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Substitution of Criminal Defense Counsel

Adopted: July 14, 1989

Opinion rules that another member of a lawyer's firm may substitute for the lawyer in defending a criminal case if there is no prejudice to the client and the client and the court consent.

Editor's Note: This opinion was originally published as RPC 58 (Revised).


Attorney A frequently acts as court-appointed defense counsel for indigent clients. Is there an ethics opinion which requires the court appointed attorney to appear personally on the client's behalf? Would it be improper for another member of Attorney A's firm to appear on the client's behalf as substitute counsel?


The Rules of Professional Conduct do not prohibit one of Attorney A's partners from appearing on the client's behalf in a matter to which Attorney A has been assigned, so long as the substitution does not prejudice the client, and so long as the substitution is consented to by the client in open court and the substitution is approved and made by the court.

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