The Utah Supreme Court requests comments on its regulatory reform efforts. The comment period is open for 90 days, ending on July 23, 2020. Please see https://sandbox.utcourts.gov/ and the press release for more information.
Supreme Court Standing Order
Standing Order 15: This order would establish a pilot legal regulatory sandbox and an Office of Legal Services Innovation to assist the Utah Supreme Court with respect to overseeing and regulating the practice of law by nontraditional legal service providers or by traditional providers offering nontraditional legal services.
Rules of Professional Conduct
Rules Governing the Professional Independence of Lawyer: The Supreme Court proposes repealing current Rule 5.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and replacing it with Rules 5.4A and 5.4B.
- Rule 5.4A: This rule would govern lawyers delivering legal services in the traditional and conventional model. New Rule 5.4A(a) outlines the foremost duties of a lawyer – the duty of independence of judgment, duty of loyalty to the client, and duty of confidentiality – applicable to the rest of the Rule. The preeminence of these professional core values is further explained in new Comments  and  as they pertain to sharing fees with nonlawyers, with lawyers in a separate firm, and accepting referrals and payments from parties other than the client. In order to loosen the restriction on fee sharing, Rule 5.4A(b) allows a lawyer to share legal fees with a nonlawyer as long as written notice is given at the outset of the representation or before sharing fees from an existing client.
- Rule 1.5: Paragraph (e) of this rule would be eliminated to allow dividing fees among lawyers who are not in the same firm.
- Rule 5.4B: This rule would be applicable to lawyers participating in the pilot legal regulatory sandbox. Like proposed Rule 5.4A, the core professional values for lawyers underlying this proposed rule are stated at the outset under subsection (a). Comments  and  reiterate and clarify the importance of the underlying core values and duties of a lawyer, notwithstanding the novel arrangement with nonlawyers. Proposed Rule 5.4B(b) allows a lawyer to practice law in an organization that is managed or owned, in whole or in part, by nonlawyers, as long as (i) the client is given written notice that nonlawyers have a financial interest in the organization or nonlawyers have managerial authority over the lawyer, and (ii) the client receives in writing the financial or managerial structure of the organization.
Lawyer Advertising Rules: The Supreme Court proposes significantly simplifying the lawyer advertising rules in the Rules of Professional Conduct. Under this proposal, current Rules 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 7.5 would be repealed and replaced with new Rule 7.1. Notably, this proposal would eliminate the prohibition against in-person solicitation found in current Rule 7.3.
- Rule 7.1: Would prohibit (i) making false and misleading claims about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services, and (ii) interacting in a way that involves coercion, duress, or harassment.
Drafts for Review
Standing Order 15 (conceptualizing the pilot legal regulatory sandbox and Office of Legal Services Innovation)
Redline Rules 5.4A and 5.4B (showing the changes from current Rule 5.4)
Redline Rule 1.5 (showing the elimination of paragraph (e))
Clean Rules 5.4A and 5.4B (showing the traditional legal services delivery model and the model contemplated in the pilot legal regulatory sandbox)
Redline Rules 7.1 through 7.5 (showing the process of simplifying the lawyer advertising rules)
Clean Rules 7.1 through 7.5 (showing simplified Rule 7.1 and the reservation of Rules 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 7.5)