My Request to Rescind MSBA Ethics Opinion 1992-19 Prohibiting MarkUp on Payments for Freelance Lawyers

UPDATE  October 12, 2019 – It’s taken me a while to post this, but MSBA finally responded to my request for an ethics ruling several months back. Instead of admitting that the rules as they existed were understood to prohibit markups on fees, the Committee insisted that markups have been permissible all along. In any event, the ruling provides needed clarification for Maryland lawyers who seek to use contract attorneys and mark up the fees. Here’s the ruling – Ethics 19-02 – Final. [end update]

As regular readers know, I complain about stupid ethics rules. Almost all. the. time. Years ago, I actually took steps to influence the rules. I wrote letters and gave webinars to explain ethics initiatives. But no one listened and I ran out of steam so I turned my attention back to my law practice which was paying the bills.

But now that there at least appears to be a groundswell of support for changing ethics rules (at least on Twitter), I decided to give it another go. This time, I plan to focus on changing ethics rules in the jurisdictions where I practice. Here’s my first effort: a request to the MSBA Ethics Committee to rescind its quarter of a century old ethics opinion that prohibits attorneys from marking up freelance lawyer costs. My arguments are explained in this letter which I submitted this evening. Would appreciate your comments – whether pro or con.

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