In the few past months, we’ve often found ourselves navigating unfamiliar situations. While this may be necessary to deal with the pandemic, working in the unfamiliar should not apply to the matters you handle for your clients. Undertaking representation outside your area of expertise can often lead to malpractice claims or disciplinary complaints.
During difficult economic times, we understand the increased temptation to “dabble” in another practice area. Whether you are trying to offset declining revenue or help someone in need of legal services, it is NEVER a good idea to dabble in areas of practice with which you have little or no experience. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Keep in mind that Rule 1.1 Competence of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct requires that, “a lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”
Comment  lists relevant factors for determining whether a lawyer has the requisite knowledge and skill in a particular matter:
- the relative complexity and specialized nature of the matter
- the lawyer’s general experience
- the lawyer’s training and experience in the field in question
- the preparation and study the lawyer is able to give the matter
- whether it is feasible to refer the matter to, or associate or consult with, a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.
However, as Comment  explains, a lawyer CAN provide adequate representation through necessary study or through association with a lawyer of established competence in this new area of law you wish to undertake.
While it may be tempting to accept representation in order to keep the revenue flowing, especially during this crisis, we urge you to either avoid doing so or follow the guidance offered in Comment .
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
Gretchen Mote, Esq.,
Director of Loss Prevention