Ethics and Ethics of a Per Diem Attorney New York

Whether it’s a court appearance, a deposition, or a conference call, sometimes you need an extra pair of hands to get the job done. A per diem attorney new york is a great option for those times. The service works by connecting attorneys and arranging legal coverage on an as-needed basis. This article discusses the ethical issues involved in utilizing per diem attorney new york services and highlights some key things to keep in mind when hiring a lawyer for short-term legal coverage.

Can a New York lawyer ethically use an online service owned and operated by non-lawyers to request the assistance of per diem lawyers to handle upcoming calendar calls or court appearances?

The service provides users (referred to herein as “hiring lawyers”) with a list of attorneys who are available to act on a per-diem basis and handle court appearances or calendar calls on behalf of the hiring lawyer’s clients. Participating lawyers (referred to herein as “per diem lawyers”) set their own rates.

When a hiring lawyer sends a request to the Service, the service provides a list of participating lawyers along with their respective rates and areas of practice. The hiring lawyer then selects a per diem lawyer from the list to retain for the requested appearance.

After a per diem lawyer is retained, the hiring law firm typically assigns additional tasks to the per diem lawyer (e.g., preparing a motion or brief), but the per diem lawyer does not have direct client contact or may not be privy to confidential client information. The hiring law firm and the per diem lawyer are jointly responsible for compliance with Rule 1.8(c) regarding current or former clients.

If the per diem lawyer is employed by a firm with which she or his firm has a relationship, the firm must comply with Rule 1.9(a) concerning conflicts of interest. The per diem lawyer owes duties to the courts in which she or he appears. She or he must obey local customs of practice and observe the rules and procedures for each tribunal in which they appear.

As a general rule, it is improper to charge a flat fee to a participating lawyer. However, if a large law firm has a special arrangement with the service to pay its associates and per diem lawyers a much lower market billing rate than it charges its own employees, it may be permissible to charge a mark-up for its services. That mark-up, if it is fair and reasonable, would provide an opportunity for small law firms to compete on equal terms with the larger firms. However, the committee believes that it is not appropriate to require full disclosure of such arrangements to clients. Such a requirement could have unintended adverse consequences on small firms. Moreover, the committee does not support an amendment to Rule 1.5(g) to exclude from disclosure a per-diem or fixed fee arrangement that does not exceed what the hiring lawyer would pay an employee of the firm.