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Attorney E-Newsletter

September 2008

Supreme Court Adopts New Money Handling Guidelines

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted a major revision of the Pennsylvania Rules regarding the handling of client funds by lawyers. In its order dated September 4, 2008, the Supreme Court adopted major changes to Rule 1.15 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct and Rule 221 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement. The full text of the revisions is set forth here.

The amendments are effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which is scheduled for September 20, 2008. We will have a detailed report of the changes in the next edition of the Newsletter and posted at our website, www.padb.us, within the next few weeks.

Comment Time for Conservatorship Rules Extended

In our last edition, we reported on proposed changes to Rules 321 through 328 of the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, regarding conservators for absent attorneys, published at 38 Pa.B. 4504 (August 16, 2008). Originally the deadline for comments on the changes was set for September 8, 2008.

However, due to the interest the rule changes have stimulated, the comment time has been extended until October 31, 2008.

Comments may be addressed to Office of the Secretary, The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, First Floor, Two Lemoyne Drive, Lemoyne, PA 17043.

ABA Okays Outsourcing

The Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the American Bar Association has handed down a major ethics opinion, Formal Opinion 08-451, on the subject of outsourcing legal or nonlegal support services. The Committee’s conclusion, controversial in some quarters, finds that “A lawyer may outsource legal or nonlegal support services provided the lawyer remains ultimately responsible for rendering competent legal services to the client under Model Rule 1.1.” The Committee’s approval extends even to the outsourcing of work to lawyers in foreign countries.

The opinion has generated some controversy and concerns. Next month we will discuss the opinion in more detail and also report on some of the concerns and reactions it has generated.

It’s Not Nice to Diss Your Disciplinary Counsel

The Supreme Court suspended a Philadelphia lawyer for three years, raising the sanction recommended by the Disciplinary Board by a year, after he engaged in a profane, threatening tirade against the Disciplinary Counsel trying his case in the lobby of the Disciplinary Board office after his hearing. The Disciplinary Board commented, “Respondent’s petulant and childish behavior following the disciplinary hearing that took the form of insults directed at disciplinary counsel is also seen by the Board as an indication that Respondent has a long way to go before his recovery can be viewed as proceeding smoothly.” The case is Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Sigal, No. 14 DB 2006.

We value hearing from our readers. Address your questions, comments, suggestions, ideas to comments@padisciplinaryboard.org.