New Rules of Professional Conduct and lobbying
Last week the Supreme Court of Illinois issued new Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct to take effect Jan. 1, 2010. New Rule 3.9 has created quite a buzz among the lawyer-lobbyists as to what it means. It may have broader applicability than those of us who lobby in Springfield to include appearances before other governmental bodies. The Rule states that “A lawyer representing a client before a legislative body or administrative agency in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3(a) through (c), 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.” The incorporation of Rule 3.5 creates the buzz. Rule 3.5 prohibits ex parte communication with an official during the proceeding. Can this be construed to prohibit all lobbying by a lawyer-lobbyist unless it is part of a scheduled public hearing? In other words, is all I can do to lobby is testify in committee? No position papers to elected members of the General Assembly? No one-on-one individual lobbying? I can’t imagine that was the intent. Rule 3.5’s title is “Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal.” Key word is “tribunal.” It is defined in Rule 1.0(m) as follows: “Tribunal” denotes a court, an arbitrator in a binding arbitration proceeding or a legislative body, administrative agency or other body acting in an adjudicative capacity. A legislative body, administrative agency or other body acts in an adjudicative capacity when a neutral official, after the presentation of evidence or legal argument by a party or parties, will render a binding legal judgment directly affecting a party’s interests in a particular matter. Rule 3.5(b) supports this lack of intent as well: "A lawyer shall not communicate with such a person during the proceeding unless authorized to do so by law or court order;". Do lawyer-lobbyists register under the Lobbyist Registration Act and therefore are authorized under law to lobby? I don’t think lobbying members of the General Assembly is covered by this Rule.