In the offing are proposed rules that could affect law practice. Comments by March 27.

In the offing are proposed rules that could affect law practice. Comments due by March 27.

Today I’m happy to share news from my State Bar colleague Patricia Sallen. She is a Bar’s Assistant Executive Director and our resident Ethical Rule guru (I’m guessing she has a different title than guru). But she writes to alert attorneys to proposed changes that are percolating and that may be adopted, changes that could have broad effects on law practice.

The proposals come out of a Supreme Court-created “Committee on the Review of Supreme Court Rules Governing Professional Conduct and the Practice of Law.” That committee has filed a rule-change petition, R-15-0018. In her article, Pat explains in broad strokes eight areas of possible change.

You can read Pat’s excellent summary here.

Probably most important and timely:

“The State Bar will be circulating the rule-change petition to collect input from its stakeholders such as committees, sections and other interested organizations. If you as an individual lawyer wish to provide input to the State Bar (apart from those committees, sections and other interested organizations), please email your comments to rules@azbar.org by March 27, 2015.”

For more background, read the committee’s report here and read the rule-change petition here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_Seal

[Note: This post was updated on March 2, 2015, to add the name of the Chair of the Business Court Advisory Committee, David Rosenbaum. I mean, I forgot the Chair! I’m sorry for the omission.]

A pilot program that creates a new superior court venue for commercial disputes was established by the Arizona Supreme Court this month. The three-year program will launch in July and function in Maricopa County.

The program’s details are set out in Administrative Order 2015-15, issued on February 18, and it followed on the work of a Business Court Advisory Committee, created by the Supreme Court in May 2014. This Administrative Order also adopts new Rule of Civil Procedure 8.1 and two new forms that practitioners and the court would use (included as an attachment to the order).

The three judges named to the new program for the pilot period are Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten.

Rules 8.1(b), (c) and (d), included in the order (which you can read here), set out the case types that could be (and could not be) handled by the new venue.

Not to be lost amid the new development is the hard work and creativity of the original Court-created committee. You can read all their names and affiliations in Appendix A to A.O. 2014-48. But just to make it easier for you, congratulations and thanks to (alphabetically): Chair David Rosenbaum, Michael Arkfeld, Ray Billotte, Judge Kyle Bryson, Andrew Federhar, Glenn Hamer, Bill Klain, Mark Larson, Lisa Loo, Judge Scott Rash (appointed in A.O. 2014-58), Judge John Rea, Trish Refo, Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Mark Rogers, Nicole Stanton, Steve Tully, Steven Weinberger and Judge Christopher Whitten (appointed in A.O. 2014-58).

And here is a release from the Court:

“Civil commercial disputes may soon be handled in a new venue thanks to an Administrative Order by the Arizona Supreme Court that was signed this week. In May 2014, the Supreme Court established an 18-member advisory committee to study the feasibility of establishing a special venue within the Superior Courts to address the unique needs of businesses engaged in commercial civil litigation. The Superior Court in Maricopa County is in the process of launching a three-year pilot Commercial Court program.”

“‘This court recognizes that disputes between companies or involving the internal governance of businesses often raise issues that require specialized knowledge and that implicate potentially expensive discovery. By appointing experienced judges and establishing processes shaped for commercial civil litigation, we hope to show that these disputes can be resolved more efficiently and economically,’ Chief Justice Scott Bales explained.”

“The advisory committee cited several reasons that a Commercial Court would be beneficial to Arizona, including:

  • To make Arizona a more favorable forum for resolving business disputes;
  • To improve the business community’s access to justice;
  • To expeditiously resolve business cases and reduce litigation costs;
  • To improve the quality of justice; and
  • To gain the business community’s support for the State of Arizona’s dispute resolution system.”

“The pilot program is slated to begin July 1, 2015, giving the Superior Court in Maricopa County time to re-assign workload as necessary and implement other administrative steps in advance of taking on its first docket of cases.”

“The establishment of a Commercial Court is budget neutral and will be achieved through the use of existing judges and resources that are currently in place at the trial court level. Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten are the three judges who will hear Commercial Court cases.”

“Once a case is assigned to Commercial Court, there will be a mandatory early scheduling conference to help address discovery issues and adopt an effective and efficient schedule for progress of the case.”

AZTurboCourt e-filing logoToday I share the following item from the Arizona Supreme Court about their next step in making Arizona an e-filing state. As they say, the automated case system launched on Tuesday in Pima County.

The next generation of court automation has arrived in the Superior Court in Pima County. AZTurboCourt is available for civil case initiation and civil subsequent filing in the Pima County Superior Court beginning February 17, 2015. Opening a civil case and submitting additional materials related to the case used to require a visit to the Clerk of the Superior Court. In-person trips to the Clerk to file a Pima County civil case will be a thing of the past with the launch of AZTurboCourt.

Law offices will need to establish an account in AZTurboCourt before making their first filing. Please be aware that it may take three to four days to set up your payment account. For information on how to register and set up a payment account please go here and click on the “Training Manuals” or “Tutorial Videos” link.

Live and online training classes will be available starting February 9. The training sessions will include step-by-step instructions on launching an account, e-filing a case, attaching documents, and other tips to ensure that an electronic submission is not delayed due to errors.

A training manual and self-paced training videos are available on our website here. There are several differences between the Maricopa County application and the Pima County application, so training is highly encouraged. To sign up for an in-person or WebEx training class, please visit here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealToday, I share some news from the Arizona Supreme Court on a topic that should catch lawyers’ attention: possible changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Here’s the Court:

A process that began six months ago has resulted in the submission of a petition to amend several Supreme Court Rules governing the practice of law in Arizona. The proposed changes are posted online for public comment.

In June 2014, the Supreme Court established the 13-member Committee on the Review of Supreme Court Rules Governing Professional Conduct and the Practice of Law, which was chaired by Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer. The proposed changes are the result of a series of public meetings, which included input from a variety of stakeholder groups and the State Bar of Arizona.

Changes in the practice of law, the emergence of global law firms, the evolution of technology and other factors affecting the modernized law office led the Committee to recommend rule changes. In some cases, the rules petition adds clarifying language while maintaining the text and intent of the rules.

Some of the recommendations include rules:

  • Allowing flexibility for new forms of legal teams, for example, allowing teams of lawyers from different firms to share responsibility and fees, while still ensuring adequate protections for the public;
  • Proposing language governing the admission of lawyers who relocate to Arizona due to a military spouse’s service commitment;
  • Providing guidance on safeguarding the storage, transmission, and security of client data in the modern digital law practice.

The Committee also submitted a report to the Supreme Court describing proposals the Committee had considered but rejected. For example, the Committee recommended that the Court not admit on motion lawyers from jurisdictions that do not have reciprocal admission rules for Arizona lawyers.

To view or comment on the proposed rule changes, go to the Arizona Supreme Court Rules Forum here. Comments are due on or before May 20, 2015. The earliest that the Supreme Court could take action on the proposed changes is August 2015.

University of Arizona Law School

The University of Arizona Law School will be the location of Arizona Supreme Court oral arguments on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.

Two fascinating issues will be addressed Thursday, November 6, when the Arizona Supreme Court holds oral arguments during a visit to Tucson. The arguments will occur at the UA James E. Rogers College of Law (1201 E. Speedway Blvd., Ares Auditorium, Room 164), from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

The Court will hear appellate arguments in two cases (I have stated below the issue for each; for a fuller treatment, click on the cases):

Issue: Do individual legislators have standing to challenge a law simply by alleging that a supermajority was required for its passage?

Issue: Is a criminal defendant precluded from raising an ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a successive post-conviction relief proceeding when, without fault of his own, his prior two court-appointed attorneys failed to file a petition in the two prior post-conviction relief proceedings?

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe travel to Tucson is part of the Court’s statewide public education effort.

As the law school reports:

“This judicial visit is hosted by the William H. Rehnquist Center for the Constitutional Structures of Government at the James E. Rogers College of Law.”

Seating is limited and available to those who have preregistered here.

“Others are welcome on a first-come, first-serve basis as remaining space allows.”

AZ Supreme Court logoAccess to justice saw another positive step in Arizona this month, as Chef Justice Bales named the membership of the newly formed commission charged with examining the issue.

The creation of the Commission and the Chief Justice’s views on it were covered by me here. You also should read the Court’s new strategic agenda here. (And the August 20 Administrative Order is here.)

Here is the Court’s announcement of the new members. As mentioned before, the group will be led by its chair appellate court Judge Larry Winthrop.

“Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales announces the formation of the 18-member Commission on Access to Justice. The Commission will be chaired by Lawrence F. Winthrop, Judge on Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals and former president of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.”

“‘Promoting Access to Justice’ is the first of five goals outlined in Advancing Justice Together: Courts and Communities, the new five-year strategic agenda for Arizona’s judiciary. In the Pledge of Allegiance, Chief Justice Bales noted, we commit ourselves to the goal of justice for all. The new Commission will be charged with identifying specific strategies to help us better realize this goal as our State’s population and technology change.”

“‘This is not a study commission; it’s a commission that will actively develop innovative ideas that remove barriers to justice,’ Chief Justice Scott Bales said.”

An Administrative Order issued on August 20 outlines initial priorities for the Commission:

  • Assisting self-represented litigants and revising court rules and practices to facilitate access and the fair processing of family court and eviction cases.
  • Encouraging lawyers and law firms to provide pro bono services or financial support for civil legal aid for those who cannot afford counsel.
  • Informing lawyers and other citizens about the availability of a state income tax credit for contributions to agencies that serve the working poor, including legal services agencies in Arizona.

In many family and justice court cases, one or more of the parties does not have a lawyer.  Self-representation presents a tremendous challenge not only to those litigants, but also to judges and other court personnel.

“Our courts and judges are doing the best they can under the circumstances, but the question is whether we can do a better job of helping people who choose to represent themselves in court, or for those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer,” Judge Winthrop said. “Our state has made great strides in this area over the last several years, but there remain some critical needs, such as helping people understand the process and navigate the court system. We also should do what we can to boost financial resources for legal service organizations who assist those most in need.”

Access to justice can be golden: Arizona Attorney Magazine opening image for a story on the topic by former State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer, Oct. 2012.Judge Winthrop also hopes that the Commission can further engage the business community concerning these issues.

“We want business and government leaders to understand that meaningful access to justice is a workplace and productivity issue. Most of the self-represented litigants in family court and housing cases are, in fact, part of some company’s work force. The whole enterprise suffers if your employee or co-worker is out of the office because they’re in family court or are dealing with housing issues,” Judge Winthrop explained. “If we can help people effectively resolve their court matters and in less time, that’s a ‘win-win’ for both the employee and the employer.”

Judge Winthrop said that people with legal issues are sometimes overwhelmed, and often don’t know where to go for legal help. Raising awareness of civil legal service options and encouraging greater community involvement will be a goal of the Commission. Taking advantage of advances in technology, retooling existing court-based legal self-help centers and the idea of expanding such services into a public library or community college setting will be possible approaches considered by the Commission.

Members of the Commission on Access to Justice include:

Chair

Lawrence F. Winthrop, Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I

Michael Jeanes, Superior Court Clerk

Mike Baumstark, Administrative Director of the Courts or designee

Kip Anderson, Court Administrator

Kevin Ruegg, Executive Director, Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education          

Maria Elena Cruz, Superior Court Judge

John Phelps, Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona or designee

Janet Barton, Superior Court Judge

Ellen Katz, Legal Aid Services, Maricopa

James Marner, Superior Court Judge

Anthony Young, Legal Aid Services, Southern Arizona

Thomas Berning, Limited Jurisdiction Court Judge

Steve Seleznow, Public Member

Rachel Torres Carrillo, Limited Jurisdiction Court Judge

Lisa Urias, Public Member

Barb Dawson, Attorney

Millie Cisneros, Attorney

Janet Regner, Arizona Judicial Council Liaison

Canadian Bar Association CBA 2014 report titled Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in CanadaThis morning, if my plans don’t go awry, I’ll be attending the kickoff meeting of the new Arizona Supreme Court task force that will assess the management and governance of the State Bar of Arizona. I’ll report back on how it goes and what comes next.

Until then, you may want to skim some material about proposed changes to the Canadian legal system. True, the northerly report, if adopted, would make significant changes far beyond one bar association. But I was impressed by the Canadian task force’s willingness to look at all elements of the legal profession with a new eye.

I’m suspecting that the Arizona Supreme Court seeks a similarly clear-eyed look.

The entire report, titled “Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada,” is here.

Jordan Furlong

Jordan Furlong

And I agree: 106 pages is tough sledding on a Friday. But that’s why you should start with a Jordan Furlong column.

I have mentioned Jordan Furlong before (here and here). And I think his name is well associated with any assessment of what the future of law holds.

His concise and point-by-point analysis deconstructs the Canadian Bar Association report, which he admits he likes quite a bit. And, I’m pretty sure, his column and the related report are solid guideposts for what we may see coming to these United States in the not-so-distant future.

Here is Jordan’s post.

Have a wonderful—and transformative—weekend.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,810 other followers