Informal Opinion Number: 2023-02

Adoption Date: April 26, 2023

Rules: 4-8.3
Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession
Reporting Professional Misconduct
Subject: Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession; Reporting Misconduct of Another Lawyer
Summary: no duty to report misconduct of another lawyer for a lawyer representing that other lawyer whose conduct is in question

Question: Lawyer A represents Lawyer B in a contract dispute in which Lawyer B represented an LLC and is alleged to have filed actions on behalf of non-members of the LLC without their knowledge or consent. Lawyer B’s conduct is at issue in the underlying lawsuits. Lawyer A asks if there is a requirement to report Lawyer B’s alleged misconduct to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel pursuant to Rule 4-8.3.

Answer: Missouri Rule of Professional Conduct 4-8.3, Reporting Professional Misconduct, provides guidance in Comment [4] that “[t]he duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the Rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship.” Based on Comment [4] to Rule 4-8.3, Lawyer A does not have an obligation to report Lawyer B because Lawyer A has an attorney-client relationship with Lawyer B in which Lawyer B’s conduct is in question.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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