Lawyer Discipline Rules Amended
By Keith A. Call
A couple of months ago (December 18, 2020, to be exact), you probably received an email notice from the Utah Bar letting you know that sixty-nine rules relating to lawyer discipline and disability had been amended. Utah Court of Appeals Judge Diana Hagen and I predicted this – at least to some extent. Last year we reported on an American Bar Association report that recommended several reforms to Utah’s lawyer discipline system. We also reported on the Utah Supreme Court’s formation of a new Oversight Committee for the Office of Professional Conduct and predicted there would be more changes coming. See Diana Hagen and Keith A. Call, Utah Supreme Court Forms OPC Oversight Committee, 32 Utah B.J. 32 (May/June 2019). Those changes are now here.
I know you didn’t read all those amendments – likely because you anticipated I would give you a neat summary of the key changes. You are so smart! Here is the summary you were anticipating.
Disciplinary Rules Streamlined and Consolidated into One Place
Before the 2020 amendments, rules governing disciplinary actions were found in two different chapters of the Utah Code of Judicial Administration. Now the disciplinary rules have been consolidated into a single chapter, making it easier to reference and find what you may be looking for. See Utah Code Jud. Admin. R. 11-501 et. seq.
The amended rules also clarify some confusing concepts from the prior rules. For example, a “Complaint,” formerly referred to as an “Informal Complaint,” refers to any written allegation of lawyer misconduct that is submitted to or initiated by the Office of Professional Conduct (OPC). Id. R. 11-502(g); see also id. R. 11-505. A “Notice,” formerly known as a “Notice of Informal Complaint” or NOIC, is what the OPC sends to the respondent/attorney, which identifies for the lawyer the possible violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Id. R. 14-502(n). A lawsuit filed by the OPC in district court alleging lawyer misconduct, formerly known as a “formal complaint,” is now referred to as an “Action.” Id. R. 11-502(a).
The amendments also made a host of other changes too numerous to fully explain here. Many of them are purely technical or clarifying changes. Some of the more substantive changes address the statute of...