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Ethics Advisory Opinion 06-14

April 13, 2006

South Carolina Bar Ethics Advisory Opinion 06-14

SC Rules of Professional Conduct: 3.5(e)

Date: November 17, 2006

Facts
A local group chaired by a non-lawyer has been organized for the sole purpose of establishing a memorial for a deceased judge. This group requests funds for this purpose from members of the local bar. The group is not affiliated with a law school or any bar association.

Question
Can a lawyer contribute to this group for this memorial under these circumstances?

Summary
Under Rule 3.5(e) a lawyer may not contribute to a fund for a deceased judge because the rule prohibits contributions to a “memorial” for a judge except by the authorized procedures of the rule.

Opinion
Under Rule 3.5(e) a lawyer may not contribute to a fund for a deceased judge because the rule prohibits contributions to a “memorial” for a judge except by the authorized procedures of the rule. Rule 3.5(e) states in relevant part:

A lawyer shall not:
(e) participate in any judicial portrait fund or memorial except upon the following conditions:
    (1) the soliciting entity shall be a law school or an established state, county or local bar organization or association which was not formed for the primary purpose of soliciting judicial portrait funds or memorials;

Application of the rule to contributions for memorials seems inconsistent with the purpose and language of the rule to prohibit improper influence of a judge. In the Committee’s opinion, revision of the rule to allow such contributions may be appropriate.

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