United States District Court
Northern District Of Illinois
LR83.55.2. Responsibilities of a Subordinate Lawyer
(a) A lawyer is bound by these rules notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the
direction of another person.
(b) A subordinate lawyer does not violate these rules if that lawyer acts in
accordance with a supervisory lawyer’s reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.
Committee Comment. Although a lawyer is not relieved of responsibility for a violation of the
fact that the lawyer acted at the direction of a supervisor, that fact may be
relevant in determining whether a lawyer had the knowledge required to render
conduct a violation of the rules. For example, if a subordinate filed a frivolous
pleading at the direction of a supervisor, the subordinate would not be guilty of
a professional violation unless the subordinate knew of the document’s frivolous character.
When lawyers in a supervisor-subordinate relationship encounter a matter
involving professional judgment as to ethical duty, the supervisor may assume
responsibility for making the judgment. Otherwise a consistent course of action or
position could not be taken. If the question can reasonably be answered only one
way, the duty of both lawyers is clear and they are equally responsible for
fulfilling it. However, if the question is reasonably arguable, someone has to
decide upon the course of action. That authority ordinarily reposes in the
supervisor, and a subordinate may be guided accordingly. For example, if a question
arises whether the interests of two clients conflict under LR83.51.7, the
supervisor’s reasonable resolution of the question should protect the subordinate
professionally if the resolution is subsequently challenged.