VIRGINIA UPL OPINION 121


Delegating Tax and Estate Planning Work to a Non-lawyer Employee.

You have provided the following information:

I have recently opened a practice in Norfolk. Several clients have needs in the areas of taxation, estate planning and investments. Although I have experience in these areas, it is my preference to delegate this work to a non-lawyer accountant (non-CPA) whom I pay hourly. I would gladly vouch for this man’s competence and integrity.

My inquiry is whether this proposed delegation is consistent with Canon 3 and UPR 5. It is my intention to clearly inform clients that the person counseling them is not an attorney and to oversee all work performed.

Unauthorized Practice Rule 5 governs this question. It would be improper for your non-lawyer employee to directly counsel clients in the areas of taxation, estate planning and investments since this would imply that he possesses legal knowledge or skill in these areas.

It is permissible under the Rule for such an employee to advise you on matters of taxation, estate planning investments so long as the contact with, and advice given to, the client is performed by a properly licensed lawyer.

Committee Opinion
June 9, 1988
Updated: Aug 28, 2006