Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

Subcommittee turns to proactive regulation

The Proactive Management-Based Regulation subcommittee has drafted a set of proposed regulatory objectives and will now begin developing a program to help lawyers and their firms implement an ethical infrastructure.


Winter 2016

The Proactive Management-Based Regulation (PMBR) subcommittee is developing a new program to help our Colorado lawyers better serve their clients and simplify their professional lives. The new program will be designed to identify the common risks we lawyers now face when practicing law and will provide effective management systems to address those risks.

The traditional approach to attorney regulation in the U.S. is chiefly reactive. The subcommittee was formed last year to study a different approach, one centered on prevention and not solely discipline. If enacted, Colorado?s PMBR program would be the first of its kind in this country.

Any proposal by the subcommittee will be submitted to the Supreme Court for their consideration.

The subcommittee has met on a monthly basis since August 2015 and has already completed its first task: drafting a proposed new Rule 200, Regulatory Objectives of the Colorado Supreme Court. Those regulatory objectives are now pending before the Supreme Court. The draft regulatory objectives focus on protecting the public and promoting the public interest through proactive programs that educate lawyers in their continuing professional development, improve client service and reduce client complaints.

Next on the subcommittee?s agenda is development of a Proactive Management-Based Regulation (PMBR) program. The goal of this program is to assist lawyers in implementing and maintaining effective management systems for ethical law practice. Here is a roadmap for the subcommittee?s PMBR process, bearing in mind that roadmaps are not always followed.

The subcommittee has already identified the 10 common principles, or elements, that are encouraged for any law firm?s ethical infrastructure. These 10 principles are:

1.     Developing competent practices

2.     Communicating in an effective, timely and civil manner, and professionalism

3.     Ensuring confidentiality

4.     Avoiding conflicts of interest

5.     Maintaining appropriate file and records management systems

6.     Ensuring effective management of the legal entity and staff

7.     Charging appropriate fees and disbursements

8.     Having appropriate systems in place to safeguard client trust money and property

9.     Working to improve the administration of justice and access to legal services

10. Creating a culture of wellness


At its February 2016 monthly meeting, the subcommittee will break into 10 working groups to develop a self-evaluation tool in each of those 10 categories so law firms have effective management systems in place to address these common risks. The subcommittee has three example self-evaluation tools to work from:

Nova Scotia Self-Assessment Form

The Canadian Bar Association Ethical Practices Self-Evaluation Tool

Colorado Self-Audit checklist

Following the development of the self-evaluation tool, the subcommittee will focus on drawing together helpful resources for the practitioner should the practitioner lack any part of such an ethical infrastructure. And then the subcommittee will address how to encourage Colorado lawyers to take advantage of the self-evaluation and PMBR resources, whether through incentives or other methods.

The subcommittee membership includes Advisory Committee members, Colorado Bar Association leadership and staff members, numerous sole practitioners, respondent?s counsel, other private practice lawyers, a law firm administrator, a Better Business Bureau representative, an Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge staff attorney, the Executive Director of the Colorado Lawyers Assistance Program, Attorney Regulation Counsel and staff members.? The subcommittee is now composed of the following members: Chair David Stark, Amy DeVan, Barbara Ezyk, Brett Corporon, Charles Garcia, Charles Mortimer, Cori Peterson, David Wollins, Dick Reeve, Genet Johnson, Greg Martin, Jack Hanley, James Carlson, James Sudler, Jay Fernandez, Jim Coyle, Karen Hammer, Katy Donnelly, Mark Lyda, Marcy Glenn, Matt Samuelson, Melinda Harper, Michael Mihm, Patricia Jarzobski, Reba Nance, Suzann Bacon, Vince Buzek, and William Ojile.

Who wins with such a program? Everyone. Clients get better service, lawyers get the tools they need to improve their law practice in an efficient and helpful way, consumer complaints are reduced and public confidence in the legal system is improved.

Jim Coyle is Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court. He assists the Court in regulating the practice of law in Colorado, including attorney admissions, registration, discipline, disability, diversion, continuing legal and judicial education, unauthorized practice and inventory counsel functions.