Bar News - November 17, 2006
Key Changes Proposed for the NH Ethics Rules
Rule 1.5 (a) – “unreasonable” fees and expenses barred – more stringent than the “clearly excessive” fee standard now in the rule.
Rule 1.5(b) Alternative versions offered -written fee agreement required or “a writing” recommended to inform clients.
Rule 1.5(f) Alternative versions offered – “naked” referral fees allowed, or a slight revision of current language requiring a referring attorney to assume a portion of responsibility and work on the case.
Rule 1.15 (d) Permits withdrawal of fees from client account only when “earned.” Impact on flat-fee cases expected to be significant.
Rule 1.6 Greater discretion allowed attorneys on disclosure of client confidences to prevent “reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.”
Rule 1.18 Allows screening of lawyer within a firm to allow the firm to represent a client with interests adverse to a prospective client.
Rule 3.3 Changes prohibition of misstatements to all statements, not just those that are material, and adds requirement that lawyer must correct previous false statements.
Rule 3.6 A lawyer may make extrajudicial statements if required to protect a client from substantial prejudice caused by the statements of someone other than the client, including “third parties.”
Rule 5.5 Lawyers in good standing in other jurisdictions may provide limited legal services in New Hampshire, including out-of-state in-house counsel to provide legal services to their employer.
Rule 5.7 Clarifying that the RPC applies unless business services are provided in circumstances distinct from the provision of legal services.
Rule 6.1 Two proposals offered – Pro Bono Referral program version specifies that attorneys provide 50 hours of legal services to persons of limited means, or organizations that serve such individuals, and an Ethics Committee version which deletes the specific number of hours and substitutes “an appropriate number of hours, consistent with the lawyer’s circumstances.”
Rule 7.3 Eases the rules under which in-person and written client solicitation is allowed.
Throughout the rules. “Informed consent” standard replaces “consent after consultation.”
These bullet points drawn largely from materials prepared by Peter G. Beeson, Mitchell M. Simon and Elizabeth J. Baker, Devine Millimet & Branch, Manchester. Attorney Simon also was the lead presenter of a one-hour, non-credit program discussing the rules that is available online at no charge through the Online CLE portal at www.nhbar.org.