Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Contract Lawyering in Georgia:
Because a client reasonably assumes that only attorneys within a firm are doing work on that client’s case, a client should be informed that the firm is using a contract attorney on the client’s matter and give consent. See Ga. Formal Advisory Op. No. 05-9; see also ABA Model Rule 1.1, cmt. 6; ABA Formal Op. 08-451.
A retaining firm should not misstate a contract attorney’s position with the firm. Indeed, a “lawyer may not make affirmative misrepresentations to the client regarding the status of lawyers and nonlawyers who are not in the lawyer’s employ….” ABA Formal Op. 08-451; see also Rule 7.1, 8.4(a)(4)(lawyer must not “engage in professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation”).
While Georgia has not expressly incorporated them into its Rules of Professional Conduct, comments to ABA Model Rule 1.1 suggest that a firm retaining a contract attorney to work on a client’s matter must reasonably believe that the contract lawyer’s services will contribute to the competent and ethical representation of the client. ABA Model Rule 1.1, cmt. 6.
The reasonableness of that decision “will depend upon the circumstances, including the education, experience and reputation of the nonfirm lawyers; the nature of the services assigned to the nonfirm lawyers; and the legal protections, professional conduct rules, and ethical environments of the jurisdictions in which the services will be performed, particularly relating to confidential information.” Id.