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Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 9.1: Definitions

[Disclaimer]

The following definitions are applicable to the Rules of Professional Conduct:

(a) "Bar association" includes an association of specialists in particular services, fields, and areas of law.

(b) "Belief" or "believes" denotes that the person involved actually supposed the fact in question to be true. A person's belief may be inferred from circumstances.

(c) "Consult" or "consultation" denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.

(d) "Firm" or "law firm" denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a private firm, lawyers employed in the legal department of a corporation or other organization, and lawyers employed in a legal services organization. The term includes a partnership, including a limited liability partnership, a corporation, a limited liability company, or an association treated as a corporation, authorized by law to practice law for profit.

(e) "Fraud" or "fraudulent" denotes conduct having a purpose to deceive and not merely negligent misrepresentation or failure to apprise another of relevant information.

(f) "Knowingly," "known," or "knows" denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A person's knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.

(g) "Partner" denotes a member of a partnership and a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation.

(h) "Person" includes a corporation, an association, a trust, a partnership, and any other organization or legal entity.

(i) "Qualified legal assistance organization" means a legal aid, public defender, or military assistance office; or a bona fide organization that recommends, furnishes or pays for legal services to its members or beneficiaries, provided the office, service, or organization receives no profit from the rendition of legal services, is not designed to procure financial benefit or legal work for a lawyer as a private practitioner, does not infringe the individual member's freedom as a client to challenge the approved counsel or to select outside counsel at the client's expense, and is not in violation of any applicable law.

(j) "Reasonable" or "reasonably" when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer.

(k) "Reasonable belief" or "reasonably believes" when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that the lawyer believes the matter in question and that the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.

(l) "Reasonably should know" when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would ascertain the matter in question.

(m) "State" includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and federal territories or possessions.

(n) "Substantial" when used in reference to degree or extent denotes a material matter of clear and weighty importance.

(o) "Tribunal" includes a court or other adjudicatory body.

Adopted June 9, 1997, effective January 1, 1998. Amended December 8, 1997, effective January 1, 1998; amended August 31, 1999, effective October 1, 1999.

Comment:

[1] See Comments 1-3 to Rule 1.10 for further information on the definition of "firm."

[2] In addition to the terms defined in this rule, there are two other important concepts whose meaning is discussed at some length at other places in these rules. The terms "assist" and "assisting" appear in Rules 1.2(d), 3.3(a)(2) and 4.1(b). Comment 3 to Rule 4.1 sets forth the meaning of these terms with respect to conduct proscribed in Rules 1.2(d) and 4.1(b), and Comment 2A to Rule 3.3 sets forth the special meaning of those terms in the context of a lawyer's appearance before a tribunal. The term "confidential information" is also used in the rules to describe the information that lawyers shall not reveal unless required or permitted under these rules. As Comment 5, 5A and 5B to Rule 1.6 indicate, confidential information includes "virtually" all information relating to the representation whatever its scope. It therefore includes information described as confidences and secrets under the prior Massachusetts Disciplinary Rules without the limitation in the prior rules that the information be "embarrassing" or "detrimental" to the client. As pointed out in Comment 5A, however, a lawyer may learn some information in the course of representation that is so widely known that it ought not be considered confidential.

[3] The final category of qualified legal assistance organization requires that the organization "receives no profit from the rendition of legal services." That condition refers to the entire legal services operation of the organization; it does not prohibit the receipt of a court awarded fee that would result in a "profit" from that particular lawsuit.

Corresponding ABA Model Rule. The definitions are largely taken from the "Terminology" of the ABA Model Rules which is not a numbered rule.