Daily Briefs

ABA issues guidance for ‘safekeeping’ payments between non-firm lawyers

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has issued Formal Opinion 475 that details how a lawyer who receives a payment that should be shared with a non-firm lawyer colleague should handle and distribute the money.

Model Rule 1.5(e) allows lawyers who are not in the same firm to divide a fee under certain circumstances. The new formal opinion cites additional model rules related to “Safekeeping Property” in spelling out that the receiving lawyer must deposit the funds in an account (typically a trust account) separate from the lawyer’s own property. 

“When one lawyer receives an earned fee that is subject to such an arrangement and both lawyers have an interest in that earned fee, Model Rules 1.15(a) and 1.15(d) require that the receiving lawyer hold the funds in an account separate from the lawyer’s own property, appropriately safeguard the funds, promptly notify the other lawyer who holds an interest in the fee of receipt of the funds, promptly deliver to the other lawyer the agreed upon portion of the fee, and, if requested by the other lawyer, provide a full accounting,” Formal Opinion 475 said.

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility periodically issues ethics opinions to advise lawyers, courts and the public in interpreting and applying ABA model ethics rules to specific issues of legal practice, client-lawyer relationships and judicial behavior.

Formal Opinion 475 and previous ABA ethics opinions are available on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility website.


36th District Court announces exclusive seasonal layaway  plan and waiver of fees

The 36th District Court announced this week an exclusive holiday promotion being offered for the entire month of December. Individuals who have outstanding debt owed to the court will have the opportunity to “lay it away” and enter into a payment plan with only 10 percent down of their balance due. All adjudicated cases in which fines and costs were assessed are eligible. As an added bonus, upon making the final payment, all late fees and penalties will be waived.

Chief Judge Nancy Blount stated, “We are excited to offer this chance for individuals to get back on track and eventually restore their driving privileges, whether they have defaulted on a previous payment plan or want to start a new plan. Plus, the waiver of all penalties and late fees upon final payment should be a big incentive to comply with their new or reinstated agreement.”

Court Administrator, Kelli Moore Owen added, “We wanted to do something unique this holiday season and this is a way for people to start fresh with payments that fit their budget before additional collection enforcement actions, slated for January 2017, are initiated.”

Current payment plan customers are excluded and ineligible to participate. Clearance fees cannot be waived.

Please visit the Court’s website for additional details at http://www.36thdistrictcourt.org/.