Accountable Lawyers

The Kentucky Supreme Court is the ultimate authority over lawyers.  Practicing lawyers are officers of the court and they are governed by the Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

Briefly, here are the high points.

Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct – SCR 3.130

Rule 1.1 Competence

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

Rule 1.2 Scope of representation and allocation of authority

A lawyer must honor a client’s decision on the settlement of a civil action or resolution of a criminal proceeding, including whether the client will testify.

A lawyer shall not counsel or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent,

Rule 1.3 Diligence

A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

Rule 1.4 Communication

  • A lawyer shall promptly inform the client of any circumstance which requires the client’s informed consent.
  • A lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
  • A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
  • A lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
  • A lawyer shall clearly inform the client when the lawyer cannot do for the client what the lawyer knows the client expects to be done.
  • A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

Rule 1.5 Fees

Written fee agreements are recommended, but they are not mandatory.

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of information

A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent.

Rule 1.7 Conflict of interest: current clients

A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or

(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.

BUT, a lawyer may represent a client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;
(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;
(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and
(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing. The consultation shall include an explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.

Complaints against lawyers are sent to the Kentucky Bar Association for evaluation and possible investigation. The decision to discipline a lawyer is the responsibility of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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