Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

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Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:00 pm

This may be premature because I'm studying for the bar but...

I know there isn't an ethical problem doing minor legal work for relations. I want to help my brother out with some minor legal work (negotiating a pay-for-removal with a debt collector bc my brother is spineless) after I get sworn in. I'll be starting with a biglaw firm in a couple of months. Do they usually prevent you from doing this type of thing?

HonestAdvice

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:06 pm

Their concern is going to be with conflicts. If it was something like estate planning then as long as you made it clear this is you independently, and not you on behalf of xxx you could just do it. Being that a company is behind the debt, you should probably check up front so your conflict doesn't wind up imputed on the whole firm.

bern victim

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby bern victim » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:14 pm

your firm will have a policy on this

i think free legal work for family members is usually allowed but prob has to be cleared through the firm first

HonestAdvice

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:35 pm

Negotiating a pay for removal also isn't necessarily legal work.

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:03 pm

HonestAdvice wrote:Negotiating a pay for removal also isn't necessarily legal work.


True. I'm just cautious because I'd be negotiating on behalf of someone as a licensed attorney.

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:07 am

Firms have policies about this -- partially concerns over conflicts but also malpractice and potentially just reflecting poorly on the firm if you do a bad job. You may need to engage him as a firm client and take it pro bono, in which case a partner may need to be involved with ultimate responsibility for the matter. But I dunno how your firm would deal with it. Honestly, probably not a great idea to ask about this early on, but if you do, I'd frame it discreetly as a hypothetical, not "hey can I help my brother for free with his debt."

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:39 pm

If its going to entail no more than a couple phone calls, if it were me, I'd just do it and move on without saying anything. But I have a higher risk tolerance etc. Honestly the chance of this morphing into a conflict with your big law firm I'd say approaches zero.

HonestAdvice

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Re: Do firms usually bar you from doing legal work for others (family?)

Postby HonestAdvice » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:40 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Firms have policies about this -- partially concerns over conflicts but also malpractice and potentially just reflecting poorly on the firm if you do a bad job. You may need to engage him as a firm client and take it pro bono, in which case a partner may need to be involved with ultimate responsibility for the matter. But I dunno how your firm would deal with it. Honestly, probably not a great idea to ask about this early on, but if you do, I'd frame it discreetly as a hypothetical, not "hey can I help my brother for free with his debt."

I think a lot of this boils down to common sense in any given situation. Your firm will care if:

(1) if you have apparent authority to act on behalf of your firm - you call sounding like a lawyer and the first google result under your name is your firm bio page there's a chance the firm may be vicariously liable, and that their malpractice insurance won't cover this and (2) you not only create a conflict for the firm, but by not being screened out the firm can't get paid for services it has already provided.

Just use your best judgment and plan accordingly. If you think it's the kind of thing you'll need to ask permission to do then err on the side of not doing it.



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