OF THE HAWAI`I SUPREME COURT
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RESOURCES

Rules governing Hawai`i Attorney Conduct:

·         HRPC – Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct

·         RSCH – Rules of the Supreme Court of Hawai`i

·         DBR - Rules of the Disciplinary Board of the Hawai`i Supreme Court

·         HRGTA – Hawai`i Rules Governing Trust Accounting

·         HRAP – Hawai`i Rules of Apellate Procedure

·         HCRR – Hawai`i Court Records Rules

 

Disclaimer as to other websites: these links are provided as a courtesy.  No representation is made that the links are current, nor is any assurance made that the material contained in the link is valid.  Users are cautioned to read the disclaimer posted by the Hawaii Supreme Court on its Rules web page and to resolve any discrepancies in accord with that notice.

HAWAI`I STATE BAR ASSOCIATION'S (HSBA)

"Client Trust Accounts: Requirements, Rules and Recommendations" prepared by the HSBA Committee on Professional Responsibility and Risk Management (2012)

LINKS TO OTHER WEBSITES THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST

·         Hawai`i State Judiciary

·         Hawai`i State Bar Association

LINKS TO OTHER RELEVANT RULES OF INTEREST

 

·         ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Discipline

·        ABA Model Rules for Professional Conduct

·        ABA Center for Professional Responsibility

·        National Organization of Bar Counsel

·        National Council on Lawyer Disciplinary Boards

 

GUIDELINES FOR CLOSING A LAW PRACTICE

Guidelines for closing down a law practice  

2016 - 2017 MPRE NOTICE

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

 

OTHER HAWAI`I AGENCIES FOR LAWYER & JUDICIAL COMPLAINTS COMPLAINTS

COMPLAINTS AGAINST HAWAI`I JUDGES

Complaints against full-time judges (and part-time judges acting in their judicial capacity) fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of The Commission on Judicial Conduct.  Please send complaints to:

Commission on Judicial Conduct
426 Queen Street, Room 106
Honolulu, HI  96813-2912
Tel. (808) 539-4790
www.courts.state.hi.us

 

AGENCIES FOR COMPLAINTS AGAINST HAWAII LAWYERS

Fee Disputes/Civility Complaints

Information on fee dispute mediation/arbitration services and civility complaints may be obtained from:

Hawai`i State Bar Association
1100 Alakea Street, Suite 1000
Honolulu, HI  96813
Tel. (808) 537-1868
hsba.org
 

Lawyer’s Fund - Claims for Compensation

If you feel that you have lost money due to your own lawyer's dishonest conduct and have been unable to get reimbursement from your lawyer, you should consult with:

Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
201 Merchant Street, Suite 1600
Honolulu, HI  96813
Tel. (808) 599-2483
www.hawaiilawyersfund.com

(NOTE:  Decisions regarding reimbursement of claims submitted to the Lawyers' Fund are independently made by the Trustees of the Fund; however, the ODC staff assists the Trustees in claims investigations.  Reimbursement from the Lawyers' Fund is not automatic and depends on a number of requirements.)

LEGAL ETHICS ADVICE FOR HAWAI`I LAWYERS

FORMAL WRITTEN OPINIONS ON LAWYER ETHICS ISSUES

Formal written opinions are issued only by the Disciplinary Board and are restricted to questions of broad interest and applicability to the bar.  The Disciplinary Board does not issue formal opinions covering individual situations or circumstances.  Formal opinions arise as a result of inquiries by the bar, ODC, the Disciplinary Board and the Hawai`i Supreme Court.

Formal opinions are binding on all members of the bar, and should an attorney fail to observe a formal opinion, that failure can be a basis for disciplinary proceedings.

The following formal opinions are currently in effect:

Number 18 and 22: Sharing Office Space (amended March 19,2015)
Number 24: Gifts (amended March 19, 2015)
Number 28: Retaining Lien (amanded March 19,2015)
Number 31: Donating Legal Services to Charitable Organization
Number 32: Charging Interest on Client’s Outstanding Account
Number 34: Obtaining Loan Financing for Clients (amended March 19,2015)
Number 35: Deleted and incorporated in Number 45 (March 19, 2015)
Number 36: Insurance Defense Counsel’s Disclosure of Confidential Client Information to Insurer’s Outside Auditors
Number 37: Insurer Guidelines for Insurance Defense Counsel (amended March 19,2015)
Number 38: Disclosure of Deceased Client’s Confidential Information (amended March 19,2015)
Number 39: Deleted, superseded by new HRPC Rule 4.4 (March 19, 2015)
Number 40: Email Security
Number 41: Attorney Websites (amended March 19,2015)
Number 42: Captive Law Firms (amended March 19,2015)
Number 43: Of Counsel (amended March 19,2015)
Number 44: Pro Se Communication
Number 45: Handling Credit Card Payments (amended March 19,2015)
Number 46: Referral Fee (amended March 19,2015)
Number 47: Cost to Client for Use of a Contract Attorney
Number 48: Public Defender Imputed Disqualification
Number 49: Deleted, superseded by HRPC 1.2(d) [amended 10/20/2015]

INFORMAL OPINIONS

Informal oral opinions may be rendered by ODC.  These oral opinions address specific factual situations faced by individual attorneys or law firms and are limited to prospective (future) conduct only.  

The inquirer must provide a complete statement of the facts as well as citations to the relevant Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct to demonstrate his or her analysis.  If an attorney fails to review the Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct prior to contacting ODC, this may be noted in ODC's telephone log.

Informal opinions are based solely upon the facts which relayed by the inquiring attorney.  The inquirer will be provided with the best advice available based upon the facts presented by the attorney and that advice may be limited to simply pointing the attorney to the relevant rules for the inquirer to do his/her own analysis.  As such, all informal opinions are nonbinding and receipt of an informal opinion does not constitute a defense in any future disciplinary proceeding

ODC does not answer informal opinion requests from attorneys not licensed or otherwise specially admitted in Hawai`i; or from the public; and does not opine on past conduct.  Such matters would require thorough investigation and analysis and are beyond the scope of ODC's consulting and advisory mission.  ODC does not provide legal advice to anyone.  

The ODC usually responds to over a thousand hotline calls for oral opinions annually from Hawai`i attorneys, and thus it is a significant to the attorney community, but it is not a substitute for learned self-examination and research by the caller.

Click here for the October 2014 Hawai`i Bar Journal article that describes Informal Opinions

PAST HAWAI`I BAR JOURNAL ARTICLES ON LEGAL ETHICS

Listed below are past Hawai`i Bar Journal articles written by the Chief Disciplinary Counsel on a wide range of topics.  These articles are not formal written opinions, but they do provide guidance on issues that attorneys frequently violate:

·         Duties to avoid unwarranted delay, distress and inconvenience toward non-clients (August 1994)

·         Screening Guidelines for Government Employees Coming From a Private Firm (December 1996)

·         Confidentiality and the Prospective Client (November 1996)

·         Contacting Employees of an Opposing Party (May 1997)

·         Reconcile Client Trust Accounts (September 1997)

·         Gifts to Judges and Court Employees (December 1997)

·         Disposition of Deceased Sole Practitioner’s Client Files and Funds (December 1997)

·         Lawyer as Witness (December 1998)

·         Disposition of Closed Client Files (April 1998)

·         Returning Client Files After Termination (September 1998)

·         Client Trust Account: Overdraft or Check Drawn on a Trust Account that is Declined for Non-sufficient Funds (September 1999)

·         Agreements to Conceal Professional Misconduct or Thwart a Disciplinary Investigation are Unethical (December 2000)

·         Government Attorney Conflicts and Screening Guidelines (March 2001)

·         Lawyer Serving as a Fiduciary for an Estate of Trust (November 2002)

·         Lawyer Reviewing Legal Documents Prepared by a Non-party Not Licensed to Practice Law in Hawaii (Document Preparation Company) (October 2002)

·         Client Trust Accounts: Handling and Delegation (March 2003)

·         Retiring from the Practice of Law (November 2003)

·         Inactive Status (or administratively suspended for failure to pay mandated bar dues and fees) Attorneys Cannot Practice Law (April 2004)

·         Impartiality and Decorum Applies to the Courts and the Disciplinary Board (August 2004)

·         Client Trust Account: Labeling (January 2005)

·         Employing/Contracting Suspended and Disbarred Attorneys (September 2005)

·         Missing Clients (April 2006)

·         Client Trust Account: IOLTA Compliance and Certification and Notice Form for Financial Institutions (September 2006)

·         Failure to Communicate, Lack of Diligence, and Failure to Expedite Litigation (January 2007)

·         Client Trust Account: General Information (April 2007)

·         Client Trust Account: Books and Records (September 2007)

·         Law Firm Names (March 2008)

·         Client Trust Account: Bounced Checks (October 2008)

·         Distressed Property Consultants Ethics Alert (November 2009)

·         What to Do When You Receive a Letter from the ODC (March 2010)

·         Limiting Liability to the Client - The Ethical Concerns (April 2010)

·         Interview of Janet Hunt, Chief Disciplinary Counsel (July 2010)

·         The New Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct: What you absolutely need to know and why - Part I (March 2014)

·         Formal Opinions versus Informal Opinions (October 2014)

 

 

OTHER HAWAI`I AGENCIES FOR LAWYER & JUDICIAL COMPLAINTS COMPLAINTS

COMPLAINTS AGAINST HAWAI`I JUDGES

Complaints against full-time judges (and part-time judges acting in their judicial capacity) fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of The Commission on Judicial Conduct.  Please send complaints to:

Commission on Judicial Conduct
426 Queen Street, Room 106
Honolulu, HI  96813-2912
Tel. (808) 539-4790
www.courts.state.hi.us

 

AGENCIES FOR COMPLAINTS AGAINST HAWAII LAWYERS

Fee Disputes/Civility Complaints

Information on fee dispute mediation/arbitration services and civility complaints may be obtained from:

Hawai`i State Bar Association
1100 Alakea Street, Suite 1000
Honolulu, HI  96813
Tel. (808) 537-1868
hsba.org
 

Claims for Compensation

If you feel that you have lost money due to your own lawyer's dishonest conduct and have been unable to get reimbursement from your lawyer, you should consult with:

Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
201 Merchant Street, Suite 1600
Honolulu, HI  96813
Tel. (808) 599-2483
www.hawaiilawyersfund.com

(NOTE:  Decisions regarding reimbursement of claims submitted to the Lawyers' Fund are independently made by the Trustees of the Fund; however, the ODC staff assists the Trustees in claims investigations.  Reimbursement from the Lawyers' Fund is not automatic and depends on a number of requirements.)


LEGAL ETHICS ADVICE FOR HAWAI`I LAWYERS

FORMAL WRITTEN OPINIONS ON LAWYER ETHICS ISSUES

Formal written opinions are issued only by the Disciplinary Board and are restricted to questions of broad interest and applicability to the bar.  The Disciplinary Board does not issue formal opinions covering individual situations or circumstances.  Formal opinions arise as a result of inquiries by the bar, ODC, the Disciplinary Board and the Hawai`i Supreme Court.

Formal opinions are binding on all members of the bar, and should an attorney fail to observe a formal opinion, that failure can be a basis for disciplinary proceedings.

The following formal opinions are currently in effect:

Number 18 and 22: Sharing Office Space (amended March 19,2015)
Number 24: Gifts (amended March 19, 2015)
Number 28: Retaining Lien (amanded March 19,2015)
Number 31: Donating Legal Services to Charitable Organization
Number 32: Charging Interest on Client’s Outstanding Account
Number 34: Obtaining Loan Financing for Clients (amended March 19,2015)
Number 35: Deleted and incorporated in Number 45 (March 19, 2015)
Number 36: Insurance Defense Counsel’s Disclosure of Confidential Client Information to Insurer’s Outside Auditors
Number 37: Insurer Guidelines for Insurance Defense Counsel (amended March 19,2015)
Number 38: Disclosure of Deceased Client’s Confidential Information (amended March 19,2015)
Number 39: Deleted, superseded by new HRPC Rule 4.4 (March 19, 2015)
Number 40: Email Security
Number 41: Attorney Websites (amended March 19,2015)
Number 42: Captive Law Firms (amended March 19,2015)
Number 43: Of Counsel (amended March 19,2015)
Number 44: Pro Se Communication
Number 45: Handling Credit Card Payments (amended March 19,2015)
Number 46: Referral Fee (amended March 19,2015)
Number 47: Cost to Client for Use of a Contract Attorney
Number 48: Public Defender Imputed Disqualification
Number 49: Deleted, superseded by HRPC 1.2(d) [amended 10/20/2015]


INFORMAL OPINIONS

Informal verbal opinions are issued by ODC.  These verbal opinions address specific factual situations faced by individual attorneys or law firms and are limited to prospective (future) conduct only.  

The inquirer must provide a complete statement of the facts as well as citations to the relevant Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct to demonstrate his or her analysis.  If an attorney fails to review the Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct prior to contacting ODC, this may be noted in ODC's telephone log.

Informal opinions are based solely upon the facts which relayed by the inquiring attorney.  The inquirer will be provided with the best advice available based upon the facts presented by the attorney.  As such, all informal opinions are nonbinding.  Receipt of an informal opinion does not constitute a defense in any future disciplinary proceeding. 

ODC does not answer informal opinion requests from attorneys not licensed in Hawai`i; or from the public; and does not opine on past conduct.  Such matters would require thorough investigation and analysis and are beyond ODC's mission.  ODC does not provide legal advice.  

ODC responds to over a thousand opinions annual from Hawai`i attorneys.




Click here for the October 2014 Hawai`i Bar Journal article that describes Informal Opinions


PAST HAWAI`I BAR JOURNAL ARTICLES ON LEGAL ETHICS

Listed below are past Hawai`i Bar Journal articles written by the Chief Disciplinary Counsel on a wide range of topics.  These articles are not formal written opinions, but they do provide guidance on issues that attorneys frequently violate: