This is the first in a series of articles on the subject of legal ethics for the lawyer/lobbyist

It is becoming more and more common for lawyers to advocate for their clients not only in the courtroom, but before state and federal legislative bodies. Lawyers act as advocates for their clients by reviewing, drafting and amending legislation. Lawyers may seek to establish or do away with laws that affect their client's industry and daily business operations. With their training in the operation of our system of laws, certain lawyers may be well-suited for this purpose. Thus, as more and more lawyers engage in this form of advocacy, they must remain mindful of the standards of ethics imposed upon them as members of the legal profession, such as proper disclosure of their role as lobbyist,1 maintaining client-lawyer privilege and confidentiality,2 and avoiding conflicts of interest.3

Rule 5.7 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct defines "law-related services" as "services that might reasonably be performed in conjunction with the provision of legal services and that are not prohibited as unauthorized practice of law when provided by a non-lawyer."4 It is important to note that Rule 5.7 lists lobbying, among other activities, as an example of a law-related service.5

Rule 5.7 mandates that legal ethics rules will govern law-related services such as lobbying unless: (1) the services are not distinct from the lawyer’s provision of legal services to clients and (2) the lawyer takes reasonable measures to inform the client that:

  • The services are not legal services; and
  • The protections of client-lawyer relationship will not apply to the engagement

Thus, if a lawyer does not adequately establish the non-legal relationship with the client, it is presumed that the lawyer/lobbyist is acting as both lawyer and lobbyist for the client and is, therefore, fully subject to compliance with legal ethics rules.6