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Colorado Lawyers Can Avoid Disciplinary Issues With Online Program

Lawyers can avoid disciplinary problems by completing a new online program launched in Colorado.

Administered by the state's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, it is the first program like it in the nation. Attorneys who use it also can earn credits for continuing legal education.

Lawyers from other jurisdictions may use the self-assessment program, with some limitations. But Illinois is already following Colorado with a similar program.

Self-Assessment

Most often, attorneys seek guidance after ethical issues come up in their practice. The self-assessment program is pro-active and gives lawyers a checklist of areas for improvement in advance.

For example, the self-assessments focus on:

  • Ensuring confidentialy requirements are met
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Maintaining appropriate file and records management systems
  • Charging appropriate fees and making appropriate disbursements

After completing the self-assessment portion of the program, lawyers receive guidance on risk areas. That includes identifying relevant rules, ethics opinions, manuals and other resources.

Other Resources

The Colorado program is designed for attorneys licensed by that state. Lawyers from other jurisdictions are invited to participate, but the program is new and they should not request a complete report because it incurs costs for the state.

James C. Coyle, who heads the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, the program will change as more lawyers use it.

"It's Version 1.0," he told Bloomberg Law. "We want it to evolve."

In Illinois, a self-assessment program is testing and should be online on January 1, 2018. In the meantime, California and other states also offer online support but not a self-assessment program.

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