When attorney-client relationship ends is goal of proposed change considered by Supreme Court

Defining exactly when an attorney’s representation of a client ends was the object of a proposed rule change on the Michigan Supreme Court’s public administrative conference agenda Nov. 17.

The proposal (ADM File No. 2007-18) would amend Michigan Court Rule 2.117(C), “Duration of Appearance by Attorney.” The current rule states that an attorney’s appearance on a client’s behalf continues “until a final judgment is entered disposing of all claims by or against the party whom the attorney represents and the time for appeal of right has passed.”

The proposed amendment would make an exception where the attorney discontinued the relationship with the client before entry of final judgment or expiration of the time to appeal. The proposal would also provide that follow-up or ministerial actions, such as returning documents to a client, do not extend the attorney-client relationship.

The Court is considering whether to publish the proposal for comment.

Also before the Court was a proposed amendment to MCR 8.120 (ADM File No. 2008-42) regarding provision of legal services by law students and recent law school graduates who are not yet admitted to practice. The Court issued an amendment on Nov. 16 to the court rule that allows law students and recent law graduates, under the supervision of a licensed attorney and with the explicit approval of the Court of Appeals panel, to appear on behalf of clients before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The Court will consider whether defendants in criminal cases should be required to acknowledge on the record that they are receiving legal representation from a law student.
Also on the Court’s conference agenda:

• ADM File No. 2010-08. The Court will consider whether to adopt proposed updates to caseflow management guidelines for state trial courts.

• ADM File No. 2005-11. At issue is whether the Court should publish for comment amendments to the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct that would clarify the circumstances under which a judge could participate in fundraising activities.

• ADM File No. 2007-14. The Court will consider whether to publish for comment a proposed amendment of MCR 2.118, which governs amended and supplemental court pleadings. The proposed amendment would revise the rule to allow substitution of parties.

• ADM File No. 2008-10. At issue is whether the Court should publish for comment a proposed amendment of MCR 6.425(D)(1) that would reinstate the requirement that a judge state in writing reasons for departing from the sentencing guidelines. The Court will also consider whether to publish a proposed amendment of MCR 7.210 that would require the trial court to prepare and include a sentencing guideline departure form in the record on appeal.

• ADM File No. 2008-11. The Court is considering whether to publish for comment a proposed amendment of MCR 2.507(G) that would clarify that agreements between parties or their attorneys must be in writing or made on the record to be binding.

• ADM File No. 2008-18. At issue is whether the Court should amend MCR 3.501(B) which governs the procedure for certifying a class action, to create an explicit requirement that a change in circumstances must have occurred to allow a party to file a supplemental motion for certification of a class, and the motion must be filed within 21 days of the party’s knowledge of the changed circumstances.

• ADM File No. 2008-27. The Court is considering whether to amend MCR 8.121(C) (1), which governs computation of attorneys’ contingent fees in wrongful death and personal injury cases, to define the phrase “all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim or prosecution of the action.” Also at issue is whether the Court should revise MCR 2.420, “Settlements and Judgments for Minors and Legally Incapacitated Individuals,” to clarify issues regarding the circuit court’s approval of attorney fees.

• ADM File No. 2008-32. At issue is whether the Court should revise MCR 2.203, “Joinder of Claims, Counter-Claims, and Cross-Claims,” to require a court clerk to issue a summons when counterclaims or cross-claims are filed and to establish an expiration date identical to the expiration date of summonses issued when a third party is added to an existing case.

• ADM File No. 2010-30. The Court will consider whether to publish for comment proposed amendments of MCR 2.403, 2.411, and 3.216 and proposed new MCR 2.412 to consolidate confidentiality provisions for mediations of civil and domestic relations cases.

Public administrative conferences agendas may be viewed online at http:// www.courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/Resources/Administrative/AdminConf.htm.

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