Guide Regal Legal Outlines - Evidence

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There is no unconditional right to appeal any Arbitration Determination. The Court Rules specify the following as the limited grounds for appeal:. This limited appeal may be taken within 21 days after receipt of the fee committee's written Arbitration Determination. Hughes Justice Complex, P. The appeal form, properly completed, must be returned to the DRB within 21 days.

The timely filing of a Notice of Appeal automatically stops the collection of any judgment obtained based upon the fee committee's Arbitration Determination.

All limited appeals are considered by the DRB on the written record. The decision of the DRB on any appeal is final. Absent compelling reasons, the Board will not consider untimely requests for, or returns of, Notice of Appeal forms. If the Arbitration Determination directs that the attorney must pay a specified sum to the client, the attorney is required to make such payment within 30 days of receipt of the Arbitration Determination unless the matter is on appeal.

Without a hearing being conducted, the parties may also reach agreement by Stipulation of Settlement to resolve the fee dispute. In either case, if the attorney fails to make the payment that is owed to the client, the client should contact the Office of Attorney Ethics ext.

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After the same day period within which payment must be made, or after the appeal has been decided by the DRB, the parties may also seek to have the Arbitration Determination entered as a judgment by a Court, by following the procedures specified by Court Rules A-3 e and But neither party may re-litigate the matter. By Supreme Court rule, fee proceedings must be conducted in the district where the attorney maintains an office for practice.

There are 17 district fee secretaries. Click here for a list of addresses and telephone numbers for the district fee secretaries. Fee arbitration proceedings are confidential, and the Court Rules spell out the restrictions on disclosure of the proceedings. Under Court Rules, once you file for fee arbitration, you are required thereafter to keep all communications and records regarding the fee matter confidential. You may not breach this confidentiality by disclosing your fee dispute to persons other than members of the fee arbitration system, except to discuss the case with other witnesses or to consult an attorney.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has established the attorney fee arbitration system to provide clients with a fair, efficient, economical, and expeditious means of resolving fee disputes, and to foster public confidence in the legal profession. Accordingly, all involved with the fee arbitration committees welcome your participation in the process. The Random Audit Compliance Program conducts periodic audits of law firms that engage in the private practice of law in the state. The purpose of the program is to insure that law firms maintain required records of clients' funds and attorneys' fees.

The information on this webpage highlights the general operation of the Random Audit Program RAP , as well as some of the more important accounting requirements imposed on all attorneys who engage in the private practice of law in this state.

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Every attorney is obligated to read these rules and comply with them in accordance with case law and advisory opinions interpreting them, and in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice. The Institute for Continuing Legal Education , which can be contacted at , publishes a book titled Trust and Business Accounting For Attorneys that contains more substantial detail, together with samples of all required journals, ledgers, and reconciliation formats. Since , the New Jersey Supreme Court has operated a program for random audits of attorney trust and business account records to determine compliance with the Supreme Court of New Jersey's mandatory recordkeeping rule, R.

The central purpose of the New Jersey Random Audit Program is the education of New Jersey attorneys on the proper method of compliance with their recordkeeping and ethical responsibilities under R. A secondary purpose underlying random audits is deterrence. Just knowing that there is an active auditing program is an incentive, not only to keep good records, but also to avoid temptations to misuse trust funds.

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Finally, there is the purpose of detection of misappropriation. Since the random selection process results, by definition, in selecting a representative cross-section of the Bar, a few audits inevitably uncover some lawyer theft. In those few instances the deterrent effect is heightened by the strong discipline imposed by our Supreme Court, namely the mandate of virtually automatic disbarment for the knowing misappropriation of client's funds as set forth in the case of In re Wilson, 81 N.

An annual random selection of audit candidates is made from the statewide list of licensed attorneys using the law firm as the entity subject to audit, rather than individual attorneys. Every attorney in private practice is regarded as a member of a law firm. A law firm may consist of one or more attorneys, and the law firm identifier is the 10 digit "main" office telephone number.

That number is captured for all private practice attorneys annually as part of the Attorney Registration Program. The selection process is accomplished by a computer program that periodically selects audit candidates using a tested random selection methods, which is documented in its ability to produce truly random results. As a result, every law firm, regardless of size, has an equal chance of being selected for an audit.

Once an attorney or law firm is selected, the attorney or firm is provided with written notice 10 days to two weeks in advance of the scheduled date. Generally, only one auditor is assigned to a matter. Occasionally, two or more auditors are assigned if a large firm or other complicating feature is involved. It is preferable for the attorney to be present at the audit. If the attorney cannot be present, a responsible person knowledgeable about the books and records must be available.

On arriving at the law office, the auditor conducts an initial interview with the attorney or responsible person left in charge. Detailed information about the firm's recordkeeping procedures is secured and recorded on a Random Audit Questionnaire form. The auditor also conducts a review of the firm's trust and business account books and records in order to determine compliance with the rule requirements. The review culminates in a reconciliation of the attorney's trust account or accounts as of the date of the most recent bank statement.

Office of Attorney Ethics

Any recordkeeping deficiencies are noted by the auditor on a Recordkeeping Deficiencies Checklist which contains a brief description of the most commonly found recordkeeping deficiencies. The auditor provides a copy of the checklist to the attorney or person left in charge, and, in an exit conference, discusses with that individual the corrective actions that should be taken to remedy any deficiencies which have been found. Outline of Recordkeeping Requirements Blue Book. This outline includes a summary of the substantive requirements, and also contains samples of all required receipts and disbursement journals, client trust ledgers and reconciliation formats.

Shortly after the audit, the attorney is formally advised by correspondence of the results.

If the audit revealed no problems, a closing letter is forwarded that acts as the final disposition of the matter. If minor deficiencies were discovered, a deficiency letter is sent to the attorney describing the shortcomings that require corrective action. The source of information for the deficiencies is the aforementioned Recordkeeping Deficiencies Checklist. Within 45 days after the date of the deficiency letter, the attorney is required to submit a response addressing the corrective action taken for the cited recordkeeping deficiencies.

On receipt of an acceptable response from the attorney, the matter is closed. If the attorney does not respond, the matter may be referred to the Office of Attorney Ethics for disciplinary action. If, at any point during the audit process, major deficiencies are discovered, such as misappropriation of client's trust funds, the matter is referred immediately to the Office of Attorney Ethics for disciplinary action.

RPC 1. These assets must be kept separate from the attorney's personal and business assets, and not be used for any purpose whatsoever, other than as directed by the client. The attorney is specifically obligated to notify a client promptly when client funds and property is received; to provide the client with appropriate accountings; and to disburse promptly to the client all funds and property to which the client is entitled.

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Non-cash property, such as bonds and securities, should be clearly identified as client property and secured in the attorney's safe or safe deposit box. Finally, RPC 1. All attorneys who engage in the private practice of law in New Jersey are required to maintain at least two bank accounts: an attorney trust account and an attorney business account. In addition, R.

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It is a special bank account, usually a checking account, into which must be placed all funds which are entrusted to the attorney's care while the attorney is acting in a legal representative capacity on behalf of a client. An attorney trust account should not be used for funds which an attorney receives while acting in any special fiduciary capacity, such as executor, guardian, receiver or trustee; these funds are to be placed into separate fiduciary accounts. Funds that are entrusted to the attorney's care that belong partly to a client and partly to an attorney, presently or potentially, must also be deposited into the attorney trust account.

The attorney's portion may be withdrawn when due, unless the client disputes the withdrawal after receiving proper notice of the attorney's bill. In that event, the disputed portion must remain in the trust account until the dispute with the client is resolved.