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West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 300. Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct
Client-Attorney Relationship [Rules 19-301.1 to 19-301.18]
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-301.2
(a) Subject to sections (c) and (d) of this Rule, an attorney shall abide by a client's decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and, when appropriate, shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. An attorney may take such action on behalf of the client as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation. An attorney shall abide by a client's decision whether to settle a matter. In a criminal case, the attorney shall abide by the client's decision, after consultation with the attorney, as to a plea to be entered, whether to waive jury trial and whether the client will testify.
(b) An attorney's representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities.
(c) An attorney may limit the scope of the representation in accordance with applicable Maryland Rules if (1) the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances, (2) the client gives informed consent, and (3) the scope and limitations of any representation, beyond an initial consultation or brief advice provided without a fee, are clearly set forth in a writing, including any duty on the part of the attorney under Rule 1-324 to forward notices to the client.
(d) An attorney shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the attorney knows is criminal or fraudulent, but an attorney may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.
Scope of Representation--[1] Both attorney and client have authority and responsibility in the objectives and means of representation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by legal representation, within the limits imposed by law and the attorney's professional obligations. Within those limits, a client also has a right to consult with the attorney about the means to be used in pursuing those objectives. At the same time, an attorney is not required to pursue objectives or employ means simply because a client may wish that the attorney do so. A clear distinction between objectives and means sometimes cannot be drawn, and in many cases the client-attorney relationship partakes of a joint undertaking. In questions of means, the attorney should assume responsibility for technical and legal tactical issues, but should defer to the client regarding such questions as the expense to be incurred and concern for third persons who might be adversely affected.
[2] On occasion, however, an attorney and a client may disagree about the means to be used to accomplish the client's objectives. Because of the varied nature of the matters about which an attorney and client might disagree and because the actions in question may implicate the interests of a tribunal or other persons, this Rule does not prescribe how such disagreements are to be resolved. Other law, however, may be applicable and should be consulted by the attorney. The attorney should also consult with the client and seek a mutually acceptable resolution of the disagreement. If such efforts are unavailing and the attorney has a fundamental disagreement with the client, the attorney may withdraw from the representation. See Rule 19-301.16 (b)(4) (1.16). Conversely, the client may resolve the disagreement by discharging the attorney. See Rule 19-301.16 (a)(3) (1.16).
[3] At the outset of a representation, the client may authorize the attorney to take specific action on the client's behalf without further consultation. Absent a material change in circumstances and subject to Rule 19-301.4 (1.4), an attorney may rely on such an advance authorization. The client may, however, revoke such authority at any time.
[4] In a case in which the client appears to be suffering diminished capacity, the attorney's duty to abide by the client's decisions is to be guided by reference to Rule 19-301.14 (1.14).
Independence from Client's Views or Activities--[5] Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval. By the same token, representing a client does not constitute approval of the client's views or activities.
Agreements Limiting Scope of Representation--[6] The scope of services to be provided by an attorney may be limited by agreement with the client or by the terms under which the attorney's services are made available to the client. When an attorney has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, for example, the representation may be limited to matters related to the insurance coverage. A limited representation may be appropriate because the client has limited objectives for the representation. In addition, the terms upon which representation is undertaken may exclude specific means that might otherwise be used to accomplish the client's objectives. Such limitations may exclude actions that the client thinks are too costly or that the attorney regards as repugnant or imprudent.
[7] Although this Rule affords the attorney and client substantial latitude to limit the representation, the limitation must be reasonable under the circumstances. If, for example, a client's objective is limited to securing general information about the law the client needs in order to handle a common and typically uncomplicated legal problem, the attorney and client may agree that the attorney's services will be limited to a brief telephone consultation. Such a limitation, however, would not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely. Although an agreement for a limited representation does not exempt an attorney from the duty to provide competent representation, the limitation is a factor to be considered when determining the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. See Rule 19-301.1 (1.1).
[8] An attorney and a client may agree that the scope of the representation is to be limited to clearly defined specific tasks or objectives, including: (1) without entering an appearance, filing papers, or otherwise participating on the client's behalf in any judicial or administrative proceeding, (i) giving legal advice to the client regarding the client's rights, responsibilities, or obligations with respect to particular matters, (ii) conducting factual investigations for the client, (iii) representing the client in settlement negotiations or in private alternative dispute resolution proceedings, (iv) evaluating and advising the client with regard to settlement options or proposed agreements, or (v) drafting documents, performing legal research, and providing advice that the client or another attorney appearing for the client may use in a judicial or administrative proceeding; or (2) in accordance with applicable Maryland Rules, representing the client in discrete judicial or administrative proceedings, such as a court-ordered alternative dispute resolution proceeding, a pendente lite proceeding, or proceedings on a temporary restraining order, a particular motion, or a specific issue in a multi-issue action or proceeding. Before entering into such an agreement, the attorney shall fully and fairly inform the client of the extent and limits of the attorney's obligations under the agreement, including any duty on the part of the attorney under Rule 1-324 to forward notices to the client.
[9] Representation of a client in a collaborative law process is a type of permissible limited representation. It requires a collaborative law participation agreement that complies with the requirements of Code, Courts Article, § 3-1902 and Rule 17-503 (b) and is signed by all parties after informed consent.
[10] All agreements concerning an attorney's representation of a client must accord with the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct and other law. See, e.g., Rule 19-301.1 (1.1), 19-301.8 (1.8) and 19-305.6 (5.6).
Criminal, Fraudulent and Prohibited Transactions--[11] Section (d) of this Rule prohibits an attorney from knowingly counseling or assisting a client to commit a crime or fraud. This prohibition, however, does not preclude the attorney from giving an honest opinion about the actual consequences that appear likely to result from a client's conduct. The fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent does not, of itself, make an attorney a party to the course of action. There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity.
[12] Maryland enacted a medical marijuana law in 2013. See Code, Health General Article, § 13-3301 et seq. As a matter of State law, some medical marijuana activities are permissible, and are subject to regulation. Notwithstanding Maryland law, the Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801--904, continues to criminalize the production, use, and distribution of marijuana, even in the context of medical use. As of 2014, the federal government has taken the position, however, that it generally does not wish to interfere with retail sales of medical marijuana permitted under State law.
In this narrow context, an attorney may counsel a client about compliance with the State's medical marijuana law without violating Rule 19-301.2 (d) and provide legal services in connection with business activities permitted by the State statute, provided that the attorney also advises the client about the legal consequences, under other applicable law, of the client's proposed course of conduct.
[13] When the client's course of action has already begun and is continuing, the attorney's responsibility is especially delicate. The attorney is required to avoid assisting the client, for example, by drafting or delivering documents that the attorney knows are fraudulent or by suggesting how the wrongdoing might be concealed. An attorney may not continue assisting a client in conduct that the attorney originally supposed was legally proper but then discovers is criminal or fraudulent. The attorney must, therefore, withdraw from the representation of the client in the matter. See Rule 19-301.16 (a) (1.16). In some cases withdrawal alone might be insufficient. It may be necessary for the attorney to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm any opinion, document, affirmation or the like. See Rules 19-301.6 (1.6), 19-304.1 (4.1).
[14] Where the client is a fiduciary, the attorney may be charged with special obligations in dealings with a beneficiary.
[15] Section (d) of this Rule applies whether or not the defrauded party is a party to the transaction. Hence, an attorney must not participate in a transaction to effectuate criminal or fraudulent avoidance of tax liability. Section (d) does not preclude undertaking a criminal defense incident to a general retainer for legal services to a lawful enterprise. The last clause of section (d) of this Rule recognizes that determining the validity or interpretation of a statute or regulation may require a course of action involving disobedience of the statute or regulation or of the interpretation placed upon it by governmental authorities.
[16] If an attorney comes to know or reasonably should know that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct or other law or if the attorney intends to act contrary to the client's instructions, the attorney must consult with the client regarding the limitations on the attorney's conduct. See Rule 19-301.4 (a)(4) (1.4).
Model Rules Comparison--Rule 19-301.2 (1.2) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct except for wording changes in Rule 19-301.2 (a) (1.2), the addition of Comments [8], [9], and [12], and the retention of existing Maryland language in Comment [1].


[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016. Amended Dec. 13, 2016, eff. Apr. 1, 2017.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-301.2, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-301.2
Current with amendments received through May 1, 2024. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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