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Bar News - September 8, 2006


New Ethics Rules Discussed on Web cast


 

            A lively one-hour discussion—available online at www.nhbar.org—explores  important pending changes in the NH Rules of Professional Conduct. This non-credit Web cast can help members understand the potential impact of a comprehensive proposal now pending before the NH Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules.

           

The comprehensive rewrite of NH’s ethics rules, developed by the

 NHBA Ethics Committee

Russell Hilliard (at left) moderated the Aug. 16 Web cast on the New Ethics Rules Proposal at the Bar Center. Panelists include (left to right) Charles Bauer, Ethics Committee chair; Mitchell Simon, Pierce Law professor; Honey Hastings, family law attorney; and Richard Guerriero, of the NH Public Defender.

NHBA Ethics Committee at the request of the NH Supreme Court, was the subject of a preliminary comment period that ended Sept. 1. However, the Rules Committee is expected to take several more months to review the changes before submitting it for public comment again. So, the opportunity for Bar members to have input has not totally closed.

           

Go to the Online CLE section at www.nhbar.org to access this FREE one-hour, non-credit Web cast.

           

The program, moderated by NHBA CLE Chair Russell Hilliard, features comments from Richard Guerriero, litigation director for the NH Public Defender; Honey Hastings, a former Ethics Committee member and a family law attorney; Charles Bauer, current Ethics Committee chair; and longtime Ethics Committee member Mitchell Simon, a Pierce Law professor who is of counsel to the Devine Millimet firm.

           



Among the highlights of their discussion:

 

  • A New Hampshire proposal that contains an innovative exception to the ban on the use of contingency fee agreements in family law cases. The exception would allow attorneys a contingency fee arrangement to help collect child-support, thus advancing the public policy goal of facilitating representation for individuals who might otherwise not be able to obtain the services of a lawyer.
  • The issue of whether to allow “naked referrals”—whereby attorneys share in the legal fees for a case they refer but do not provide services for—is hotly contested. Some attorneys contend that referral fees will encourage attorneys to refer cases that they would not be qualified to handle; those opposing a change to the current system believe that allowing the practice would encourage the incursion into NH of “clearinghouse” law firms focused on advertising to draw clients in and turn them over to lawyers for referral fees.
  • Rule 7.3, which relaxes rules regarding solicitation of business clients and is a welcome acknowledgment of the realities of law firm marketing.

 

The entire proposal of RPC changes is found at the link for “Rewriting the Rules” at www.nhbar.org. View the changes online, rule-by-rule or download a 200-page PDF which compares the proposal with the current rules and with the ABA’s language.

           

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