useful when a
lawyer needs another lawyer or firm's experience in an area that is ancillary to his or her
practice area. This relationship establishes close
ties without the need to form a formal business
partnership. Association with an of counsel
should add value to your firm.
There are unique ethical implications for this
type of relationship. Legal Ethics Opinion 338
contains a good overview of these issues. The
of counsel relationship means that the of
counsel is associated with your firm; therefore,
conflicts must be imputed between the hiring
firm and the of counsel under D.C. Rule 1.10.
If the of counsel has his or her own firm or is
part of another one, the hiring firm and the of
counsel's firm must be treated as one for the
purpose of checking conflicts. The downside of
an of counsel arrangement is that it can potentially restrict business opportunities for both
lawyers should a conflict exist or arise. If you
establish this type of relationship with another
lawyer or firm, you should refer to the January
2012 "Speaking of Ethics" column in Washington
Lawyer 1 or contact the D.C. Bar ethics counsel
for informal advice and guidance.

CO-COUNSEL
Co-counseling is another option for collaboration with other lawyers. This method is typically
used when a lawyer or firm takes on a matter
that requires more work, financial resources, or
expertise than what the lawyer may be able to
handle or provide on his or her own. However,
because the lawyer may have initiated or developed the business or perhaps has an existing
relationship with the client or potential client,
the initial lawyer may want to remain involved
in the case rather than refer it to another lawyer.

The client must approve this type of relationship. A writing is required under D.C. Rule 1.5(e),
which applies whenever lawyers who are not
in the same firm share a single fee paid by the
client. Rule 1.5(e) also imposes other requirements, so attorneys should review the rule carefully to ensure they are in compliance whenever
they are sharing fees with a lawyer not affiliated
with their firm. As is required by Rule 1.5(e), the
fee agreement should establish that both
lawyers will be responsible for all or some
aspects of the case and the level of responsibility of each lawyer. The fee agreement should
also specify the roles of each attorney and the
compensation involved. Unlike the of counsel
relationship, co-counseling does not carry the
burden of imputed conflicts. The conflicts
check you must perform for this relationship is
limited to a review of whether either or both
attorneys have a conflict of interest with the
specific matter.
These methods of collaboration can be
mutually beneficial to clients and the lawyers
involved. When choosing to work with other
lawyers, be mindful of the differences among
the options available to you and select the
best one to suit your needs. Each method of
collaboration has pros and cons that impact the
amount of supervision you must provide, the
fees and billing process, taxes, and the potential
for restrictions on future business.

NOTE
1	 	See dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications/
washington-lawyer/articles/january-2012-speakingof-ethics.cfm.

For more information on working with other
lawyers and the practical implications of doing so,
contact your D.C. Bar Practice Management
advisors, Dan Mills and Rochelle Washington, at
pmas@dcbar.org. To obtain informal ethics advice
and counsel, call the D.C. Bar Ethics Helpline at
202-737-4700, ext. 1010.

MARCH/APRIL 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

7


https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications/washington-lawyer/articles/january-2012-speaking-of-ethics.cfm https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications/washington-lawyer/articles/january-2012-speaking-of-ethics.cfm https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications/washington-lawyer/articles/january-2012-speaking-of-ethics.cfm

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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