The NC State Bar has proposed adding a new comment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 regarding awareness of implicit bias and cultural differences.
Here is the language of the proposed comment:
“ A lawyer should be aware of implicit bias and cultural differences relative to a client or anyone involved in a client’s matter that might affect the lawyer’s representation of the client. Such awareness enhances a lawyer’s competency and works to ensure understanding of the client’s needs, effective communication with the client and others, and adequate representation of the client.”
“[A] lawyer should be aware of implicit bias and cultural differences relative to a client that might impact the lawyer’s representation of the client, and that such awareness enhances a lawyer’s representation of his/her clients,” according to the State Bar website.
Click here to review proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Have you checked out Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services? Founded by Camille Stell, who also serves as president, LMCS is a subsidiary of Lawyers Mutual. Its mission is to help firms build a modern law practice. It does that by offering expert advice and assistance into law firm trends and best practices. Camille and LMCS helps lawyers and firms create strategic plans and succession plans. A popular speaker and writer, Camille loves to guide lawyers through succession planning and into Life after Law. Contact her today.
NC Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 Competence
A lawyer shall not handle a legal matter that the lawyer knows or should know he or she is not competent to handle without associating with a lawyer who is competent to handle the matter. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Comment  In determining whether a lawyer employs the requisite knowledge and skill in a particular matter, relevant factors include the relative complexity and specialized nature of the matter, the lawyer’s general experience, the lawyer's training and experience in the field in question, the preparation and study the lawyer is able to give the matter, and whether it is feasible to refer the matter to, or associate or consult with, a lawyer of established competence in the field in question. In many instances, the required proficiency is that of a general practitioner. Expertise in a particular field of law may be required in some circumstances.
Comment  A lawyer need not necessarily have special training or prior experience to handle legal problems of a type with which the lawyer is unfamiliar. A newly admitted lawyer can be as competent as a practitioner with long experience. Some important legal skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence, and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems. Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge. A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a wholly novel field through necessary study. Competent representation can also be provided through the association of a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.
Comment  In an emergency, a lawyer may give advice or assistance in a matter in which the lawyer does not have the skill ordinarily required where referral to, or consultation or association with, another lawyer would be impractical. Even in an emergency, however, assistance should be limited to that which is reasonably necessary under the circumstances, for ill-considered action under emergency conditions can jeopardize the client's interest.
Comment  A lawyer may accept representation where the requisite level of competence can be achieved by reasonable preparation. This applies as well to a lawyer who is appointed as counsel for an unrepresented person.
Comment  Competent handling of a particular matter includes inquiry into, and analysis of, the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners. It also includes adequate preparation. The required attention and preparation are determined, in part, by what is at stake; major litigation and complex transactions ordinarily require more extensive treatment than matters of lesser complexity or consequence. An agreement between the lawyer and the client regarding the scope of the representation may limit the matters for which the lawyer is responsible. See Rule 1.2(c).
Comment  To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
Source: NC State Bar
Lawyers Mutual is on your side as you adjust to practicing law post-COVID. Our email newsletter “Practice Reimagined” offers timely tips, pointers and valuable links on wellness, work-life balance and quality of life – delivered straight to your in-box. Lawyers helping lawyers. It’s what we’ve been doing more than 40 years.