Thursday, September 26, 2002

Inquiry Regarding the Ethics of Attorney Specialization

This morning, a person made an inquiry to my firm that I will display here, as I feel that it might be helpful to others:

Inquiry: Is it legal and/or ethical for an attorney to take/accept a case that is not within his field of specialization?

Attorney Response:

First, we have to be careful about the word “specialization”. In Delaware, there is no mechanism for an attorney to be certified as a “specialist” except in some rare circumstances. What we should say is…”our usual area of practice”. Or some such other language.

The official comment to the Delaware Rule of Professional Conduct (the attorney ethics rules) 1.1 clearly sets out that an attorney may undertake a case with which she has absolutely no experience. What that attorney must do, however, is take the necessary steps to bring herself up to speed so that she can provide competent legal advice.

Having said that, it is something that should be monitored, and applied with caution and planning.