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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.

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Kentucky Legal Ethics

1.3  Rule 1.3 Diligence

1.3:100 Comparative Analysis of Kentucky Rule

1.3:101 Model Rule Comparison

In 1989, the Kentucky Supreme Court adopted as KRPC 1.3 the exact language of MR 1.3.  The commentary is nearly the same.  MR 1.3, Comment [5], however, provides that in the case of sole practitioners, "the duty of diligence may require that each sole practitioner prepare a plan" to provide for the possibility of that sole practitioner's death or disability.

1.3:102 Model Code Comparison

DR 6-101(A)(3) required that a lawyer not "[n]eglect a legal matter entrusted to him." EC 6-4 stated that a lawyer should "give appropriate attention to his legal work." Canon 7 stated that "a lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law." DR 7-101(A)(1) provided that "A lawyer shall not intentionally ... fail to seek the lawful objectives of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary Rules...." DR 7-101(A)(3) provided that a lawyer "shall not intentionally ... [p]rejudice or damage his client during the course of the professional relationship...."

1.3:200 Diligence and "Zeal"

A lawyer suld exercise professional discretion to pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition and obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer.  KRPC 1.3, Comment [1].  The lawyer may take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client's case or endeavor.  KRPC 1.3, Comment [1].  A lawyer should act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client, and with zeal in advocacy upon the client's behalf. KRPC 1.3, Comment [1].  A lawyer should commit to carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client.  KRPC 1.3, Comment [3].

Suspension or disbarment from practice of law was appropriate in the following cases where the attorney failed to proceed with diligence and promptness: Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Chinn, 84 S.W.3d 458 (Ky. 2002); Kaplan v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 76 S.W.3d 921 (Ky. 2002); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Zimmerman, 69 S.W.3d 465 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Turnbull, 66 S.W.3d 697 (Ky. 2002); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Chinn, 64 S.W.3d 289 (Ky. 2002); Reeves v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 60 S.W.3d 552 (Ky. 2001); Trumbo v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 60 S.W.3d 545 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n. v. Basinger, 53 S.W.3d 92 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Taylor, 44 S.W.3d 777 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Cartee, 39 S.W.3d 28 (Ky. 2001); Manchester v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 34 S.W.3d 808 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Turnbull, 31 S.W.3d 926 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Laing, 24 S.W.3d 664 (Ky. 2000); Rampulla v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 17 S.W.3d 895 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Basinger, 17 S.W.3d 893 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Trumbo, 14 S.W.3d 921 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Association v. Taylor, 997 S.W.2d 464 (Ky. 1999);  Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Neal, 986 S.W.2d 156 (Ky. 1999); Lookofsky v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 982 S.W.2d 670 (Ky. 1998); Sykes v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 968 S.W.2d 90 (Ky. 1998); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Hatche, 965 S.W.2d 166 (Ky. 1998).

An attorney's failure to appear to defend a client constitutes a violation of commitment to diligence.  See Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Keesee, 939 S.W.2d 877 (Ky. 1997); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Devers, 936 S.W.2d 89 (Ky. 1996);  Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Donsky, 924 S.W.2d 257 (Ky. 1996); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Cowden, 727 S.W.2d 403 (Ky. 1987).

1.3:300 Promptness

Aside from a commitment to good business, a client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions, and for those reasons an attorney should proceed promptly.  KRPC 1.3, Comment [2].  In Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Hartlage, 64 S.W.3d 814 (Ky. 2002), the court held that an attorney's medical conditions did not excuse her from complying with Rules of Professional Conduct, and thus a one-year suspension was warranted for her failure to return phone calls and failure to notify two medical malpractice clients that their actions were dismissed for failure to prosecute.

Examples where attorney's filing delay or failure warranted attorney suspension: Yopp v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 64 S.W.3d 287 (Ky. 2002); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Yopp, 51 S.W.3d 867 (Ky. 2001); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Hardy, 24 S.W.3d 667 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Stevenson, 19 S.W.3d 112 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Losey, 14 S.W.3d 911 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Zimmerman, 11 S.W.3d 47 (Ky. 2000); Scalf v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 11 S.W.3d 34 (Ky. 2000); Gilliam v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 8 S.W.3d 571 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Stevenson, 2 S.W.3d 789 (Ky. 1999); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Stevenson, 999 S.W.2d 714 (Ky. 1999); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Mandello, 986 S.W.2d 897 (Ky. 1999); Broadway v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 979 S.W.2d 112 (Ky. 1998);  James v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 973 S.W.2d 844 (Ky. 1998); Morse v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 961 S.W.2d 798 (Ky. 1998).

Attorneys are guilty of ethical violations warranting suspension when they fail to proceed with due diligence in connection with a settlement.  See Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Foree, 983 S.W.2d 509 (Ky. 1999); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Richards, 796 S.W.2d 363 (Ky. 1990); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Bailiff, 794 S.W.2d 638 (Ky. 1990); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Riggs, 794 S.W.2d 171 (Ky. 1990).

An attorney is guilty of ethical violations and is generally placed on suspension for failing to proceed within period of statute of limitations.  See Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Carrithers, 64 S.W.3d 290 (Ky. 2002); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Greene, 63 S.W.3d 182 (Ky. 2002);  James v. Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 13 S.W.3d 925 (Ky. 2000); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Stevenson, 11 S.W.3d 43 (Ky. 2000);  Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Wells, 967 S.W.2d 585 (Ky. 1998); Kentucky Bar Ass'n v. Newcomer, 960 S.W.2d 464 (Ky. 1998).