Lawyers in Transition: Time to Think About What’s Next?

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Tom Lenfestey, Managing Member of The Law Practice Exchange, LLC.  What I found out from Tom is that he and his staff offer a much needed service to lawyers, law firms, and other professionals throughout the state of North Carolina.

Ever wondered about retirement? Could you sustain the value in your firm and provide ethical representation of clients if you simply wanted to work a bit less and play a bit more?  Could you make money from selling your firm or a portion of it? Could you transition to a truly virtual practice? Is there some way to structure a transition so you continue in a mentoring or counseling role, with your practice generating income into your retirement years?  As I began talking to Tom, who is an attorney and a CPA, I came to realize that there were more ways to structure a transition, and more kinds of transitions for that matter, than I had ever known or even thought about before.

Tom’s legal practice has traditionally focused on creating, advising and implementing strategic business and estate plans for his clients. Tom came to recognize the lack of knowledge, attention and options that were provided in the legal profession to attorneys for their own practices, specifically in the realm of succession planning and other transition or exit opportunities.

Tom’s driving principles are as follows:

As a result and a belief in the need to increase understanding and promoting options for lawyers looking for exit or growth options through the transition market, Tom formed The Law Practice Exchange. The Law Practice Exchange aims to curb this lack of knowledge in the profession by educating and advising attorneys on the number of different options available in the legal marketplace and also serving as a confidential advisor to seek and provide connections for those right opportunities between an exiting attorney and a growth-focused attorney or firm.

 The Law Practice Exchange provides value-focused options to:

  • Preserve client goodwill
  • Provide value-based exit strategies
  • Promote mentorship between senior and junior attorneys
  • Provide alternative growth options for law practices
  • Ensure continuous service to legal clients
  • Prepare practices for change and transition
  • Consult and advise on additional practice strategies for attorneys

Tom offers much more than just brokerage services or legal match-making services.  He also helps lawyers find and enhance the value in their firms as they journey through transition.  Some of the strategies he employs would be beneficial in any practice, even if you are not looking to transition immediately. His services are confidential and he’s an accredited business intermediary.

So, what’s your next step?

For more information:

The Law Practice Exchange, LLC
(919) 789-1931

*No remuneration was received for writing this blog or recommending Tom’s services.
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Can You Call Yourself “an Expert”?

Every so often, I get the question, can an attorney hold himself or herself out as an “expert” in an area of practice or as having “expertise” in a particular area? Most attorneys know that they can’t hold themselves out as “specialists” or as “specializing” in a practice area unless they are certified as a specialist by the North Carolina State Bar or another organization accredited by the State Bar or the ABA.  See Rule 7.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  While there is no rule specifically prohibiting use of the word “expert” in advertising, the statement cannot be misleading under Rule 7.1.  Several factors determine whether using the term “expert” could be misleading.

State Bar ethics staff counsel has opined that whether the term “expert” is misleading under Rule 7.1 will depend upon whether it can be factually substantiated as a claim by a lawyer.  While years of experience are relevant, simply practicing in an area of the law for a number of years is not sufficient to substantiate a claim of expertise.  According to State Bar staff counsel, the lawyer must be able to demonstrate that he/she is knowledgeable and proficient in the most difficult of cases in the practice area.

Frankly, I am not entirely certain of exactly how you would make a sufficient showing of your knowledge and proficiency in your field of practice, but here are some suggestions:

  • In addition to your many years of practice, you may be a person who has taught CLE courses or written articles for publications on the subject.
  • You may also have colleagues who could attest to your proficiency in the field of practice and to the difficulty of cases you’ve handled.
  • You may have actually served as an expert witness in a particular related field.
  • Perhaps you have taught courses at your local law school.
  • You may have served as a mentor to younger lawyers in the field.
  • Perhaps you hold a position as an advisory member on a Board or leadership positions in related Bar organizations.

Bottom line: before you use the term “expert” in your legal advertisements, be sure you have an idea of how you could prove your expertise.  You may be called upon to do so someday.

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Am I Required to Self Report?

We get this question a lot.  Do I have a duty to self report this conduct to the Bar?  Unless we’re talking about the trust account, which we’ve discussed in other blogs, there is generally no self-reporting duty in the Rules of Professional Conduct.  If you goof, make a bone-headed decision, briefly lose your mind, or aliens have taken over your body, and you have done something that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct, you need not report it to the State Bar.  That is, it is not a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct NOT to report it.  Whether you should report it, notwithstanding that there’s not duty to do so, is a topic for another day.

Trust accounts are a different animal.  If you inadvertently misapply funds, over-disburse, or disburse in error, and you (1) discover the error promptly, (2) rectify it, and (3) document it in your files, then there is no duty to self report to the State Bar.  The failure to promptly discover the error or rectify it within a calendar quarter from when the error was made, could trigger the new reporting requirement in Rule 1.15-2. (See earlier blog).  But for errors that are discovered and correctly quickly, the State Bar has enough to do without fielding calls or reviewing correspondence about every mistake made in attorney trust accounts. If you do make a mistake in the trust account, let it be a wake up call to double down and make sure you have in place measures to help ensure that such mistakes do not happen in the future.

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Are You Encrypting?

Do you send e-mail or other electronic messages that contain or attach sensitive data or information of a client, patient or other third party, such as:

  • Any type of health or medical records?
  • Bank records, account numbers or other financial information?
  • Tax returns or tax-related information?
  • Intellectual property or trade secrets?
  • Securities related documents or other investment information?
  • Social Security numbers, passwords, PINS or other personal identification information?

For most professionals, the answer to the above questions is yes, and on a fairly regular basis.  If you are one of those professionals, are you taking reasonably adequate measures to protect against disclosure of such data or information? Do those measures include sending such information electronically through some type of encryption?  If not, it’s time to look into utilizing some sort of encryption technology when sending messages or documentation containing sensitive information.

Recent changes to various laws have increased the potential civil and even criminal exposure of various professionals for disclosure of such information.  These changes include among others, updates to HIPPA regulations, RESPA, and creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Even without the new and existing legal requirements, failure to safeguard sensitive information of others can lead to a lack of confidence, trust or loss of business from clients, patients, customers and vendors. This is true even if the disclosure or breach was unintentional, inadvertent or caused by the intentional illegal acts of others.

Fortunately, there now are relatively simple technologies available that make it easy to send encrypted messages and corresponding attachments.  These technologies allow each user to determine for each message whether encryption is necessary and then easily and quickly take the necessary steps.  Receiving the encrypted message only takes a few steps and generally is only necessary for the first encrypted message received from the sender.  The cost of such encryption technology generally is very affordable and well worth the investment to prevent what could be a catastrophic loss for you, your business or your clients, patients or other third parties.

For example, our firm uses Virtru, which embeds directly into Outlook (and other email platforms) and appears as an on/off icon directly above the send button on new messages.  One click and your message is encrypted and it allows you to prevent forwarding of the message, set expiration times and even recall a sent message, for as low as a few dollars per month per user.  Installation involves just a few, easy to follow steps.  What are you waiting for?

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Who Are Ya Gonna Call?

Suppose you have a legal or procedural issue you don’t quite know how to tackle?  Suppose you’re wondering whether you have a conflict of interest?  What if you want to know more about a judge that you’ve never tried a case before?  Who are you going to call?  If you’re in a large firm, perhaps asking a more senior lawyer is the ticket.  But what if you are the senior lawyer in a small firm or if you’re a solo practitioner? If you belong to a legal Listserv, especially one that focuses on your practice area, this might seem like an easy way to get an answer or at least some input.  Just throw your question out there and see what you get back.

Be careful, though. You must remember your obligation to protect your client’s confidential information under Rule 1.6.  OK, so you pose your inquiry in a hypothetical.  Is that good enough?  Maybe.  The problem with Listservs is that you may not know everyone on the receiving end of your inquiry, especially if the Listserv has a large membership.  Suppose you have a question about filing a motion to remove a matter to Federal Court.  You know that opposing counsel is not even a member of the Bar Association, so you feel comfortable posing a question about how to file the motion.  Unbeknownst to you, however, opposing counsel’s law partner is on the Listserv.  Although the inquiry is in the form of a hypothetical, there is enough information for opposing counsel’s partner to surmise that you are talking about a case his firm handles.  Opposing counsel now knows you’re planning to file this motion and perhaps takes some preemptive action in response.  You may have jeopardized a strategic move by making the inquiry on Listserv.  If someone can figure out the client or case from your hypothetical, then you may have breached the duty of confidentiality, unwittingly.

What can you do?  Consider first the kind of inquiry that you have and carefully weigh the risk of opposing counsel, the opposing party, or third parties learning confidential information.  Even a hypothetical question may pose some risk.  Then, consider whether you may have other options.  A hypothetical posed to an individual colleague with no involvement with any of the parties or counsel involved may be sufficient.  Keep in mind that there are other options depending upon the type of question that you have.  For example, Rule 1.6(b)(5) permits lawyers to disclose confidential information to secure legal advice about compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.  This means that you may call the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline, a Lawyer’s Mutual (liability insurance) claims counselor, or another lawyer who gives advice about the Rules of Professional Conduct (guess who).  In addition, Rule 1.6 permits disclosure of confidential information to a lawyers’ assistance program approved by the State Bar such as LAP, LAMP or the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association.

Bottom Line: Listservs provide a great service to the profession.  Just carefully consider the possible consequences before posting about a client matter, even in a hypothetical.  And if the risk is too great, there just may be a better option.


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Keep an Eye Out for Changing Trust Accounting Requirements

Over the last several years, the State Bar has made a concerted effort to step up enforcement concerning supervision of trust accounts, so it is a good idea to stay informed of changes to the trust accounting rules. The State Bar has recently proposed amendments to the trust accounting rules (Rule 1.15 and its sub-parts). You can view the complete proposed amendments in the Spring 2015 edition of the Journal and on the State Bar’s website.

The proposed amendments would primarily add requirements that facilitate the early detection of internal theft and errors. Although not a complete list of all the proposed changes, a summary of the more significant proposed amendments are below:

Rule 1.15-1

The proposed amendment to Rule 1.15-1 adds credit unions to the list of possible depositories for trust accounts in light of the extension of FDIC insurance coverage to individual client deposits in credit union accounts.

Rule 1.15-2

  • In Rule 1.15-2, the proposed amendments clarify that a lawyer must indicate on a trust account check made out to himself, the name of the client or other identifying information from whose balance the item is drawn.
  • The proposal also specifies that cash and bearer withdrawals from a trust account are not allowed by any means. Debit cards are specifically prohibited to withdraw funds from a general trust or fiduciary account.
  • Rule 1.15-2 also makes clear that no funds, other than those received by a lawyer in connection with professional legal services or professional fiduciary services may be placed in trust (if handling fiduciary funds for family on a pro bono basis, the funds should not be placed in your trust account).
  • In addition, the proposed amendments to the rules clarify the duty to report misappropriation and provide that a lawyer who discovers or reasonably believes that entrusted property has been misappropriated must immediately inform the trust account compliance counsel in the State Bar’s Office of Counsel.
  • Further, when an accounting or bank error results in an unintentional and inadvertent use of one client’s trust funds to pay the obligations of another client, the event must be reported unless the misapplication is discovered and rectified on or before the next quarterly reconciliation.  The proposal also requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6, Confidentiality of Information, if necessary to report the misappropriation or misapplication.
  • The proposed amendment to Rule 1.15-2 does not affect the current standard that non-lawyers may be signatories on a lawyer’s trust account.  However it does limit signature authority on trust account checks to either: (a) lawyers who have taken an approved one-hour course on trust account management; or (b) supervised employees who are not lawyers and do not perform monthly or quarterly reconciliations, but who have taken the approved course.
  • Trust account checks may not be signed using signature stamps, preprinted signature lines on checks, or electronic signatures.

Rule 1.15-3

In Rule 1.15-3, the proposed amendments do the following: revise the quarterly reconciliation requirement to state exactly how a three-way reconciliation is done; add monthly and quarterly reviews by the lawyer to facilitate early detection and correction of errors and internal theft; and specify electronic storage and retention periods for certain trust account records.

Specifically, the proposed amendments provide the following related to reviews:

(1) Each month, for each general trust account, dedicated trust account, and fiduciary account, a lawyer must review the bank statement and cancelled checks for the month covered by the bank statement;

(2) Each quarter, for each general trust account, dedicated trust account, and fiduciary account, a lawyer must review the statement of costs and receipts, client ledger, and cancelled checks of a random sample (pick at least three) of representative transactions completed during the quarter to verify that the disbursements were properly made;

(3) The lawyer must investigate, identify, and resolve within ten days any discrepancies discovered during the monthly and quarterly reviews;

(4) A report of each monthly and quarterly review, including a description of the review, the transactions sampled, and any remedial action taken, must be prepared. The lawyer must sign, date, and retain a printed copy of the report and associated documentation for a period of six years.  Note however, the signed and dated printed copy may be saved in electronic format provided it is retained in a format that cannot be manipulated, such as a PDF.

Rule 1.15-4

Rule 1.15-4, Trust Account Management in Multiple-Lawyer Firm, is a proposed new subpart related to trust account management in multi-lawyer firms where a firm may, but is not required to, designate a firm principal to serve as the trust account oversight officer [“TAOO”] to oversee the administration of the firm’s general trust accounts.  If you are a managing partner or owner of a multi-lawyer law firm, you should review this proposed rule carefully to determine whether you should designate a TAOO in your office.

The State Bar’s Trust Account Handbook is available on its website for your reference. Our Firm also offers customized trust account procedural assessments for law firms and lawyers who need outside assistance.  We will be discussing some of the proposed changes to the Rules in more depth in future blogs, once they are adopted by the State Bar.


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Disciplinary Matter? You May Be Covered

As a busy professional with limited time, one of the last things you want to receive is an official letter from your licensing board or agency about a complaint that has been filed against you.  To make matters worse, hiring experienced counsel to represent you in such a matter may be important but is almost certainly an unanticipated expense.  Fortunately, coverage for such representation from professional liability carriers has become increasingly common in recent years.  One of the first things you should do if you receive such a disciplinary or ethics complaint is to check your professional liability insurance policy and determine if you have coverage.

Historically, liability carriers for physicians, dentists, therapists and other medical professionals have been more likely to contain coverage for representation in disciplinary proceedings than insurers for other professionals.  Increasingly, professional liability carriers for attorneys and other professionals have begun offering such coverage.  Some of these carriers pay the attorney directly and others provide reimbursement coverage, which requires the professional to pay the attorney first and then seek reimbursement from the carrier, typically up to a certain limit.  The amount of coverage can vary significantly, typically in a range from $5,000-$25,000, and generally it has no deductible, unlike malpractice coverage.  Most carriers allow the professional to select the attorney of their choice.

As an example, Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina (LML NC) insures a large number of attorneys in this state.  It recently has amended its policy to include several additional benefits that do not trigger the insured’s deductible amount, including reimbursement coverage in disciplinary proceedings.  This provision is being incorporated into new policies or upon renewal of existing policies.  Under the amended policy, LML NC will reimburse its insured for legal fees paid to an attorney representing the insured as a result of a disciplinary proceeding.

Generally, to trigger such reimbursement coverage, the disciplinary proceeding must be:

(a) related to the provision of legal services on or after the prior acts date of the insured in the policy (generally excluding acts prior to coverage with LML NC); and

(b) first initiated against the insured and reported to LML NC during the policy period or any extended reporting period (“tail” coverage).

Reimbursement coverage is excluded in the following situations:

1.   the insured has been convicted of a felony for conduct giving rise to a disciplinary proceeding; or

2.   the proceeding results in discipline of the insured because of theft, embezzlement, misappropriation, or other unauthorized withdrawal or misapplication of funds.

If coverage is provided under the conditions in sections a and b and is not excluded under 1 and 2 above, LML NC will reimburse the insured up to $5000 per policy period.  This is an excellent additional benefit now being provided for the first time to many lawyers in North Carolina.  For many grievances with the State Bar that are not overly complex or document intensive, the reimbursement amount will cover representation by an experienced attorney at that informal stage.

This reimbursement coverage, however, likely would only cover a small portion of a case referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for a formal evidentiary hearing.  It is yet another reason why it’s important to seek representation by counsel experienced with State Bar matters at the early and informal stages of the proceedings.  Most all of us know the expression that a lawyer who represents himself or herself has a fool for a client.  While that may be an overstatement, it is difficult to be objective in representing yourself while being attacked, often by a client that you have gone out of your way to help.

One of the great aspects of LML NC is that its in-house counsel are very proactive about early intervention and pre-suit, claims repair assistance before the problem gets out of control if contacted early by an insured.  Our firm has a similar philosophy about grievance or disciplinary matters and highly recommends that lawyers and other professionals get assistance and representation as early in the process as possible.  For more information about the grievance process and whether you need to retain counsel, review  Regardless of your profession, if you receive an ethics or disciplinary complaint, first check your professional liability policy for coverage and then seriously consider retaining an attorney experienced in handling such matters.  For more information, review .  If you have coverage now, take advantage of it and don’t have a fool for a client.

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Maintaining a Strong Professional Core

If you’ve been to a gym, attended almost any exercise class, or worked with a personal trainer in the last 5+ years, you almost certainly have heard these or similar words: “The key to success is developing and maintaining a strong core.”  This is true whether you are a runner, biker, swimmer, yogi, skier, or cross trainer, among many others.  It’s excellent advice but also has important applications outside of the gym for your health and fitness.  This same principle is just as essential in your professional life as in your personal life.  It applies whether you are a lawyer, physician, pharmacist, CPA, therapist, broker, or insurance agent, to name just a few.

In order to be successful in the long term, it is critical to develop a set of core principles around which you organize and operate your professional life and dealings.  Determining these core principles should be a very contemplative and deliberate process.  These core values must be personal to your situation and circumstances.  No one can provide others a standard, one-size-fits-all set of core values that will work for every person, situation or profession.

Although no one single set of core principles applies across all professions, they often have substantial overlap for many professionals.  The following set of core values is merely an example of those you may consider:

  1. Serve Clients: The essence and most important aspect of any profession is service to clients, patients or customers.  All critical decisions should consider whether the chosen path will improve you and your firm’s ability to serve clients or patients better. Without clients or patients, and providing good service to them, there is no profession or business.  Results are only one aspect of providing excellent service to clients.  Responsiveness, empathy and compassion are equally important to clients and patients.
  2. Be different: Don’t do what everyone else is doing already.  Find a practice area that you enjoy and concentrate in becoming the best professional you can be in that area.  Preferably, the practice area will be one that is not overcrowded and is likely to grow in the future.  Regardless, make sure that you enjoy doing it on a daily basis.  No amount of vacation can make up for practicing in an area or for clients that you don’t like.
  3. Choose wisely: This principle applies across the spectrum of decisions involved in your profession and practice, including selecting your clients or patients, choosing staff and others that will assist you, properly evaluating cases or professional matters initially, and determining how to structure and organize your office or practice, among various other important determinations. Making wise choices has a significant impact on your professional enjoyment, success and ability to serve clients or patients well.
  4. Work Smart: Hard work and dedication is an essential element of being a successful professional. These qualities are necessary but no longer sufficient, especially in the technological age.  There are now almost an unlimited number of ways to increase your efficiency and effectiveness.  You must make time to continually evaluate whether you are not only working hard but intelligently. This principle also affects the last core value.
  5. Live Balanced: Too many professionals emphasize the hard work and dedication at the expense of maintaining a balanced personal and professional life. This principle is almost cliché, constantly cited, but too often not followed.  In order to be successful and serve your clients well over the long term, you must set aside and make time to pursue, develop and maintain other interests and personal relationships.  An unbalanced life is a long-term formula for professional and personal problems, often leading to mental and physical health or substance abuse issues.

There are many other important core principles or values, besides the above examples, that you may decide are more appropriate to your personal and professional circumstances.  The most critical part is to carefully determine the ones that are the best suited for you and then remind yourself of them on a daily basis as the foundation for a successful professional life.  While developing that strong core is the essential first step, maintaining it is just as important.  Just like in the gym or other athletic endeavors, both developing and maintaining a strong core is an essential element of long-term professional success.

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What To Do If You’ve Goofed

Have you ever made a mistake in your practice?  Of course you have.  We all have.  The question is what are you ethically required to do when that happens?  Must you disclose the mistake to the client? If so, what exactly do you have to tell him or her?  If your mistake was a doozy, do you have to tell the client he or she needs to seeks other counsel or that they may have a malpractice claim against you?

This is the subject of a newly proposed ethics opinion, Proposed 2015 FEO 4*.  According to the opinion, not all mistakes will need to be disclosed to the client.  Small, insignificant errors may not need to be disclosed.  Whether a mistake must be reported depends upon the materiality of the mistake.  Mistakes that would give rise to a malpractice claim must always be reported to the client.  Beyond that, here is what the proposed opinion says:

If the error will result in financial loss to the client, substantial delay in achieving the client’s objectives for the representation, or material disadvantage to the client’s legal position, the error must be disclosed to the client. Similarly, if disclosure of the error is necessary for the client to make an informed decision about the representation or for the lawyer to advise the client of significant changes in strategy, timing, or direction of the representation, the lawyer may not withhold information about the error. Rule 1.4. When a lawyer does not know whether disclosure is required, the lawyer should err on the side of disclosure or should seek the advice of outside counsel, the State Bar’s ethics counsel, or the lawyer’s malpractice carrier.

The question then becomes, if you must report the mistake to the client, what do you need to say?  The proposed opinion provides:

The lawyer must candidly disclose the material facts surrounding the error, including the nature of the error and its effect on the lawyer’s continued representation. If the lawyer believes that she can take steps to remedy the situation or mitigate or avoid a loss, the lawyer should discuss these with the client while informing the client that the client has the right to terminate the representation and seek other counsel. Rule 1.4.

The proposed opinion also makes clear that the attorney should not state or discuss whether the client may have a malpractice claim against the attorney, and should not give legal advice regarding such claim, as it is a conflict of interest to do so.   The attorney should, however, inform the client that it may be “advisable to consult with an independent lawyer with respect to the potential impact of the error on the client’s rights or claims.”  The proposed opinion also advises that the attorney need not

inform the client of the statute of limitations applicable to legal malpractice actions, nor is she required to give the client information about the lawyer’s malpractice insurance carrier or information about how to file a claim with the carrier. 

This is one of those rare instances where it appears that more disclosure is not necessarily better.   Still, before discussing any error with your client, the proposed opinion suggests consulting your liability carrier’s claims counsel about how they would want you to proceed and what information should be provided to the client.

Look for a later blog on whether you must withdraw from representation in the face of an error.

*This is not yet a final opinion, and is set to be heard at the July 2015 Ethics Committee meeting.

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New Proposed Rule for Self Reporting

The newly proposed rules regarding trust accounting are designed to better protect the public by facilitating the early detection of theft and internal errors in attorney trust accounts.  One proposed rule in particular represents a fairly significant change in the reporting requirements when an error or misappropriation is discovered in the trust account.  Currently (at least until the Supreme Court certifies any proposed rules  the Bar submits) Rule 1.15-2(o) of the Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer who discovers misappropriation or misapplication of trust funds to inform the State Bar of this discovery.  Many attorneys already interpreted this rule as requiring a report to the State Bar even when there was just a clerical or accounting error in the trust account.  Ethics Counsel with the State Bar confirmed, however, that this rule was not intended and did not require an attorney to self-report every mistake or accounting error in the trust account. As everyone has made a mistake involving the trust account at one time or another, to require every error to be reported would be unreasonable and unduly burdensome on the State Bar.

The newly proposed Rule, however, would now require, not only self-reporting misappropriation or intentional misapplication of trust funds, but also any mistake in the trust account if the error is not discovered and rectified on or before the next quarterly reconciliation.  The proposed amendment is as follows:

(p) Duty to Report Misappropriation. A lawyer who discovers or reasonably believes that entrusted property has been misappropriated or misapplied shall promptly inform the trust account compliance counsel (TACC) in the North Carolina State Bar Office of Counsel. Discovery of intentional theft or fraud must be reported to the TACC immediately. When an accounting or bank error results in an unintentional and inadvertent use of one client’s trust funds to pay the obligations of another client, the event must be reported unless the misapplication is discovered and rectified on or before the next quarterly reconciliation required by Rule 1.15-3(d)(1). This rule requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6 if necessary to report the misappropriation or misapplication.

The new proposed language is in bold print. In the event that an attorney does not discover and rectify the mistake within the requisite time frame, at the point in time that the attorney DOES discover the problem, he or she must report that fact to the trust account compliance counsel, Peter Bolac.  It is interesting to note that the proposed rule appears only to require reporting when the banking or accounting error results in an unintentional and inadvertent use of one client’s trust funds to pay the obligations of another client, AND the misapplication is not discovered and rectified timely.  As there could be errors in the trust accounting that do not result in the use of one client’s trust funds to pay the obligation of another client, it appears these kinds of errors would never require self-reporting.  I wonder if that is what was intended…

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