N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-605

As amended through September 28, 2021
Rule 16-605 - Nonprofit and court-annexed limited legal services programs
A. A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited legal services to a client without expectation by either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter:
(1) is subject to Rule 16-107 NMRA and Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest; and
(2) is subject to Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer associated with the lawyer in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the matter.
B. Except as provided in Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A, Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.

N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-605

Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-29, effective November 3, 2008.

Committee commentary. -

[1] Legal services organizations, courts and various nonprofit organizations have established programs through which lawyers provide short-term limited legal services - such as advice or the completion of legal forms - that will assist persons to address their legal problems without further representation by a lawyer. In these programs, such as legal-advice hotlines, advice-only clinics or pro se counseling programs, a client-lawyer relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the lawyer's representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation. Such programs are normally operated under circumstances in which it is not feasible for a lawyer to systematically screen for conflicts of interest as is generally required before undertaking a representation. See, e.g., Rules 16-107, 16-109 and 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[2] A lawyer who provides short-term limited legal services pursuant to this Rule must secure the client's informed consent to the limited scope of the representation. See Paragraph C of Rule 16-102 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. If a short-term limited representation would not be reasonable under the circumstances, the lawyer may offer advice to the client but must also advise the client of the need for further assistance of counsel. Except as provided in this Rule, the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 16-106 NMRA and Paragraph C of Rule 16-109 NMRA, are applicable to the limited representation.

[3] Because a lawyer who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by this Rule ordinarily is not able to check systematically for conflicts of interest, Paragraph A requires compliance with Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that the representation presents a conflict of interest for the lawyer, and with Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the matter.

[4] Because the limited nature of the services significantly reduces the risk of conflicts of interest with other matters being handled by the lawyer's firm, Paragraph B provides that Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule except as provided by Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A. Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A requires the participating lawyer to comply with Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct when the lawyer knows that the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. By virtue of Paragraph B, however, a lawyer's participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the lawyer's firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program's auspices. Nor will the personal disqualification of a lawyer participating in the program be imputed to other lawyers participating in the program.

[5] If, after commencing a short-term limited representation in accordance with this Rule, a lawyer undertakes to represent the client in the matter on an ongoing basis, Rule 16-107 NMRA, Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA, and Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct become applicable.

[Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-029, effective November 3, 2008.]

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