Tuesday, November 17, 2009
State Bar Board of Governors Approves 35 Rule Revisions
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California yesterday announced that its Board of Governors has approved 35 revisions of the California Rules of Professional Conduct on issues ranging from lawyers as third-party neutrals and fees to communication with a represented person and competence.
State Bar President Howard Miller commented that “[t]he work is now moving along,” after nine years of work by the Rules Revision Commission, noting that “the timetable on the rules revision calls for completion of the redrafting and renumbering during the summer of 2010 and then submitting the rules to the California Supreme Court, which has final authority for their adoption.”
The approved revisions included:
•Creation of a requirement that an attorney serving as a third-party neutral explain the difference between an advocate and third-party neutral to someone unlikely to be aware of the distinction.
•Retention of California’s current standard prohibiting, for disciplinary purposes, an “unconscionable fee“ instead of adopting the ABA’s standard that prohibits an “unreasonable fee.”
•Adoption of the ABA Model Rule that expands ex parte communication to include all represented “persons” as opposed to the current rule which applies only to a represented “party.”
•Clarification that a lawyer shall not intentionally, recklessly or repeatedly fail to perform legal services with competence, and the definition of “competence” as applying the diligence, learning, skill and mental, emotional and physical ability reasonably necessary for the performance of such service.
The numbering of all the new rules were also changed to conform to the numbering system and subject area of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Proposed rules dealing with sex with a client and conflicts of interest were referred back to the commission for further work, a spokesperson for the State Bar said, while proposed rules on reporting the egregious behavior of another attorney and business transactions and adverse interests were tabled until the January meeting for further discussion.
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