Alabama State Bar
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OGC Formal Opinions
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  2013-01
Prosecuting a BP Claim: Ethical Considerations
2012-01 Advertising on Groupon and Similar Deal of the Day Websites
2011-02 Criminal Defendant's Waiver of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims
2011-01 Lawyer's Indemnification of Defendants for Unpaid Liens
2010-03 Representation of an Estate and Client Identity
2010-02 Retention, Storage, Ownership, Production and Destruction of Client Files
2010-01 The Unbundling of Legal Services and "Ghostwriting"
2009-01 Ethical Obligations of a Lawyer When His Client Has Committed or Intends to Commit Perjury
2008-03 Lawyers' Trust Account Obligations With Regard to Retainers and Set Fees
2008-02 Imputed disqualification - part-time judges and part-time assistant district attorneys
2008-01 Advertising ability to communicate in a foreign language
2007-05 Ethical issues involved in lawyers use of pre-litigation pretexting
2007-04 Corporation and Individual Directors
2007-03 Ethical propriety of using temporary lawyers
2007-02 Ethical Propriety of Mining Metadata
2007-01 Liability insurers using staff counsel to represent its insureds
2006-01   Direct solicitation of former and present clients
2005-02   Billing Client for Attorney's Fees, Costs and Other Expenses
2005-01   City attorney who is also defense attorney in city court has waivable conflict of interest
2003-03   Communication with represented government officials permitted
2003-02   Attorney must honor commitment to pay client's creditors even if client objects
2003-01   Various Advertising Issues Addressed
2002-04   Attorney fee contract may require binding arbitration only if client is independently represented in making the agreement
2002-03   Contact permitted with employees of opposing party who are non-managerial, who are not responsible for act for which opposing party could be liable and who have no authority to make decisions about the litigation
2002-02   Affiliation agreements with foreign lawyers are ethically permissible
2002-01   Imputed Disqualification of Law Firms When Nonlawyer Employees Change Firms
2001-01   Attorney may barter legal services in exchange for services from other professionals and may refer clients to other professionals subject to certain conditions
2000-03   Former city attorney may not represent party adverse to city while also representing city officials in unrelated matters without consent of city
2000-02   Attorney appointed guardian ad litem is ethically prohibited from communicating ex parte with trial judge concerning any substantive issue before the court.
1999-04   Impermissible conflict exists where law firm sells pre-paid legal insurance policies and also provides insureds with legal services required under the policies.
1999-03   Law partners of substitute municipal judge may represent clients in municipal court provided said matters are completely unrelated to those wherein partner presided as substitute judge
1999-01   Attorney may not pay for advertising of another attorney in exchange for referrals
1998-02   Third party auditing of lawyer's billings - confidentiality problems and interference with representation.
1998-01   Contingency fee contract in collection of child support arrearage cases impermissible absent extraordinary circumstances.
1997-02   An attorney may pay an expert witness a reasonable and customary fee for preparing and providing expert testimony, but the expert's fee may not be contingent on the outcome of the proceeding.
1997-01   Participation in National Attorney Network
1996-09   Alabama lawyers may form limited liability partnership with other lawyers or professional corporations for practice of law
1996-07   Alabama Rules of Professional conduct apply to lawyer advertising on the Internet and private on-liner services
1996-06   Law firms not required to notify respective clients that one firm is representing the other if the attorneys involved determine such will not adversely affect their relationships with their clients
1996-05   Direct mail advertising
1996-03   Law firm may represent multiple plaintiffs against same defendant if different plaintiffs' interests are not adverse to or compete with one another
1996-02   DHR and Title IV-D service recipients--attorney represents agency and has no attorney-client relationship with service recipients (Modifies RO-87-57)
1996-01   A lawyer may not charge contingent fee in domestic relations matter--prohibition also applies to representation concerning antenuptial agreement which is inseparable from divorce proceedings
1995-10   Lawyer may prosecute criminal defendant being represented by lawyer's brother only if both the district attorney's office and the brother's client consent to such representation
1995-09   Lawyer's obligation to comply with confidentiality of information rule and client's adherence to Sunshine Law (open meetings act) discussed
1995-08   Local bar association referral service may utilize percentage fee program if income thereby generated is used to defray costs of program or to support other public service programs
1995-07   Lawyer may not represent criminal defendant where only eye-witness to crime is former client of lawyer about whom lawyer possesses impeaching confidential information gained during prior representaion
1995-06   Lawyer may seek appointment of guardian for client under a disability, or take other protective action necessary to advance best interest of client
1995-03   Lawyer may seek appointment of a guardian or take other protective action if lawyer reasonably believes that client cannot adequately act in client's own interest
1995-02   In-house counsel for finance/title company may not remit attorney fees to company as such constitutes division of fees with nonlawyer
1994-14   Former commissioner of state agency now representing plaintiffs in case adverse to said agency
1994-13   Lawyer who has formerly represented a client may not represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter where the present client's interests are materially adverse to the former client
1994-12   Lawyer's communicating on letterhead and business cards fact that he has been certified as an arbitrator by the American Arbitration Association does not violate Rules 7.1 and 7.7
1994-11   Lawyer representing managerial employees of opposing party in unrelated matter may communicate ex parte only as to those matters wherein he represents said employees and not as to the other pending matter
1994-10   District attorney (and assistants) not vicariously disqualified even though newly employed assistant has participated in criminal cases as defense counsel so long as new assistant is adequately "screened" from participation
1994-09   Lawyer may not disclose confidential information without consent of client--where client perpetrates fraud and such is ongoing lawyer should withdraw if client refuses to remedy fraud
1994-08   For Rule 1.7 purposes, lawyer retained by insurance company to defend action against insured represents the insured as well as the insurance company
1994-07   Reasonableness of lawyer's percentage fee in foreclosure case must take into consideration factors enumerated in Rule 1.5
1994-04   Lawyer may communicate ex parte with employees of adverse party if employees do not have managerial responsibility and are not in a position to bind employer in civil or criminal matter
1994-03   Lawyer representing collections agency in pursuing child support arrearage for custodial parents must guard against fee-splitting with nonlawyer and possible solicitation by agency of prospective clients
1994-02   Guidelines for billing by lawyers for professional fees, disbursements, and other expenses (Adoption of ABA Formal Opinion 93-379)
1994-01   In-house counsel for banking company conducting real estate closings--division of fees with nonlawyers and possible unauthorized practice of law problems
1993-23   Law firm may not establish a separate and distinct law firm and pay for advertising and other operating expenses in return for the referral of cases from said firm (Modified by RO-99-01)
1993-22   Rule 1.11 applied to state agency conducting grand jury investigation and pursuing civil action against same party
1993-21   Lawyer may not characterize a fee as non-refundable or use other language in a fee agreement that suggests that any fee paid before services are rendered is not subject to refund or adjustment
1993-20   Rule 5.4 prohibits fee-splitting with non-lawyer, but lawyer may pay a non-lawyer for services rendered to the lawyer
1993-19   Lawyers may utilize "LAWCARD" as method of payment by clients for past or future legal fees
1993-16   Alabama lawyers may utilize provisions of Alabama Limited Liability Company ("LLC") Act for organization of law firm
1993-15   Law firm endorsed by union may purchase ad in union directory and may provide business cards of law firm's lawyers for dissemination to union members
1993-14   Propriety of law firm's representation of children who are wards of the Department of Human Resources while also representing DHR discussed
1993-13   Assistant attorney general assigned to state agency owes duty of loyalty to attorney general and state agency which duty may create conflict where attorney general and agency head are adverse to one another
1993-12   Rule 8.4(e) prohibits an attorney who serves as a hearing officer for a state agency to likewise represent clients before that same state agency
1993-11   Use of the terms "Associates", "Law Firm", and "Law Offices" in law firm name
1993-10   Retention and destruction of client files
1993-09   Part-time assistant district attorney's representation of homicide victim's estate discussed under Rule 1.11
1993-08   Lawyer's brochure should not include amount of a damage award or lawyer's record in obtaining favorable verdicts
1993-06   Lawyer's obligation under Rule 3.3 to disclose adverse information in administrative proceeding discussed
1993-05   Rule 4.2 does not prohibit plaintiff's counsel from contacting former employees of a corporate defendant
1993-04   Judge in uncontested divorce may not thereafter represent one of the parties in related proceedings
1993-03   Lawyer changing firms
1992-23   Law firm's paying of advertising budget of solo practitioner who refers cases to law firm discussed (Modified by RO-99-01)
1992-22   Partner of city coucilman serving as city prosecutor
1992-21   Law firm cannot represent client in matter adverse to present client absent consultation/consent of present client
1992-20   Lawyer may represent subsidiary of corporation while simultaneously suing parent company if subsidiary and parent are separate corporate entities, confidential information will not be misused, and representation of subsidiary is not limited by the litigation involving the parent
1992-18   Attorney who served as DA when defendant investigated/indicted should not represent that defendant on said charges
1992-17   (1) Non-refundable retainers discussed (2) In abiding by client's decision regarding settlement, lawyer may participate in confidential settlement even though there may be possibility of adverse consequences on third parties or the public
1992-15   Dormant collection matter
1992-14   Single disclaimer for multiple ads
1992-13   Fee-splitting with non-lawyer
1992-12   Lawyer may contact former employee of opposing party ex parte unless contact is intended to deal with privileged matter
1992-09   Duty to report judge's conduct
1992-06   National Board of Trial Advocacy
1992-05   Absent valid attorney's lien, the file of the client belongs to the client
1992-04   Withdrawal allowed when client refuses to cooperate with or follow advice of attorney
1992-03   Representing minor on criminal charge and minor's parents in dependency hearing
1991-44   District Attorney's Office may prosecute criminal defendant where defendant is victim and prosecuting witness in another case
1991-43   Attorney Hotline
1991-42   Suit against former client
1991-41   Representing DHR and a client regarding a founded complaint of child abuse
1991-40   No conflict created through kinship by blood or marriage between attorneys
1991-39   District attorney representing himself, pro se, in a civil matter
1991-19   Rule 3.7-- Lawyer as a witness
1991-08   Law firm may not "choose" between conflicting present clients and withdraw from representation so as to relegate one present client to "former client" status in order to take advantage of less stringent conflict rules
1991-06   Required notice to client when attorney leaves law firm
1991-05   Lawyer may enter into contingent fee agreement to collect child support arrearage where client is unable to pay reasonable attorney's fee on a non-contingent basis (Modified by RO-98-01)
1990-99   Dual representation of insurance company and insured when coverage is questioned
1990-92   Disclosure of file contents pursuant to subpoena by client
1990-86   Contingent fee - attorney lien - quantum meruit
1990-85   Lawyer's "selling" of his collections practice files to collections agency in which he has financial interest discussed
1990-79   Lawyer may not communicate with employee of opposing party if employee has managerial responsibility on behalf of the opposing party and can bind the opposing party
1990-48   Lawyer properly interplead disputed trust funds into court to allow adjudication of clients' and third-party creditors' rights to said funds
1990-12   Payment of lawyer's fees by third party must not impair independent professional judgment of lawyer
1990-11   Lawyer does not have ethical obligation to advise client to file bar grievance against former lawyer who may be guilty of legal malpractice. Lawyer has obligation to report ethical misconduct to tribunal of disciplinary authority.
1990-100   Lawyer or law firm operating under trade name must include trade name in all other permissible communications made pursuant to Rule 7, A.R.P.C.
1990-09   Review of lawyer brochure--applicable rules (Code of Professional Responsibility) governing advertising quoted
1990-08   Unclaimed client trust funds--lawyer's obligation to ascertain true owner, escheatment of unclaimed funds which appear to be lawyer's fees to lawyer
1990-06   Representation of corporation by lawyer who is also a director, office and shareholder of the corporation
1990-05   Imputed disqualification rule as applied to district attorneys and part-time district attorneys handling child support arrearage (Title IV/DHR) cases involving former clients
1990-04   Law students providing legal research services to lawyers and law firms
1990-03   Lawyer should not undertake representation of client in matter adverse to former client which matter is substantially related to prior representation and where lawyer gained confidential information which may be used to detriment of former client.
1990-02   Suspended or disbarred lawyer may receive, subsequent to the date of his suspension or disbarment, legal fees to which he was entitled for work performed prior to his suspension or disbarment.
1990-01   Business cards of paralegal must contain identification of the non-lawyer employee as "non-lawyer assistant."
1989-99   Representing buyer and seller in real estate transaction
1989-31 Use of investigator to obtain evidence against adverse party
1988-92   Unclaimed client trust funds - escheat to state
1988-52   Lawyer may utilize names of clients in "tombstone announcements" if clients consent to such use.
1988-34   Lawyer may contact employee of opposing party without notice or permission of opposing counsel if employee (1) can't bind adverse party by his or her testimony; (2) is not executive officers/managers of adverse party; or, (3) is not actually tortfeasor for whose conduct the adverse party could be held liable.
1987-158   Referrals from credit bureau partially owned by attorney.
1986-52   Limitations on in-house counsel of corporation who is not admitted to practice law in Alabama
1986-02   Subject to attorney's lien, attorney must provide copies of client's complete file to client upon request
1984-190   Lawyer who serves as municipal judge may represent city police officer in possible criminal and civil proceedings involving officer's alleged misconduct if lawyer has no judicial role in any related facet of case(s).
1983-77   Payment to investigator for locating witnesses and documents relevant to lawsuit
1983-183   Absent fraud or deceit it is not unethical, per se, for an attorney who is a party to a conversation with any person to make a recording of the conversation without prior knowledge and consent of all the parties thereto.
1982-648   Lawyer's representation of clients in civil and criminal matters affected by lawyer's serving as city prosecutor
1982-591   Lawyer's representation of co-plaintiffs in civil litigation where there are sufficient assets to settle all potential claims
1981-533   In-house counsel for insurance carrier may represent insureds, subject to certain conditions
1987-161   Dual professions - attorney and real estate broker.