Ethics Committee Formal Opinion #1990-91/2
Donation of Legal Services for Charitable Fund Raising
May 9, 1991
Any attorney seeking to donate professional services in lieu of money to a charitable organization (which services are to be then purchased at an auction by a donor to that organization), must insure that (1) such services are to be provided in an area which the attorney is competent; (2) any communications from the charitable organization regarding the donated services must be clear and not misleading; and (3) arrangements must be made to avoid any conflicts that might arise with the unknown donor-client. (Rule 1.1(b)(3); Rule 7.1; Rule 8.4; Rule 1.7 – 1.10).
An attorney desiring to donate professional services in lieu of monetary contributions, in the form of either a specified amount of time or a simple will, to a charitable organization (which will then be purchased at an auction by an unknown donor-client) does not involve the providing of pro bono services. (Rule 6.1)
Due to the ethical dangers involved, attorneys are advised to avoid donating services to an unknown client, as a means of donating to a charitable organization. (Rule 1.1(b)(3); Rule 1.7 – 1.10; Rule 7.1; Rule 8.4).
May an attorney, consistent with the Rule of Professional Conduct, make a charitable donation in the form of free consultation, a simple will, etc.?