Proposed Rules ArchivesRPC 1.15A - Safeguarding Property
Suggested Changes to
The proposed amendment is intended to narrow the duty of a lawyer to account annually to a client regarding client property in the lawyer’s possession. The existing rule was adopted in July 2006 as part of the “Ethics 2003” amendments, which became effective on September 1, 2006. Paragraph (e) of RPC 1.15A requires a lawyer, on at least an annual basis, to account to a client or third person for whom the lawyer is holding “property.” When interpreted in conjunction with Comment  to the rule, however, the annual accounting requirement is overbroad and unduly burdensome. Comment  defines “property” to include “original documents affecting legal rights such as wills or deeds.” By extending an annual written accounting requirement to all property, including original documents, RPC 1.15A(e) created a new reporting obligation that encompassed a potentially vast array of materials that lawyers routinely hold on behalf of clients. The benefits of periodically providing such information to clients are outweighed by the burdens involved in compliance. By limiting the requirement to “funds,” the rule will exclude nonmonetary property from the annual reporting obligation, but the general obligation to safeguard all client property in the lawyer’s possession will not be affected.
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