WSR 07-09-016

RULES OF COURT

STATE SUPREME COURT


[ April 5, 2007 ]

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE AMENDMENTS TO RPC 1.15A(e) )

)

)

ORDER

NO. 25700-A-867


The Washington State Bar Association having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendments to RPC 1.15A(e), and the Court having approved the proposed amendments for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED:

(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(g), the proposed amendments as attached hereto are to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and Office of the Administrator for the Court's websites expeditiously.

(b) The enforcement of the current provisions in RPC 1.15A(e) requiring at least an annual written accounting to a client or third person for whom the lawyer is holding property are stayed during the rule making process.

(c) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(e), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(d) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than 60 days from the published date. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Camilla.Faulk@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 5th day of April, 2007.

For the Court

Gerry L. Alexander

CHIEF JUSTICE


RPC 1.15A(e)

Purpose


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 [5] to the rule, however, the annual accounting requirement is overbroad and unduly burdensome. Comment [5] 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.


RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT (RPC)

RULE 1.15A: SAFEGUARDING PROPERTY


(a) - (d) [Unchanged.]

(e) A lawyer must promptly provide a written accounting to a client or third person after distribution of property or upon request. A lawyer must provide at least annually a written accounting to a client or third person for whom the lawyer is holding property funds.

(f) - (j) [Unchanged.]

Washington Comments

[Unchanged.]

Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office