Hawaii Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Projects

Commission Projects (2005 - present)

1.  Mandatory Continuing Professional Education

The Commission presented a recommendation to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court to amend the Rules of the Supreme Court to require continuing professional education.  The Hawai`i Supreme Court accepted the Commission’s recommendation, and adopted new Rule 22 of the Rules of the Supreme Court entitled “Mandatory Continuing Professional Education and Voluntary Continuing Legal Education.”  New Rule 22 was adopted by Order dated July 15, 2009, effective January 1, 2010.

2. Tips from the Bench and Bar

A special project of the Hawaii Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, "Tips from the Bench and Bar" features Hawai`i Supreme Court justices, Intermediate Court of Appeals judges, and practitioners who frequently practice in Hawai`i appellate courts, who are interviewed on practical matters of how to handle an appeal in Hawai`i.

3.   Mandatory Disclosure of Professional Liability Insurance on Annual Attorney Registration Statements

The Commission recommended that the Supreme Court revise Rule 17(d)(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court to require that attorneys disclose on their annual Hawai`i State Bar Association attorney registration statement whether they have professional liability insurance.  The Supreme Court accepted the Commission’s recommendation, and an Order Amending Rule 17(d) of the Rules of the Supreme Court was filed on October 10, 2007.  

4.  Online Availability to Public of Attorney’s Disclosure Regarding Whether They Have Professional Liability Insurance

After analysis of the data revealed in response to revised Rule 17(d)(1) regarding disclosure of professional liability insurance on attorney’s annual registration statements, and review of rules in other jurisdictions, the Commission recommended that the Supreme Court adopt a rule requiring that the attorney’s disclosure information regarding professional liability insurance be available online to the public.  Such a rule is presently being drafted for consideration by the Supreme Court.

5.  Presentation at a Judicial Education Conference Regarding What Judges Can Do to Encourage Professionalism by Lawyers in the Courtroom

A Commission member judge organized and coordinated a program entitled “Advancing Professionalism in the Courtroom” for all full-time state judges.  The program (attendance is mandatory) includes a panel consisting of two retired state trial judges, a federal magistrate judge, the Disciplinary Counsel, a representative of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, and a longtime civil practicing attorney who previously served on the Judicial Selection Commission.  The program will be presented on April 30, 2010.

6.    Rejuvenation of the Hawai`i State Bar Association (HSBA) Minor Misconduct Program

The Commission members and representatives of the HSBA, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC), and the Attorneys and Judges Assistance Program worked together to rejuvenate the HSBA Minor Misconduct Program, which allows the ODC to refer lawyers accused of minor misconduct not warranting formal ODC disciplinary proceedings to HSBA mentors for guidance and counseling.  The Commission’s recommendations to amend Rules 2.7, 2.8, and 2.2 of the Rules of the Supreme Court to facilitate implementation of the Minor Misconduct Program was submitted for public comment by the Supreme Court.

7.    Revision of Disciplinary Board Formal Opinion No. 43 Regarding Use of the Title “Of Counsel”

The Commission recommended revision of Disciplinary Board Formal Opinion No. 43 regarding requirements for designation of an “Of Counsel” relationship by a law firm and attorney.  The recommendation is presently pending before the Disciplinary Board.

8.    Revision of Rule 2.24 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Hawai`i Entitled “Audit of Trust Accounts”

The Commission recommended to the Supreme Court that Rule 2.24 of the RSCH be revised to shift the cost of an audit of an attorney’s trust account to the attorney audited when the audit reveals that the attorney was not in substantial compliance with trust accounting requirements or when an attorney’s trust account check is dishonored or the trust account balance falls below zero.  The Supreme Court agreed with the Commission’s recommendation, and an Order Amending Rule 2.24 was entered on October 2, 2007.

9.    American Bar Association Recommendation Adopted by the House of Delegates August 13-14, 2007 Regarding a Plan for Law Practice Contingencies in Event of Death, Disability, Disappearance, and Disbarment

After study, based upon the rationale of the HSBA expressed in its opposition to a Mandatory Plan for Law Practice Contingencies in Event of Death, Disability, Disappearance, and Disbarment, the Commission agreed not to recommend the adoption of a rule requiring mandatory designation of an inventory attorney.

10.    Review of Possible Need to Revise Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct Regarding Pro Se Litigants and “Unbundling of Legal Services” Issue

The Commission is presently studying whether the Hawai`i Rules of Professional Conduct should be revised in recognition of the increasing number of “pro se” litigants and the need for clarity regarding the “Unbundling of Legal Services” issue to assist access to justice by the public.

11.    Revision of Rule 2.7(b)(3) of the Rules of the Supreme Court to Broaden the Existing List of Agencies, Entities, Programs, and Individuals Authorized to Accept Referrals for Non-Disciplinary Proceedings for Minor Misconduct

The Commission recommended that the Supreme Court revise Rule 2.7(b)(3) of the Rules of the Supreme Court to broaden the existing list of agencies, entities, programs, and individuals authorized to accept referrals for non-disciplinary proceedings for minor misconduct.  The Supreme Court accepted the Commission’s recommendation, and an Order Approving Referral Agencies was filed on April 11, 2006.

12.    Revision of Rule 16.1 of the Rules of the Supreme Court (Entitled “Purpose; Scope” of the Attorneys and Judges Assistance Program”) to Include Law Students at the William S. Richardson School of Law

The Commission recommended that Rule 16.1 of the Rules of the Supreme Court be revised to include law students at the William S. Richardson School of Law.  The Supreme Court accepted the Commission’s recommendation, and an Order Amending Rule 16 was filed on December 18, 2006.

13.    Survey of Programs and Other Educational Vehicles Concerning Professionalism and Ethics Presently in Place at the William S. Richardson School of Law, the Hawai`i Supreme Court of Bar Examiners, the Hawai`i Professionalism Course, the Hawai`i State Bar Association, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel

The Commission completed an extensive survey of programs and other educational vehicles concerning professionalism and ethics presently in place at the William S. Richardson School of Law, the Hawai`i Supreme Court of Bar Examiners, the Hawai`i Professionalism Course, the Hawai`i State Bar Association, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

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