Monday, March 20, 2017
The web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has undergone a redesign that looks to me at first glance to be a notable upgrade.
The new page provides easy access to a number of links of interest to the public.
Bar Counsel Connie Vecchione reports on the highlights of 2016 in Massachusetts discipline and also summarizes related civil decisions and rule changes
Although extensive revisions to the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct went into effect on July 1, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court at that time deferred action on Rule 3.8, the rule detailing prosecutors’ particular obligations. After further review, that rule was also amended, effective April 1, 2016. See “Prosecution Resolution: Amendments to Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.8 on Special Responsibilities of Prosecutors,” on the BBO website. The revisions bring Rule 3.8 current with many of the changes to ABA Model Rule 3.8 since 1998, when the rules of professional conduct were first adopted in Massachusetts, and address additional issues raised by prosecutors, defense counsel, and other members of the bar during the review process. Among other matters of interest, the amended rule includes new comment 3A, addressing the interaction of a prosecutor’s obligations of disclosure under Rule 3.8 with a prosecutor’s disclosure obligations under substantive law.
Two other disciplinary rules were also amended in 2016, Rules 5.4(a)(4) and 5.5. Rule 5.4(a)(4) allows lawyers or law firms to share a statutory or tribunal-approved fee award or settlement with the qualified legal assistance organization that referred the case if the client consents to the fee sharing and the total fee is reasonable. The rule was revised to omit redundant and unnecessarily burdensome clauses. Rule 5.5 was amended to permit lawyers from foreign countries who are in good standing in their home countries to act as in-house counsel to an employer in Massachusetts.
And my longstanding fondest wish for the web page has been granted. It is now possible to search decisions by year rather than having to scroll through the cases looking for the 2017s!
Thank you, Connie! (Mike Frisch)