The Inquirer has asked this Committee for an Opinion whether it violates any ethical rule for a lawyer who is a partner in one law firm also to be either a partner in or of counsel
to another law firm. It is the opinion of the Committee that nothing in the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits such an arrangement.
The proposed arrangement may, however, likely complicate fulfillment by the lawyer of duties under a number of provisions of the Rules. He or she will be required to assure compliance--as to both firms--with the conflict of interest provisions of Rules 1.7, 1.9, and 1.10, as well as the requirements of Rule 7.5 relating to firm names and letterheads. The lawyer should also be aware of the application to the proposed arrangement of the provisions of Rule 7.1 prohibiting misleading communications about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. Moreover, the lawyer should consider whether adequate disclosure of the two-firm relationship is made to clients to comply with the consent requirement of Rule 1.6(a) for disclosure of confidential information. Finally, Rules 5.1 and 5.3 regarding the duty of a partner to supervise others in both firms should not be overlooked.
This opinion does not address other legal issues, such as liabilities, which may arise in the circumstances of the proposed arrangement.