Vol. 80, No. 5, May 2007
On April 12, the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved petition 06-04 filed by the State Bar to make certain modifications to the supreme court rules governing lawyers' trust accounts. The petition was based on the recommendations of the State Bar's Trust Account Working Group, appointed by then president Michelle Behnke in 2004 to propose revisions to the rules, which were effective July 1, 2004. The new rules are effective July 1, 2007.
"I am grateful for all the time and energy that this working group put into this project," says Behnke. "As I visited local bars around the state, I often heard that the trust account rule approved in 2004 was unworkable and even the most ethical lawyer would be likely to make a mistake in violation of the rule. I knew we had to do something to address the problems while protecting the public interest. The working group could have taken an easy approach by tweaking a few words, but they really took a hard look at the rule. They got input from lawyers and the public, and they made real substantive revisions. I really appreciate their efforts and commitment to the task."
Trust Account Working Group members
Michael Olds, chair, Madison; Barry Cohen, Elkhart Lake; Dean Dietrich, Wausau; Diane Diel, Milwaukee; Len Leverson, Milwaukee; Sheila Romell, Milwaukee; Dan Shneidman, Milwaukee; Gerry Mowris, Madison; Keith Sellen, Madison; Ms. Mary Hoeft Smith, Madison; Tim Pierce, Madison.
The State Bar CLE Webcast seminar, Fees, Fee Agreements and Trust Accounts under the New Rules of Professional Conduct, is scheduled for May 17 and June 19, 12 - 1:30 p.m. (CDT). the seminar offers guidance on the new amendments' key issues, including: what "retainer" now means; what you now need to do with flat fees; credit card trust accounts; and timing requirements for the refund process. The State Bar will submit this seminar for up to 1.5 CLE credits and 1.5 EPR credits. Tuition is $79 for members and $99 for nonmembers. To register, visit www.wisbar.org/cle.
An in-depth article on the rule changes will be published in the June Wisconsin Lawyer™.
Members also can call the Ethics Hotline at (608) 250-6168 with questions about the new rules.