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Bar News - April 7, 2006


Supreme Court Approves ‘Unbundling’ Rules

The NH Supreme Court, in an order dated March 21, has approved changes to superior, district and probate court rules, and to the Rules of Professional Conduct, to permit attorneys and clients to agree to a limited-scope of representation in most non-criminal cases.

           

(See page 25 for the order or visit www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/orders/20060321.pdf) for the text of all of the appendices containing the rules changes for each level of court.

           

Key elements of the new rules allow:

 

an attorney providing limited representation to an otherwise unrepresented litigant may file a limited appearance in a non-criminal case on behalf of such unrepresented party.

 

The limited appearance shall state precisely the scope of the limited representation, and the attorney’s involvement in the matter shall be limited only to what is specifically stated.

 

Any limited representation appearance filed by an attorney, properly entered, shall automatically terminate upon completion of the agreed representation, without the necessity of leave of Court, provided that the attorney provides the court with an appropriate “withdrawal of limited appearance.” 

 

If an attorney drafts a document to be filed by the client where the attorney will not be appearing in court on behalf of that client, the attorney is not required to disclose his or her identity on the pleading but the document must contain a statement that “This pleading was prepared with the assistance of a New Hampshire attorney.”

           

The Court’s rules were based on a draft developed by attorneys from several NHBA committees and based largely on research conducted by Keene attorney (and Pro Bono Governing Board Chair John Norton who also is an Ethics Committee member) and Virginia A. Martin, NHBA associate executive director for legal services.  

           

See http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/orders/R20050003.htm.


The requirement for the litigant to state to the court that the brief was prepared with the assistance of an attorney, but not be required to name the attorney, follows the approach set forth in an NHBA Ethics Committee “Practical Ethics” article published May 12, 1999. (See Legal Links at www.nhbar.org for access to Ethics Committee materials, or click on Ethics Committee materials in the Casemaker library.)

           

The NHBA CLE Committee will hold a half-day program on the new unbundling rules on May 31, 2006. See page 17 for details.

 

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