Alabama Rule 5.2 Responsibilities of a Subordinate Lawyer
(a) A lawyer is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person.
(b) A subordinate lawyer does not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct if that lawyer acts in accordance with a supervisory lawyer's reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.
Although a lawyer is not relieved of responsibility for a violation by the fact that the lawyer acted at the direction of a supervisor, that fact may be relevant in determining whether a lawyer had the knowledge required to render conduct a violation of the Rules. For example, if a subordinate filed a frivolous pleading at the direction of a supervisor, the subordinate would not be guilty of a professional violation unless the subordinate knew of the document's frivolous character.
When lawyers in
a supervisor-subordinate relationship encounter a matter involving professional
judgment as to ethical duty, the supervisor may assume responsibility for making
the judgment. Otherwise a consistent course of action or position could not be
taken. If the question can reasonably be answered only one way, the duty of both
lawyers is clear and they are equally responsible for fulfilling it. However, if
the question is reasonably arguable, someone has to decide upon the course of
action. That authority ordinarily reposes in the supervisor, and a subordinate
may be guided accordingly. For example, if a question arises whether the
interests of two clients conflict under Rule 1.7, the supervisor's reasonable
resolution of the question should protect the subordinate professionally if the
resolution is subsequently challenged.
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