(1) As used in this rule, the term "entity" shall mean a professional corporation, a limited liability company, or a limited liability partnership organized to practice law pursuant to the laws of any state or other jurisdiction of the United States and which practices law in the Commonwealth. The provisions of such laws shall be applicable to attorneys practicing law in the Commonwealth subject to the terms and conditions of this rule. Such terms and conditions are necessary and appropriate for the purpose of making the provisions of those laws applicable to attorneys. As used in this rule, the term "owner" shall mean a shareholder of a professional corporation, a member of a limited liability company, or a partner of a limited liability partnership.
(2) In addition to other provisions required by law, the articles of organization or similar organizational document ("Charter") of each entity shall contain provisions to assure compliance with the following requirements:
(a) All owners shall be persons who are duly licensed by this court to practice law in the Commonwealth, if they are actively engaged in the practice of law in the Commonwealth, or duly licensed by the licensing authority of the jurisdiction in which they are actively engaged in the practice of law. All owners shall be in good standing before this court or before the licensing authority of the jurisdiction in which they are actively engaged in the practice of law, and all owners of the entity shall own their shares or other ownership interests in their own right. All owners shall be individuals who, except for temporary absence due to illness or accident, time spent in the Armed Services of the United States, vacations, and leaves of absence not to exceed two years, are actively engaged in the practice of law as employees or owners of the entity. Notwithstanding the foregoing, an owner may be an entity rather than an individual, provided that the owners of such entity are individuals who satisfy all of the other conditions of this rule.
(b) Any owner who ceases to be eligible to be an owner and the executor, administrator, or other legal representative of a deceased owner shall be required to dispose of his or her shares or other ownership interests as soon as reasonably possible either to the entity or to an individual or entity duly qualified to be an owner of the entity.
(c) The name of the entity shall contain words or abbreviations that indicate that it is a limited liability entity and shall also conform to the requirements of Mass. R. Prof. C. 7.5.
(d) All owners of the entity shall, by becoming owners, agree to the provisions of this rule, including without limitation paragraph (3) of this rule.
(e) All directors of a professional corporation and managers of a limited liability company, as the case may be, shall be owners.
(3) The following provisions are established with respect to the liability of the owners of an entity with respect to damages which arise out of the performance of legal services by the entity, such provisions to be in addition to any statutory or common law rules of general application which deal with the liability of entities and their owners:
(a) Each owner of the entity shall be personally liable for damages which arise out of the performance of legal services on behalf of the entity and which are caused by his or her own negligent or wrongful act, error, or omission. Owners of the entity whose acts, errors, or omissions did not cause the damages shall not be personally liable therefor, whether or not they have agreed with any owners or employees or other persons to contribute to the payment of the liability, except to the extent provided in subparagraphs (b), (c), and (d).
(b) All the owners of an entity which is a professional corporation at the time of any negligent or wrongful act, error, or omission of any owner or employee of said entity which occurs in the performance of legal services by said entity and which results in damages to the person or persons for whom the services were being performed shall be jointly and severally liable for such damages, but only to the extent of the excess, if any, of (1) the sum of $50,000 plus the product of $15,000 multiplied by the number of owners and employees of said entity at the time of such act, error, or omission who are duly licensed by this court to practice law in the Commonwealth, or duly licensed to practice law by the licensing authority in the jurisdiction in which they practice, and who are owners of or employed by said entity as lawyers, but not in excess of $500,000 in the aggregate, over (2) the sum of the assets of said entity and the proceeds of any insurance policy issued to it which are applied to the payment of such damages.
(c) Each entity which is not a professional corporation shall maintain at all times either (a) professional liability insurance covering negligence, wrongful acts, errors, and omissions of said entity and its owners and employees in connection with their performance of legal services in an amount per claim and in an annual aggregate limit, exclusive of any deductible or retention, not less than the Designated Amount, or (b) a specifically designated and segregated fund for the satisfaction of judgments against said entity or its owners or employees based on their professional negligence, wrongful acts, errors, or omissions in connection with their performance of legal services in not less than the Designated Amount, maintained as (i) a deposit in trust or a bank escrow of cash, bank certificates of deposit, or United States Treasury obligations, or (ii) a bank letter of credit or an insurance company bond. As used herein the term "Designated Amount" shall mean $50,000 plus the product of $15,000 multiplied by the number of owners and employees of said entity who are licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth or another jurisdiction, but not in excess of $500,000 in the aggregate. If such an entity fails to maintain insurance or a fund in the Designated Amount in compliance with this rule, its owners at the time when a professional liability claim is asserted shall be jointly and severally liable to the claimant for an amount not to exceed the Designated Amount applicable at that time, less the sum of the assets of said entity and the proceeds of any professional liability insurance policy issued to it which are applied to the payment of said liability.
(d) If an entity is an owner (an "ownership entity") or a partner in a general partnership, the provisions of subparagraphs (a), (b), and (c) shall apply to each of the individual owners of such ownership entity or such partners, and the formulas in subparagraphs (b) and (c) shall be based on all of the individual owners, partners, and employees of the entity or general partnership and of each ownership entity and partner thereof who is licensed to practice law.
(4) The entity shall at all times comply with all applicable standards of professional conduct which may be established by this court or by the licensing authority of any jurisdiction in which the entity practices law. Any violation of such standards shall be grounds for this court, after hearing and if it deems the circumstances appropriate, to terminate or suspend the right of the entity to practice law in the Commonwealth.
(5) Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to diminish or change the obligation of each attorney who is an owner of or who is employed by the entity or an ownership entity to conduct the practice of law in accordance with generally recognized standards of professional conduct and in accordance with any specific standards which may be promulgated by this court or the licensing authority of the jurisdiction in which the attorney practices. Any attorney who by act or omission causes the entity to act or fail to act in a way which violates any applicable standard of professional conduct, including any provision of this rule, shall be personally responsible for such act or omission and shall be subject to discipline therefor.
(6) Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to modify, abrogate, or reduce the attorney-client privilege or any comparable privilege or relationship whether statutory or deriving from the common law.
(7) Nothing in this rule shall prohibit the use of a voting trust to hold stock of a professional corporation. For all purposes under this rule, a person who holds a beneficial interest in such a voting trust shall be treated as a shareholder of the corporation, and, additionally, shall be deemed to own in his or her own right a percentage of shares in the corporation equal to his or her percentage of beneficial interest in the shares held by the voting trust.
(8) An entity which is a limited liability partnership or a limited liability company shall not be deemed to be an "association" pursuant to G. L. c. 221, § 46 .