November 18, 2017

The Colorado Lawyer Self-Assessment Program

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jonathan White of the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. You can find out more about the lawyer self-assessment survey on the OARC website

By Jonathan P. White, Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Colorado has launched its new lawyer self-assessment program designed to help lawyers better serve clients and simplify their professional lives. This program arises out of a multi-year initiative of a subcommittee of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee. Over 50 practicing lawyers have participated in the subcommittee. They have drawn from their professional experience to identify practices that promote client service, that lead to more efficient office management, and that allow lawyers to assess their practice’s ethical infrastructure. The subcommittee’s goal is to help lawyers assess their practice and identify points of excellence and areas for improvement.

There are ten individual areas of self-assessment:

  1. Developing a competent practice;
  2. Communicating in an effective, timely, professional manner and maintaining relations;
  3. Ensuring that confidentiality requirements are met;
  4. Avoiding conflicts of interest;
  5. Maintaining appropriate file and records management systems;
  6. Managing the law firm/legal entity and staff appropriately;
  7. Charging appropriate fees and making appropriate disbursements;
  8. Ensuring that reliable trust account practices are in use;
  9. Working to improve the administration of justice and access to legal services; and
  10. Wellness and inclusivity.

Ultimately, these self-assessments should help attorneys avoid grievances and alleviate some of the stress associated with practice, especially for solo and small firm practitioners and those new to practice. The self-assessments are voluntary and confidential. The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel does not receive any personally-attributable answers. The assessments offer links to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and to a variety of educational resources ranging from template forms to advisory opinions to articles on current professionalism issues.

Lawyers can now view and complete the self-assessments through the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel’s website: https://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/AboutUs/LawyerSelfAssessmentProgram.asp. Lawyers can choose to take all ten self-assessments through an online survey platform accessible at the top of the previously-referenced webpage. This online platform may be used on a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device. As an alternative, lawyers may also download the print/PDF survey through the same webpage. After completing either the online self-assessment or the print/PDF version, lawyers may claim up to three general credit hours and three ethics credit hours of continuing legal education. A CLE affidavit is available on the self-assessment program webpage, as well as through the online survey itself.

Colorado Supreme Court: Failure to Pay Funds to Third Party Constituted Knowing Conversion by Attorney

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Kleinsmith on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct—Attorney Discipline—Conversion—Due Process—Equal Protection.

This attorney disciplinary proceeding required the supreme court to determine whether an attorney commits knowing conversion, in violation of Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) 1.15A and 8.4(c), when he bills a client for services performed by a third party and then uses for his own purposes the client funds he received that were intended to pay for the third party’s services. This proceeding further required the court to determine whether the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s reading of the Rules violated the attorney’s rights to due process and equal protection. The court concluded that in the circumstances presented here, the attorney’s actions constituted knowing conversion in violation of the Rules and that the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s construction of the Rules to reach the same result did not violate any of the attorney’s constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the orders of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and the hearing board, including the order disbarring the attorney from the practice of law.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.