A Non-Lawyer Can’t be “Chief” in a Texas Law Firm | BCGSearch.com

Need Help? Call 800-298-6440

BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search

The Standard in Attorney Search and Placement™

BCG Attorney Search is widely known to be the most selective recruiting firm in terms of who it represents in the United States. In addition, BCG Attorney Search is the most demanding of its recruiters and is widely considered to be the most rigorous recruiting firm in terms of screening our recruitment staff as you like.

BCG Attorney Search Law Firm News

Law Firm News

A Non-Lawyer Can’t be “Chief” in a Texas Law Firm

06/27/14

A Non-Lawyer Can't be "Chief" in a Texas Law Firm


In a recent ethics opinion (Opinion 642) the Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas has ruled that under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, a Texas law firm may not use "officer" or "principal" in the job titles for non-lawyer employees of the firm.

The questions that were placed before the Ethics Committee include:

  • May a Texas law firm include the terms "officer" or "principal" in the job titles of the firm's non-lawyer employees?
  • May a Texas law firm pay or agree to pay specified bonuses to non-lawyer employees contingent upon the firm's achieving a specified amount of revenue or profit?

The opinion also stated that under the Texas Rules, a Texas law firm is prohibited from "paying or agreeing to pay specified bonuses to non-lawyer employees contingent upon the firm's achieving a specified level of revenue or profit."

However, the opinion clarified, a Texas law firm may pay bonuses to non-lawyer employees after considering the firm's revenue, expenses, and profits. Which means performance-based bonuses for non-lawyer employees cannot be based upon specified revenue generation targets.

The Ethics Committee observed, "If the non-lawyer employees will not, in fact, control operations of the law firm nor own an interest in the firm, then designating these employees as "officers" or " prinicipals" would be misleading and thus violate Rule 7.02(a). The said rule states, "A lawyer shall not make or sponsor a false or misleading communication about the qualifications or the services of any lawyer or firm."

The Ethics Committee also said designation non-lawyers as "officers" or "principals" of Texas law firms could lead to violations of Rule 8.04(a)(3), which prohibits a lawyer from engaging in "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud deceit or misrepresentation."

Since Rule 5.04 prohibits a lawyer in Texas from sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer and from practicing law with an organization if "a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof," and also from entering into situations where "a nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer," the question of a nonlawyer being designated Chief Executive Officer and etc., of a Texas law firm, does not arise.

Click here to find legal jobs in Texas law firms only at LawCrossing.com.

Want to read more law firm news?
For past editions of our weekly law firm news, click here.


Contact Our Recruiters Now!

Search Jobs

Locations:

Minimum Years of Experience:

Primary Area of Practice:

Firm Type:

Keyword:

 Partner Level Job(s):

Search Now