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Rule Changes & Updates

2010

Attorneys Must Now Disclose Criminal Activity 20 Days Following A Conviction

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has amended a rule (Rule 214), requiring attorneys to disclose if they have been convicted of a crime sooner than the original guidelines determined.

Disciplinary Board of Pennsylvania Makes it Easy for the Public to Know if Lawyers Have Professional Liability Insurance

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – By visiting the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Web site, the public can now easily determine whether an attorney has professional liability insurance or not. While lawyers are not required to have this type of insurance, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently ordered that lawyers must disclose on their annual fee form whether or not they are insured. In addition, lawyers in private practice are required to notify clients if they do not have professional liability insurance.

Disciplinary Board Proposes Change in Mental Disability Defense Rule

The Disciplinary Board is publishing changes to Rule 301(e) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, which deals with attorneys who assert mental disability defenses in disciplinary hearings.

Disciplinary Board Of Pennsylvania Now Requires Professional Liability Insurance On Annual Fee Form

(Harrisburg, Pa.) – Every attorney admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar is required to complete an annual fee form and pay the appropriate fee to the Attorney Registration Office at the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. However, this year’s annual fee form, due by July 1st, has a new requirement.

2009

New Procedures for Attorneys Acquiring Inactive or Retired Status

In an attempt to streamline the process and expedite reinstatement, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently adopted a series of changes regarding the procedure for attorneys wishing to become inactive.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopts New rules governing inactive attorneys

HARRISBURG, April 16, 2009 — The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania today adopted a series of changes regarding the fees, reinstatement and categorization of the Commonwealth’s nearly 27,000 inactive attorneys.

2007

New Rules Establish More Standardized And Efficient Procedures For Out-Of-State Lawyers

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has created a uniform process for eligible out-of-state lawyers to apply for permission to participate in a particular case in the Commonwealth.

Public Hearings Access/Confidentiality Policy Clarified

On May 23, 2007, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order amending Rule 402 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, concerning access to disciplinary information and confidentiality, to clarify the circumstances under which disciplinary proceedings will be confidential.

Pennsylvania Lobbying Disclosure Law

Lawyers who engage in legislative advocacy should be aware of the passage of the Pennsylvania Lobbying Disclosure Law, P.L. 2006-134 (November 1, 2006, effective January 1, 2007), 65 Pa.C.S. §13A01 et seq.

PBA Issues Ethics Opinion on File Management

The Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the Pennsylvania Bar Association has issued Formal Opinion 2007-100 regarding “Client Files – Rights of Access, Possession, and Copying, along with Retention Considerations.”

Rules for Former Attorney Employment Clarified

On December 11, 2006, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted an amendment to Rule 217(j) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement. Previously, this section had defined the limits of activities which a formerly admitted attorney (disbarred, suspended, or on inactive status) could perform while "employed" by a law office.

2006

New Liability Insurance Disclosure Rule Exceeds ABA Standards

(Lemoyne, Pa.) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board announces an amendment to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys requiring lawyers to inform new clients in writing if the lawyer does not have professional liability insurance.

Supreme Court Adopts Revocation as New Form of Discipline

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has amended the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules and the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement to provide for a new form of discipline, revocation of a law license. Revocation would be a penalty imposed upon those who deliberately make false statements or withhold material information in the process of application for admission to the bar.

Supreme Court Requires Disclosure of Lack of Malpractice Coverage

On December 30, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted new Rule 1.4(c) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, regarding communication with clients, which requires lawyers who do not have professional liability insurance coverage to disclose this fact to clients in writing.

Disciplinary Board Implements Open System Rules

On Saturday, February 25, 2006, the Disciplinary Board published amendments to the Rules of the Disciplinary Board to implement the Open System initiative adopted by changes to the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement announced on October 26, 2005.

Board Limits Time for Subpoena Challenges

The Disciplinary Board has amended Section 91.3(b) of the Rules of the Disciplinary Board regarding challenges to subpoenas. The new rule requires that all motions challenging subpoenas must be filed within ten (10) days after service of the subpoena.

2005

New IOLTA Rules Announced

On November 21, 2005, the Supreme Court adopted an extensive set of revisions to the rules of the Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The changes take into account several developments including the revision of Rule 1.15 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement and recent Supreme Court rulings.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Adopts Rule Change Recommended By The Disciplinary Board

(Camp Hill, Pa.) - Marvin J. Rudnitsky, Chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a 16-member agency created by the Supreme Court with oversight and investigative power to review the conduct of Pennsylvania lawyers, announced today that the Supreme Court has approved the Board's proposed amendments to the established process of disciplinary proceedings.

Supreme Court Opens Disciplinary System to Public View

On October 26, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted an order in which it changed a confidentiality policy that has been in effect since the founding of the Disciplinary Board thirty-three years ago, and ordered that disciplinary proceedings will become public matters, once a proceeding is initiated by a Petition for Discipline and the respondent-attorney has had an opportunity to answer the charges. This proposal was originally published by the Disciplinary Board in June 2004.

Supreme Court Approves Discipline By Consent Rule Changes

On May 24, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted changes to Rule 215 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement which allow the entry of discipline by consent, bypassing the hearing process.

Supreme Court Amends Code of Civility

By order dated April 21, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted changes to the Code of Civility, which is published at 204 Pa.Code Chapter 99.

Supreme Court Adopts Amendments to Rule on Property Handling

On April 5, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania put in place the last major piece of its complete overhaul of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, adopting changes to Rule 1.15 of the RPC, and also amendments to Rule 221 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, creating new standards of conduct governing the handling of property of others by lawyers.

Supreme Court Adopts Foreign Legal Consultants Rule, Changes to Rules Involving Limited Licenses

On March 17, 2005, the Supreme Court adopted a number of changes to the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules and the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement related to limited licenses to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Lawyer-Lobbyists Permitted to Make Required Disclosures

In an order dated January 6, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved the addition of a comment to Rule 1.6 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.

Supreme Court Adopts New Rule on Prospective Clients

On January 6, 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted a new Rule 1.18 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, dealing with prospective clients.

Ethics 2000 Changes to Rules of Professional Conduct Take Effect

On August 23, 2004, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania entered an order adopting the most sweeping set of changes to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct since the adoption of that ethical code in April 1988. As of January 1, 2005, these changes are now in effect and apply to all legal matters currently in progress.

2004

Supreme Court Adopts Changes to Subpoenas Rule

On November 22, 2004, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved changes to Rule 213 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, making new provisions for Supreme Court review of determinations on the validity of subpoenas issued in disciplinary matters.

New Rule Sets Timeline for Settlement Delivery

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has adopted a new Rule 229.1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires that defendants released of liability in settlement agreements must deliver any settlement funds due to the plaintiff within twenty (20) days of receipt of an executed release.

Supreme Court Sets New Standards for Counsel in Capital Criminal Cases

On June 4, 2004, the Supreme Court adopted a new rule setting standards for experience and continuing legal education required of all criminal defense counsel representing defendants in proceedings involving possible capital punishment.

Supreme Court Creates Limited Military Law License

Continuing a trend toward recognizing limited law licenses for specific purposes in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has adopted a new Rule 303 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules, creating a limited admission for military attorneys.

Supreme Court Adopts Multijurisdictional Practice Amendment

By order dated April 30, 2004, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted amendments to Rule 5.5 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, dealing with practice in Pennsylvania by lawyers not admitted in Pennsylvania, but admitted to practice in another jurisdiction of the United States or a foreign jurisdiction.

Supreme Court Approves Adoption of Limited In-House Corporate Counsel License

By order dated March 30, 2004, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has adopted a new Rule 302 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules, which allow attorneys not admitted to the bar of Pennsylvania to obtain a Limited In-house Corporate Counsel License to work for corporations in Pennsylvania.

“Foreign Legal Consultant” Status Proposed in Rule Amendments by Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and Disciplinary Board

The Disciplinary Board and the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners (PBLE) have jointly proposed amendments to their respective governing rules which would allow individuals licensed to practice law in foreign countries to perform limited services in Pennsylvania as “foreign legal consultants,” providing information and advice on the law of the countries in which they are licensed.

Disciplinary Board Publishes Proposed Rule 1.15 Amendments

The Disciplinary Board has published for comment a set of major revisions to Rule 1.15 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, which governs the handling of property of others, including money, by Pennsylvania lawyers. The proposal was published in the Legal Intelligencer on Monday, March 29, 2004, and will appear in the Pennsylvania Bulletin imminently.

2003

Supreme Court Extends Lobby Law Coverage to Lawyer-Lobbyists

Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ralph J. Cappy today announced the implementation of a new Supreme Court rule regarding lawyers who act as lobbyists. The new rule amends the Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct, the Court’s stringent standards that guide a lawyer’s professional and ethical conduct.

Lawyer Trust Accounts Board Puts Out Access to Justice Act Regulations