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"Attorney-Lobbyists: Ethics Rules Apply"

Nexsen Pruet's David Ferrell quoted by Wake County Bar

www.wakecountybar.org

December 8, 2017

Nexsen Pruet's David P. Ferrell recently offered insight to the Wake County Bar on whether or not ethics rules apply to attorney-lobbyists when they are advocating for their clients before the legislature and government agencies. 

An excerpt:

Many of us handle matters for clients that may not seem to meet the definition of practicing law - particularly when it comes to state government lobbying. With lobbying, we're not filing a complaint; not in a courtroom, not drafting a contract and not representing parties at mediation. There are certainly non-lawyers that advocate for clients before the legislature and government agencies. However, a large number of lobbyists are attorneys, and a good bit of what you do as a lobbyist seems to cross over into the practice of law - or at least could. And we are certainly dealing with clients, possibly opposing parties on the issue, and ultimately advocating a position. 

With this in mind, the question arises as to whether the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) apply to attorneys while conducting lobbying activities. The short answer is "yes." Although some rules directly deal with conduct of the attorney outside the practice of lobbying, such as conduct toward the tribunal, advocacy in court, etc., most of the rules of the RPC have general applicability to an attorney's practice of lobbying. By way of example, Rule 1 - scope of representation, confidentiality, conflicts; Rule 4 - truthfulness in statements to others, communications with persons represented by counsel; Rule 8.4 misconduct (just to name a few). And certainly our personal standards of right and wrong apply as they would in the general practice of law. An attorney-lobbyist should read these rules periodically. 

To read the entire post, visit the Wake County Bar's website.

More about David P. Ferrell:

David P. Ferrell concentrates his law practice in civil matters, including civil litigation, professional liability defense, energy and public utilities, legislative representation and lobbying, eminent domain and real estate litigation, administrative and regulatory matters, government contracts, and construction litigation.

David is a North Carolina registered lobbyist and has experience in state, local and executive branch lobbying, grass roots campaigns, and regulatory compliance. His government relations experience includes a diverse group of clients and a wide range of issues, which has allowed him to appear in and monitor legislation in most of the standing legislative committees and interim study committees.

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