December 12, 2017

The Colorado Lawyer Self-Assessment Program

By Jonathan White, Esq., Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Do you need CLE credits? Check out Colorado’s new Lawyer Self-Assessment Program. The program allows you to self-assess your practice and identify areas of strength as well as areas for improvement. Colorado lawyers who participate in the program may claim up to three general and ethics credits. In addition, on Monday, December 11, 2017, CBA-CLE will host a 90 minute live seminar on the new program, “Proactive Practices: Protecting Client Confidences and Prioritizing Wellness to Run a Successful Practice,” where lawyers can claim an additional 2.0 general and 1.8 ethics credits (register here).

Lawyers can view and complete the self-assessments through the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel’s website: https://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/AboutUs/LawyerSelfAssessmentProgram.asp. An affidavit is available on the same page for lawyers to use to apply for CLE credit once they complete the self-assessment program. The program’s goals include helping lawyers better serve clients, instituting efficient, consistent law office management procedures, and allowing lawyers to reflect on whether they have procedures in place that promote compliance with professional obligations.

As a complement to this new initiative, CBA-CLE has hosted a series of lunch-hour CLE seminars devoted to the self-assessment program. The last in the series takes place Monday, December 11, beginning at noon. This seminar will explore proactive procedures that help lawyers comply with their duty to protect client confidences. It will also discuss lawyer well-being and why well-being is essential to a lawyer’s duty of competence. Register here for the December 11 program.

The Colorado Lawyer Self-Assessment Program arises out of a multi-year initiative of a subcommittee of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee. More than 50 practicing lawyers volunteered their time to identify ten areas of assessment and associated questions. The assessments draw from the collective professional experience of the subcommittee members. The ten areas of self-assessment include:

  1. Developing a competent practice;
  2. Communicating in an effective, timely, professional manner and maintaining professional client 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;
  10. Wellness and inclusivity.

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 Beware: Disciplinary Email Could Be Fraudulent Phishing Attack

A new email phishing scam is circulating, and this one is targeting lawyers. Emails purporting to be from the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel or Colorado Bar Association advising lawyers of disciplinary matters have been circulating to attorneys in Colorado and nationally. The emails say something like “Bar Complaint” in the subject line, and purport to advise of a disciplinary complaint against an attorney. If you receive such an email, do not open any attachments or click any links in the email. Delete the email.

The Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel does not advise attorneys of disciplinary matters via email. Disciplinary counsel will advise attorneys about whom a complaint has been filed via U.S. Mail or telephone. The Colorado Bar Association does not advise attorneys of disciplinary matters; lawyers should delete emails advising of disciplinary matters that originate from the CBA, and notify the CBA of the fraudulent email.

If you have any questions about an attorney discipline email that appears to be from the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, please call the OARC at (303) 457-5800.

First Rule Changes of 2014 Amend Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rules Governing Admission to the Bar

The Colorado State Judicial Branch released the first rule changes of 2014, amending Crim. P. 37, “Appeals from County Court,” and Rule 227, “Registration Fee,” of Chapter 18 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, “Rules Governing Admission to the Bar.”

Rule Change 2014(02) amends the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar. The change to Rule 227 specifies that $25 of attorney registration fees are to go to the Attorneys’ Fund for Client Protection and the remainder will go to defray the costs of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. Previously, $40 was allocated to the Attorneys’ Fund for Client Protection. This rule was adopted and effective January 16, 2014.

Rule Change 2014(01) makes several changes to subsection (c) of Rule 37 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure:

(c) Contents of Record on Appeal. Upon the filing of a notice of appeal and upon the posting of such ANY advance costs by the appellant, as may be ARE required for the preparation of a record, unless the appellant is granted leave to proceed as an indigent, the clerk of the county court shall prepare and issue as soon as may be possible a record of the proceedings in the county court, including the summons and complaint or warrant, the separate complaint if any has been issued, and the judgment. The record shall also include a transcription or a joint stipulation of such part of the actual evidence and other proceedings as the parties may designate. If the proceedings have been electronically recorded ELECTRONICALLY, the transcription of designated evidence and proceedings shall be prepared in the office of the clerk of the court, either by him OR HER or under his OR HER supervision, within 42 days after judgment THE FILING OF THE NQTICE OF APPEAL or within such additional time as may be granted by the county court. The clerk shall notify in writing the opposing parties of the completion of the record, and such parties shall have 14 days within which to file objections. If none are received, the record shall be certified forthwith by the judge clerk. If objections are made, the parties shall be called for hearing and the objections settled by the county judge and the record then certified.

For a list of the supreme court’s rule changes, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: PDJ’s Motion Alleging Probation Violations Filed Before Order for Successful Completion of Probation Issued

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Bass on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Attorney Discipline—CRCP 251.7.

Betty Bass appealed from the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s (PDJ) denial of her motion filed pursuant to CRCP 60(b)(3) for relief from his earlier order revoking her probation and suspending her license to practice law. After a half dozen unsuccessful attempts to notify Bass of his show cause order, by mail and e-mail, over a period of approximately four months, the PDJ found Bass in default of the Attorney Regulation Counsel’s allegations of violation. After another six months, Bass filed her motion, requesting relief on the grounds that the order revoking her probation was void, both for failure to provide her adequate notice and for failure of regulation counsel to assert a violation until after the period of her probation had expired. Bass then asked for a ruling on the PDJ’s authority to proceed in the absence of a motion to revoke filed by regulation counsel before the expiration of the period of probation originally imposed on her.

The Supreme Court affirmed the order denying Bass’s motion. The Attorney Regulation Counsel’s motion alleging probation violations and seeking a show cause order was filed with the PDJ before the issuance of an order of successful completion of probation, as required by CRCP 251.7 for termination. Therefore, the PDJ was empowered by the rule to lift the stay and activate Bass’s suspension.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Supreme Court: In Disciplinary Proceeding, PDJ Erred in Determining Issue Preclusion

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Matter of Greene on Monday, May 20, 2013.

Attorney Discipline—Claim Preclusion—Identity of Claims—Same Criminal Episode.

The Attorney Regulation Counsel sought review of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s (PDJ) order granting summary judgment in favor of respondent David Jerome Greene. The PDJ found that all of the claims in the complaint for attorney discipline should have been joined and adjudicated along with the claims raised in a previous complaint. Therefore, they were barred according to the doctrine of claim preclusion.

The Supreme Court held that although the doctrine of claim preclusion applies to complaints for attorney discipline, a single claim in that context is analogous to a single “criminal episode” for the purposes of barring sequential prosecutions of the same defendant. Because none of the claims alleged in the instant complaint was identical with any claim that had already been finally adjudicated, according to that standard, the PDJ erred. The Court therefore vacated the order granting summary judgment in favor of Greene and remanded the case for further proceedings on the claims as to which summary judgment was ordered.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Although Retaining Lien on U.S. Passport Improper, Hearing Board’s Decision Affirmed

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Attorney G. on Monday, April 22, 2013.

Attorney Discipline—Retaining Lien.

The People challenged the hearing board’s dismissal of a complaint against an attorney who asserted a retaining lien on a U.S. passport. The Supreme Court held that the retaining lien statute does not authorize an attorney to assert a retaining lien on U.S. passports. Accordingly, although the Court will not disturb the hearing board’s order of dismissal, the Court disapproved of its rationale.

Summary and full case available here.

Citizen Lawyer John T. Baker Heads New CAMP Program

BakerJohnOn February 5, 2013, the Colorado State Judicial Branch named John T. Baker the first director of the newly-developed Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP). I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Baker about his new role for CBA-CLE Legal Connection; our conversation is here.

Congratulations on being named director of the new Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program! 

Thank you, it’s really an honor. When I first heard about the program, I thought it sounded like something I would like to do, and I was delighted that they selected me as the first director. I am strongly committed to public service and this is my first time working for the public, so it’s a great opportunity.

How long have you been interested in mentoring? What inspired you to become a mentor?

I was mentored myself as a young lawyer. I had several mentors, including the senior attorneys at the firm where I worked and also including opposing counsel on my civil case at times. I spent 40 years as a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney, and I modeled my practice after the good attorneys on both sides of those cases.

From my mentors, I discovered the importance of learning the ropes—the things you don’t learn in law school, the practical aspects of practicing law. For example, when you go into the courthouse, the judges are very important and nearly every attorney is respectful to the judge. However, the clerks and the rest of the staff are important too, and they should all be treated with respect. Another example: when I receive the first pleading from an opposing counsel I don’t know, I arrange a social meeting—we have a cup of coffee together—so that we can get to know each other as people instead of as adversaries. I am hoping that, through CAMP, I can enable some young lawyers to learn these sorts of practical things also.

What is CAMP?

CAMP is a program that will be housed in the Attorney Regulation System, along with the other judicial department offices of Attorney Registration, Attorney Admission, and Continuing Legal & Judicial Education.  In addition to supporting existing mentoring programs, CAMP will  promote development of new mentoring programs where needed in each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts for young attorneys or attorneys transitioning into private practice. The CAMP office will develop model  curricula for the mentors and mentees, certify  mentor candidates, and oversee the awarding of continuing legal education credits for the mentoring programs. These CAMP programs will be run by bar associations, inns of court, and other legal organizations. CAMP will collaborate where possible with the existing mentoring programs at CU Law and the Sturm COL at DU to avoid duplication of efforts and help provide a continuum of mentoring from law school into practice.

How did CAMP come about?

The CAMP concept has been in development for at least five years. Originally, then-DBA President Mark Fogg and Nancy Cohen, chair of the DBA mentoring committee, crystallized the idea of a state-wide mentoring program. Chief Justice Michael Bender, through his Commission on the Legal Profession, formalized the funding and structure of the statewide CAMP office. During the last two years, the Denver Bar Association, the Minori Yasui Inn of Court, and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office all developed pilot project mentoring programs.

Can you paint a picture of how CAMP will work?

We are still working on the details, but we are planning to develop a curriculum for mentoring that can be utilized by law-related entities in each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts. The bar associations and other legal organizations in the judicial districts will take charge of recruiting mentors and mentees for their own programs, and the CAMP office will evaluate the mentor candidates and make sure they are appropriate role models for new attorneys. The mentors must meet certain criteria—they must have been in practice for at least five years, have a good knowledge base, and have no history of discipline, for example.

The CAMP role is to provide guidance and structure while allowing the organizations in the individual judicial districts to do the mentor-mentee pairing. The individual organizations will do everything except certify the programs and mentors; that will be CAMP’s role. CAMP will also provide support to the individual organizations.

We would like to include materials for the mentors and mentees so that they will complete tasks together and move beyond a purely social relationship. We have been studying the existing mentoring programs—in fact, my first calls as director were to the mentoring programs at the CU and DU law schools—and we would like to see what has worked for the existing programs, what could be improved, and how we can incorporate mentor/mentee activities involving pro bono work, bar association committee involvement, or other community service activities  to act as the “glue” to cement a lasting mentoring relationship.

What are your goals as director of CAMP?

My primary goal is to have a mentoring opportunity available to all new lawyers or lawyers who are transitioning to private practice from public service in each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts. I hope to see these programs develop so that the new lawyers can have someone to talk to and from whom they can learn the things they didn’t learn in law school.

In an article you wrote for the September 2009 issue of The Colorado Lawyer, you discuss the “citizen lawyer” concept. Can you explain that and tell us how it fits into the mentoring program?

Citizen lawyers are lawyers who are active and involved in community service and who use their legal skills to help people in their communities. This could be working on boards of directors for nonprofits, doing pro bono work, or even coaching their kids’ teams. The goal is to let the world see the good in lawyers, see lawyers as the compassionate and caring human beings we are.

When I was a new lawyer, I was encouraged and rewarded for such civic service. Today I think that it’s gotten harder for  lawyers to do this. Law practice is more demanding of the professional now. There is not as much time for new lawyers to  be community-oriented. Despite this I would like to instill the “giving back” part of being a lawyer into the new lawyers because it is often the most satisfying part of practicing law.

How will you further the citizen lawyer concept as CAMP director?

I would like to include a pro bono component, perhaps have the mentor and mentee work together on a community service project, and I would like to encourage the citizen lawyers of the community to become mentors.

How can attorneys become involved in CAMP, either as mentors or as mentees?

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or a mentee can contact the CAMP office, or they can email me directly. Also, the individual judicial districts will publicize their mentoring programs, and it will be publicized by the bar associations and inns of court. We are also working on establishing a web presence—we will soon have our own webpage and blog, and we will also be on social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

John T. Baker is the director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program in the Attorney Regulation System of the Colorado Judicial Department . Prior to that, he served as the Executive Director of NITA, and was an attorney in private practice for 40 years. He is very active in his community and in the Denver and Colorado bar associations, and he received the DBA Award of Merit in 2007 for his outstanding service.

Congratulations to John Gleason, 2013 Recipient of the ABA Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award

GleasonJohn Gleason, former Chief Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, has been selected to be the 2013 recipient of the ABA Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award. The award will be presented at the 39th National Conference on Professional Responsibility on May 30-31, 2013.

The Michael Franck Award is given annually to attorneys whose career commitments in areas such as legal ethics, disciplinary enforcement, and lawyer professionalism demonstrate the best accomplishments of lawyers. It is named in honor of Michael Franck, the former director of the State Bar of Michigan who embraced professional responsibility and worked to improve lawyer regulation in the public interest. He strove to turn intellectual honesty, compassion, and uncompromising ethics to every aspect of the practice of law.

Mr. Gleason is active nationally with the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the National Organization of Judicial Counsel, and the American Bar Association, and he is president of the Board of Directors of the National Client Protection Organization. In early 2013, he accepted a position as the Oregon State Bar’s Director of Regulatory Services, where he is now.

While at the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation, he served as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Judicial Council and Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and adjunct faculty member at Columbia College-Denver. Mr. Gleason received national recognition recently for his work investigating and prosecuting Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas in Arizona. He spoke about his experience for CLE in July 2012 (click here to order the homestudy). He also was interviewed for The Docket about the Arizona case.

James Coyle to Replace John Gleason as Head of Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

On Thursday, February 28, 2013, the Colorado Supreme Court announced that James C. “Jim” Coyle will be the new Chief Regulation Counsel at the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, effective March 1, 2013. He will replace John Gleason, who announced in January his retirement from the Colorado OARC and move to Oregon to become the Oregon State Bar’s Director of Regulatory Services.

Jim Coyle has been with the OARC since 1990, and has been Chief Deputy Regulation Counsel since 2010. For the first 10 years with the Office, he prosecuted lawyers in disciplinary, disability and contempt proceedings; represented the Board of Law Examiners in admissions cases; and represented the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee in investigating and prosecuting injunctive and contempt proceedings against non-lawyers. From 2001 through 2011, Jim supervised the trial division of the office. He has also acted as counsel for the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline. He is a frequent presenter for CBA-CLE on topics related to professional responsibility and practice of law.

Mr. Coyle was selected as one of three finalists for the position of Chief Regulation Counsel from a pool of over 100 applicants. The finalists were nominated by the Supreme Court Advisory Committee, and the Colorado Supreme Court made the final selection.

For the full announcement from the Colorado State Judicial Branch, click here.

John T. Baker Named Director of New Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program

BakerJohnOn Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced that attorney John T. Baker was named the director of the new Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) in the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. The CAMP program is designed to increase training of new lawyers and provide them more support in order to further one of the main goals of the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Legal Profession.

Mr. Baker is currently a sole practitioner in Denver, concentrating his practice on complex litigation and public interest law. Prior to that, he worked at Bragg & Baker, a plaintiff’s personal injury firm, where he specialized in products liability. Mr. Baker is active with the Denver and Colorado bar associations, and he was president of the DBA in 2008-2009. He also teaches frequently on the topics of professionalism and litigation.

As the director of CAMP, Mr. Baker will partner new lawyers in their first three years of practice with experienced attorneys in order to foster pride in the profession, excellence in the courts, and strong relationships between the bench and bar and the public. Mr. Baker will begin as director on February 25, 2013.

John S. Gleason to Receive President’s Award from National Organization of Bar Counsel

GleasonJohn S. Gleason, Chief Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation, will be honored by the National Organization of Bar Counsel in February. He has been selected to receive that organization’s highest honor, the President’s Award, for his adroit dedication to the legal profession and his many years of contributions in the areas of legal ethics, professional responsibility, and disciplinary enforcement.

Mr. Gleason is active locally and nationally with the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the National Organization of Judicial Counsel, the American Bar Association, and the Colorado Bar Association, and he is president of the Board of Directors of the National Client Protection Organization. He also serves as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Judicial Council and Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and adjunct faculty member at Columbia College-Denver.

Mr. Gleason received national recognition recently for his work investigating and prosecuting Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas in Arizona. He spoke about his experience for CLE in July 2012 (click here to order the homestudy). He also was interviewed for The Docket about the Arizona case.

The National Organization of Bar Counsel will bestow the President’s Award on Mr. Gleason on February 6, 2013, at its mid-year meeting in Dallas.

Out of State Attorneys and Ethics – Your Questions Answered

In this age of technology, the importance of physical proximity is diminishing. With an electronic device and a wi-fi connection, a law practice can be operated practically anywhere. An attorney from, say, New York could theoretically remotely operate a New York practice out of Colorado. The question, though, is whether this is ethical.

Another scenario is for an out-of-state attorney to work on Colorado cases pro hac vice. Would the out-of-state attorney need co-counsel in Colorado? What if some ethical violation were committed—where would the grievance be filed? Would the co-counsel face discipline as well?

Finally, is it ethical for an out-of-state attorney to live and practice in Colorado if he or she only does federal work? What happens if that attorney violates ethics rules—is there any recourse?

We asked these questions of Amy DeVan from the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. She, along with colleague James Coyle, will present on these issues at a lunch program on Thursday, December 27, 2012 at noon at the CLE offices. It is a perfect opportunity to get your questions answered while fulfilling ethics requirements.

CLE Program: Blurring the Lines: Cross-Border Practice of Law

This CLE presentation will take place on Tuesday, December 27, 2012, at 12:00 p.m. (noon). Click here to register for the live program, or click here to register for the webcast.

Can’t make the live program? Click here to order the homestudy.