Update from State Bar Councilor Anna Hamrick

Dear Members of Judicial District 40,

I was honored to represent this judicial district bar at the State Bar Council’s most recent quarterly meeting.  The full synopsis of the quarterly meeting is available here.  The State Bar will send out an email of its own next week, but I wanted to reach out with my personal observations and highlight some important items for you to review in the synopsis and when you receive your copy of the State Bar Journal.

You may notice a new format to these updates.  In an effort to make the councilor reports more consistent across the State, the Bar has developed this template for councilors to use.  I am asking Lisa-Gaye Hall to send it with your Bar Briefs, as opposed to it coming to you as a separate email from me.  I figured we can all use less in our inbox.  Please let me know your thoughts on the new look!

In addition to the synopsis in the above link, here are a few of my thoughts and comments:

Our new President, Marcia Armstrong, has started us off on a great year.  Some of her areas of focus for the year are addressing legal deserts, reviewing the random audit process, and helping with lawyer succession planning.

I am on the following committees for 2023:  Appointments, Communications (chair), Distinguished Service Award, Executive and Grievance.  I look forward to working on these committees and trying to make the Bar work for you.  As I am chair of Communications, I am especially eager to hear if you have any suggestions or thoughts on how the Bar communicates with you.  For example, do you want more updates?  What do you think about the Bar’s website (we are revamping it this year and I would love to hear your thoughts)?  Where can the Bar improve how it communicates with you?  Please let me know – thank you!

On the CLE front, the final rules are not yet done, but it looks like the Bar is moving toward allowing 12 hours of carryover and having us report every two years (instead of the originally proposed term of every three years).

Here are the most recent statistics on some of the Bar activities:  (these may not be of much interest, but I like how it gives you some quantifier of what the Bar spends a lot of its time doing during the year).

During the fourth quarter, ACAP staff responded to 1,649 phone calls from members of the public and placed 69 calls to lawyers. Staff also responded to 886 emails from members of the public and attorneys and responded to 417 letters from inmates. In addition, there were 16 translations completed of fee dispute petitions submitted in Spanish. Intake logged 3,859 entries.

The State Bar opened 128 petitions for fee dispute resolution during the quarter.  In 2018, 1,247 grievance files were opened. In 2019, 1,254 grievance files were opened. In 2020, 927 grievance files were opened. In 2021, 986 grievance files were opened. In 2022, 1,404 grievance files were opened. As of January 13, 57 grievance files have been opened in 2023.  As of January 13, 1,629 grievances were pending. One hundred ninety-six grievances were stayed. Thirty-five pending files were in judicial district grievance committees or had been returned by district grievance committees within the past 30 days. The OOC had made its recommendation in 139 of the pending cases and the cases were ready for the Grievance Committee’s decision. Of the remaining 1,259 files in which no recommendation has yet been made, 272 were more than six months old. In the fourth quarter of 2022, 121 files were dismissed by the Grievance chair or by the Grievance chair and a vice chair.

The realm of Ethics, the Staff Counsel on Ethics responded to 946 ethics inquiries in the last quarter.

The following are on the horizon in new opinions:

  1. Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 1:  The Sale or Closure of a Law Practice and Proper Handling of Aged Client Files.  This proposed opinion clarifies a lawyer’s professional responsibility when closing and/or selling a law practice and when handling aged client files.
  2. Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 2:  Confidentiality Clause that Restricts a Lawyer’s Right to Practice.  This proposed opinion rules that a confidentiality clause contained in a settlement agreement

that restricts a lawyer’s ability to disclose publicly available information violates Rule 5.6.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions about the State Bar Council or anything else of which I can be of assistance.  Thank you.

Sincerely yours, Anna Hamrick