Division of fees with nonlawyers; employment as business consultant giving legal advice to clients of corporation
The Committee considered your inquiry concerning whether a lawyer could be employed as a business consultant for a private corporation and, on behalf of the employer, perform basic legal services such as drafting contracts and giving legal advice to clients of the corporation. The Committee understood that the lawyer would be paid a salary by the corporation, and that the clients would be billed by the corporation on an hourly rate. The Committee was of the opinion that if what the lawyer did constituted the practice of law, then such conduct would be prohibited by RPC 5.4(a) because it would constitute sharing legal fees with non-lawyers. The Committee cannot, however, give an opinion regarding the legal questions of what constitutes the practice of law.