Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Lawyers who invest money for clients soon will be under tighter scrutiny and held to stricter standards through rules the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted Tuesday.
“The integrity of our legal system depends a great deal on the professionalism and accountability of attorneys,”WhastApp for PC Download Chief Justice Ronald Castille said in a statement the court released.
Castille said the rules “serve as a reminder that attorneys are obligated to live up to the trust people put in them by working diligently and honestly, or face serious consequences.”
The rules, which take effect in 60 days, raise the level of responsibility when attorneys invest client funds. According to the court, the changes were prompted by high-profile incidents across the state, including cases in which clients lost millions of dollars invested by their attorneys. The court did not provide examples.
The rule changes include a Rule of Professional Conduct addition that requires lawyers to be licensed before brokering, selling or offering to place an investment for a client. Such transactions are prohibited if an attorney has any disqualifying financial interests.
Financial records will be more accessible to attorney disciplinary bodies that examine alleged misappropriation of trust accounts, and investigative procedures will be streamlined.
The amended rules are intended to lead to prompt disengagement from legal practice by lawyers who are suspended or disbarred for stealing or mishandling money.
A working group of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court helped create the rules, the court said.
Rules exist for the suspension or disbarment of attorneys who misappropriate client funds. But many clients do not fully recover their losses, the court noted. Victims can file claims through the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security for reimbursable losses from dishonest attorneys. Payouts are capped at $100,000.
Pennsylvania has more than 65,000 licensed attorneys. Fewer than 1 percent are involved in misconduct investment claims, the court said.
Jason Cato is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/7470003-74/court-attorneys-rules#ixzz3NOr0LHUu
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