In this month’s What You Need to Know, we profile recent rule amendments, proposed rule amendments and three recent ethics opinions.
Amendments to Colo. RPC 1.6 and Colo. RPC 1.15A
In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Colorado Electronic Preservation of Abandoned Estate Planning Documents Act. On May 14, 2020, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted amendments to Colo. RPC 1.6 and Colo. RPC 1.15A, effective January 1, 2021, to address lawyers’ professional obligations in relation to the Act.
Proposed rule changes
The Colorado Supreme Court has proposed amendments to Colo. RPCs 7.1-7.5 regarding advertising, and has requested public comments regarding the amendments. Written comments should be submitted to Cheryl Stevens, Clerk of the Supreme Court. Comments may be mailed or delivered to 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and received no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 9, 2020. For more information, click here and scroll past the year categories: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Rule_Changes.cfm
The Colorado Supreme Court has proposed amendments to the contingent fee rule, which would move the substance of C.R.C.P. 23.3 Rules Governing Contingent Fees into Colo. RPC 1.5 Fees, among other changes. The Colorado Supreme Court will hold a public hearing regarding the amendments on September 23, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. in the Colorado Supreme Court Courtroom, 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, Colorado. The deadline for written comments is September 3, 2020. For more information regarding the hearing and the submission of written comments, click here and scroll past the year categories: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Rule_Changes.cfm
ABA Formal Opinion 491
In April 2020, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Opinion 491 Obligations Under Rule 1.2(d) to Avoid Counseling or Assisting in a Crime or Fraud in Non-Litigation Settings. The Opinion discusses a lawyer’s duty pursuant to Model Rule 1.2(d) not to advise or assist a client in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. Because knowledge can be inferred from the circumstances, the Opinion explains that when facts are known to the lawyer to establish a high probability the client seeks to use the lawyer’s services for criminal or fraudulent activity, the lawyer has a duty to inquire further to avoid advising or assisting that activity. The Opinion also explains the duty to inquire further may be required by a lawyer’s obligations pursuant to other Rules of Professional Conduct, including 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.13, 1.16 and 8.4. ABA Formal Opinion 491 .
CBA Ethics Opinion 140
In March 2020, the Ethics Committee of the Colorado Bar Association issued Formal Opinion 140 Ethical Issues When a Lawyer Serves as an Escrow Agent. The Opinion discusses the ethics of acting as an escrow agent for two or more parties when the lawyer represents one of the parties. The Opinion concludes a lawyer may act in both capacities provided the lawyer is able to fulfill the lawyer’s duties to all parties under the escrow agreement without creating a conflict in the fulfillment of the lawyer’s ethical obligations to the lawyer’s client. CBA Formal Opinion 140 .
Pennsylvania Bar Association Ethics Opinion 2020-300
Looking for guidance about remote working during a pandemic? In April 2020, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 2020-300 Ethical Obligations for Lawyers Working Remotely. The Opinion discusses various ethical issues that arise for lawyers working remotely, specifically issues regarding security and confidentiality of client data. Formal Opinion 2020-300 .