OARC Update

A bimonthly newsletter of the
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

On January 2, 2024, a break-in at the Ralph Carr Judicial Center resulted in significant damage to the building, including the 5th floor where our offices are located. Fortunately, many of the services we provide are available electronically. We’ll provide updates regarding the status of the office space through this newsletter and blast emails. In the meantime, while we can receive mail at the building, when possible, please use email and phone services to communicate with our office. We appreciate your patience.


Attorney Registration is in Process
If you have not completed your attorney registration for 2024, now is a good time to do it!  The deadline for registration without a late fee is February 28, 2024 (note: this date is set by rule and is not the last day of the month in February).  Please go to: https://www.coloradosupremecourt.us/Current%20Lawyers/eRegistration.asp.

Demographic Survey

Again this year, with the attorney registration statement, we included a link to an online demographic survey hosted by Survey Monkey. If you have not completed this voluntary and anonymous survey, please do so in the coming weeks as the survey will close at the end of the attorney registration cycle.  Higher participation will allow us to better understand and monitor shifts in the demographics of the Colorado bar. 

Click here to complete the survey.  This short survey takes only 1-2 minutes to complete. 


In this month’s What You Need to Know, we profile a recent update to Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 and a recent Colorado Supreme Court case.

Comment 14 to Rule 1.2 Amended to Address Mushrooms
On January 11, 2024, and effective immediately, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted an amendment to comment [14] to Rule 1.2 to reflect Colorado’s regulated legalization of psilocybin and certain other substances through the Colorado Natural Medicine Act of 2022 and related measures.  Because the act allows legal use of certain substances that remain unlawful under federal law, the amendment adds a reference to the Natural Medicine Act in the so-called “marijuana comment” to Rule 1.2 to provide guidance to lawyers advising clients on compliance with state law.  The amendment can be reviewed here.

Colorado Supreme Court Analyzes Colo. RPC 5.6

In Johnson Family Law, P.C. v. Bursek, the Colorado Supreme Court analyzed Colo. RPC 5.6(a), which prohibits restrictions on the right to practice. The case involved a “Reimbursement Agreement” between an associate and the law firm which provided that the lawyer would reimburse the law firm for marketing expenses related to any client, case or active matter that left the firm and followed the lawyer. The agreement set the per-client amount at $1,052. When the lawyer left and eighteen clients elected to go with him, the firm asserted the lawyer owed the firm $18,936, which the lawyer refused to pay. The law firm sued for breach of contract. In considering the case, the court held that the undifferentiated fee assessed for each client who chose to follow the departing lawyer violated Rule 5.6(a). The court also held that Rule 5.6(a) constitutes public policy, and because contracts that violate public policy are unenforceable, the agreement was unenforceable. The decision also explained that the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of severability sua sponte without explaining the justification for doing so. On this point, the court stated “an appellate court may not sua sponte address issues not presented by the parties without offering some clear justification for doing so.”  The case was affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. 2024CO1


As our society grapples with how artificial intelligence (AI) will evolve and impact many facets of our lives, there are unique considerations for lawyers: we must reconcile use of this technology with our professional obligations. In the January/February 2024 issue of the Colorado Lawyer, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Maria Berkenkotter and Court of Appeals Judge Lino Lipinsky de Orlov examine ethical issues that may be implicated by a lawyer’s or judge’s use of AI, and how the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Code of Judicial Conduct may need to be amended to account for these AI-related issues. Artificial Intelligence and Professional Conduct Considering the Ethical Implications of Using Electronic Legal Assistants.


The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility Working Group on ABA Model Rule 5.5 is considering the preparation of proposed amendments to Rule 5.5 to increase permissible cross-border practice and/or to eliminate the need to be admitted to the bar in other jurisdictions once a lawyer is admitted to practice in one United States jurisdiction. The Working Group has created an Issue Paper, seeking comments regarding the regulatory implications of such possible changes. The Issue Paper can be viewed here.


The CBA Ethics Committee has issued Ethics Opinion 147, Expecting the Unexpected: Ethical Considerations In Succession Planning.  The opinion provides guidance to all private practice lawyers. Solo and small firm lawyers will particularly benefit from the discussion of responsibilities in preparing a specific plan for unexpected events that compel a lawyer to stop practicing, as well as the responsibilities for assisting another lawyer who has encountered such a time in their practice.  The opinion also explains the nature of the assistance that can be provided by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel through its inventory counsel program if an attorney dies or becomes disabled and has no succession plan.  Ethics Opinion 147 can be accessed here.


Ryann Peyton, the Executive Director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, discusses the Colorado Supreme Court Well-Being Recognition Program and ways to get involved.
If lawyers don’t take care of each other, who will? The Colorado Supreme Court’s Colorado Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers is launching its 2024 program. A step forward in shifting the culture of well-being in Colorado’s legal profession, this first-of-its-kind Program recognizes legal employers for implementing well-being strategies and recommendations in their organizations.
The program includes an annual Pledge to Well-Being, a facilitated educational series offering idea crowdsourcing for well-being strategies, and recognition by the Colorado Supreme Court for your organization’s well-being commitments and achievements.
We hope you’ll join us in 2024 to make Colorado a national leader in lawyer-led well-being solutions. As the research conclusively bears out: (1) well lawyers are more effective and achieve better outcomes; (2) well-being breeds job satisfaction; and (3) well-being reduces the risk of attorney discipline. Promoting attorney well-being is good for business, good for clients, and the right thing to do!
Brief informational webinars are available to organizational leaders seeking additional information. You can reach out directly to program director Ryann Peyton at r.peyton@csc.state.co.us with specific questions or to schedule a webinar for your organization.
Visit https://coloradolawyerwellbeing.org for more information and to take the 2024 pledge!


Jan. 31 Last day to submit CLE credits for compliance cycle ending in 2023
Feb. 1 Application filing period opens for July 2024 bar exam
Feb. 2 Trust Account School, OARC webinar (Margaret Funk and J.P. Moore)
Feb. 27-28   February 2023 Bar Exam, Douglas County Fairgrounds
Feb. 28 Last day to complete annual registration fee without late fee
March 11 Practicing with Professionalism, CBA-CLE webinar

Copyright © 2024 Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, Colorado Supreme Court, All rights reserved.

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