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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Connecticut Legal Ethics

1.3   Rule 1.3 Diligence

1.3:100   Comparative Analysis of Connecticut Rule

Primary Connecticut References: CT Rule 1.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:
Connecticut Commentary:

1.3:101      Model Rule Comparison

The text of Model Rule 1.3 and Conn. Rule 1.3 are identical. The Comments to the Model Rule are similar to but slightly more expansive than the Conn. Rule Comments. Model Rule Comment [1] contains the added statement that Ëthe lawyer's duty to act with reasonable diligence does not require the use of offensive tactics or preclude the treating of all persons involved in the legal process with courtesy and respect.Ó The Model Code states that a lawyer's work load must be handled ËcompetentlyÓ while the Conn. Rule says it must be handled Ëadequately.Ó

Model Rule Comment [3] is identical to Conn. Rule Comment [2] except the Model Rule contains an additional statement that reasonable promptness does not preclude agreeing to a reasonable postponement. The Model Rule contains an additional Comment [5] regarding how to prevent neglect of client matters in the event of a sole practitionerÁs death.

1.3:102      Model Code Comparison

Although there was no direct counterpart to Conn. Rule 1.3 in the Model Code, the general mandate of diligence can be found in various sections of the Model Code. For instance, Canon 7 ËA Lawyer Should Represent a Client Zealously Within the Bounds of the Law,Ó noted that it is the lawyerÁs duty Ëto represent his client zealously within the bounds of the law....Ó Similarly, Model Code DR 7-101(A)(1) prohibited a lawyer from intentionally failing Ëto seek the lawful objectives of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary Rules....Ó Model Code DR 6-101(A)(3) also barred a lawyer from neglecting Ëa matter entrusted to him.Ó

1.3:200   Diligence and "Zeal"

Primary Connecticut References: CT Rule 1.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:
Connecticut Commentary:

In Wenc v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. CV 92703470, 1993 WL 137719 (Conn. Super. April 26, 1993), the court discussed the proper analysis of a lawyerÁs conduct under Rule 1.3. The court highlighted certain circumstances in which an attorney would violate Rule 1.3, if the attorney: Ë1) consistently failed to carry out obligations to the client; 2) exhibited a conscious disregard for the responsibility owed to the client; 3) failed to seek the lawful objectives of his or her client; 4) failed to carry out his employment contract; or 5) prejudiced the client.Ó The court noted that in order to determine whether an attorneyÁs conduct violates Rule 1.3, his actions must be viewed within the totality of the circumstances, rather than in isolation.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Baldwin, No. CV 010807111, 2001 WL 1560895 (Conn. Super. Nov. 13, 2001), the court held that the defendant violated Rule 1.3. In Baldwin, the defendant/attorney mismanaged his clientÁs financial affairs, admitting that Ëhe [the attorney] failed to institute proper and adequate fiscal management processes.Ó The court held that the defendant breached his Ëethical duty to act with reasonable diligence and competence in representing a client as required by rule 1.3....Ó

In Kahn v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. CV 000503712S, 2001 WL 219914 (Conn. Super. Feb. 9, 2001), the court found that the attorney violated Rule 1.3 in his representation of his former client in a marriage dissolution action. Specifically, the attorney failed to adequately pursue pendente lite financial orders protecting his client and her children. The court highlighted that before the attorney was terminated by the client, the attorney Ëunreasonably failed to have these motions [pendente lite financial orders] addressed by the court.Ó

In Laviano v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. CV 990497413S, 2000 WL 1196427, (Conn. Super. July 28, 2000), the court held the attorney violated Rule 1.3 due to his lack of diligence in representing his client. In Laviano, the attorney represented a client in an employment discrimination suit. The court found that the attorney Ëessentially abandoned [the case]... after the failure of settlement negotiations while he continued to represent [his client]Ó in clear violation of Rule 1.3.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Calabrese, No. CV 960387384, 1999 WL 233847 (Conn. Super. April 12, 1999), the court held that the defendantÁs failure to represent his clientÁs diligently in their bankruptcy proceeding, as evidenced by Ëfailing to appear at the creditorsÁ meeting and hearing, and by failing to protect his clientsÁ interests subsequent to the filing of a motion to dismiss by the trustee,Ó violated Rule 1.3.

In Feit v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. CV 970572320S, 1998 WL 131605 (Conn.Super. March 13, 1998), the court held that an attorneyÁs failure to appear at a hearing or, in the alternative, to seek a continuance of her clientÁs case violated Rule 1.3's mandate that an attorney diligently represent her clients.

In Cramer v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. CV 96056467, 1997 WL 53340 (Conn. Super. Jan. 31, 1997), an attorney violated Rule 1.3 by his lack of diligence in representing his client. In this case, the attorney was retained in 1990 and was unaware of the status of the file in 1993. Unbeknownst to the attorney, the case was dismissed in 1992.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Friedland, 222 Conn. 131, 609 A.2d 645 (1992), the court affirmed disciplinary actions against an attorney based on his violation of Rule 1.3. In Friedland, the attorneyÁs misconduct consisted of repeated failures to meet deadlines, neglect in responding to client inquiries and numerous failures to attend hearings.

In Informal Opinion 95-8 (1995), the Committee opined that an attorneyÁs actions were ethical under the Rules, including Rule 1.3. In this case, the attorney wished to collect his clientÁs judgment from the defendant by mailing copies of the courtÁs award to Ëevery building department and zoning office in New Haven and Litchfield Counties, all Better Business Bureau office in those areas...Ó as well as place ads in the local newspaper. The Committee opined that Rule 1.3 encourages lawyers to take Ëwhatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a clientÁs cause or endeavor.Ó Further, the Committee noted that the attorneyÁs proposed actions were protected by the First Amendment and were not unethical.

1.3:300   Promptness

Primary Connecticut References: CT Rule 1.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:
Connecticut Commentary:

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Warren, No. CV 990362750, 1999 WL 818605 (Conn. Super. Oct. 1, 1999), the court noted that an attorney who allowed the Statute of Limitations to run on his clients case was a violation of Rule 1.3. Statewide Grievance Committee v. Recio, No. CV 970576086S, 1998 WL 167286 (Conn. Super. March 31, 1998) is in accord noting that failure to file a negligence suit prior to the expiration of the Statute of Limitations is a violation of Rule 1.3.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Diette, No. CV 95049387S, 1995 WL 250206 (Conn. Super. Apr. 21, 1995), the court held that an attorneyÁs failure to prosecute his clientÁs appeal constituted a violation of Rule 1.3. Due to the attorneyÁs failure to prosecute the appeal, his clientÁs case was dismissed for failure to prosecute with reasonable diligence, in violation of Rule 1.3. The court also noted that the attorneyÁs failure to notify the client of such dismissal was violative of Rule 1.3.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. Wechsler, No. CV 960566673S, 1997 WL 321575 (Conn. Super. May 30, 1997), the court held that an attorneyÁs delay in forwarding proceeds of his clientsÁ settlement sums to his clients and his clientsÁ medical providers contravened Rule 1.3. Specifically, the attorney sent the settlement proceeds to the appropriate parties anywhere from one month to three months after he received the checks.

In Statewide Grievance Committee v. McKinney, No.CV 9045084,1990 WL 269253, (Conn.Super. Jul, 12, 1990), an attorney was hired to prepare a quit claim deed for his client. The court held that the attorney violated Rule 1.3 by failing to record the quit claim deed on the land records and to forward the deed to the client.

An attorneyÁs failure to respond to a motion to dismiss (i.e., by filing a memorandum of law in opposition to the motion) and failure to inform his client that the case had been dismissed is violative of Rule 1.3. Statewide Grievance Committee v. Faille, No. 381581, 1990 WL 277466 (Conn. Super. Oct. 2, 1990).

Carcello v. TJX Companies, Inc., 192 F.R.D. 61 (D.Conn. 2000) cited the Comments to Conn. Rule 1.3 stating, in part, Ë[p]erhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. ... Even when the clientÁs interests are not affected in substance, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyerÁs trustworthiness.Ó Carcello, 192 F.R.D. at 65.