Before January slips away, I must remind Arizona lawyers about an important article featured in the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. It involves rules of practice that you really want to get right.

The article, titled “Fees and Client-Trust Accounts: Rule Changes for 2012,” was written by Patricia Sallen, the Ethics Counsel for the State Bar of Arizona. In the piece, Pat gets directly to the point and informs lawyers exactly what they need to know about changes to:

  • ER 1.5(b), regarding written fee agreements
  • Rule 43, regarding client-trust accounts

Her entire article is online and is worth bookmarking.

Want to be drawn in a little more? Here is Pat’s article opening:

“Charging fees properly. Keeping client property safe. Managing client-trust accounts to the penny.

“Did your palms get sweaty as you read those words?

“For lawyers, those issues are always sources of concern (Am I charging fees ethically?) and anxiety (Am I managing my client-trust account properly?). In 2010, they comprised the fifth most commonly alleged misconduct against lawyers and are typically among the top 10 subjects of calls to the State Bar’s ethics hotline.

“You also may be among the lawyers who in summer 2009 received word they might have to move—on short notice—their client-trust accounts to a different financial institution. You ultimately didn’t have to … but talk about sweat that wasn’t related to summer heat.

“As a result of petitions filed by the State Bar—in part to try to reduce the sweat-inducing factors—the Arizona Supreme Court has amended and clarified rules related to fees and client-trust accounts. The changes take effect in 2012.”

Keep reading here.