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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New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
Comment - Rule 1.15
The Court, with two revisions, has adopted the recommendation of the Debevoise Committee, which in turn differs somewhat from the ABA-approved version of this rule. The Court deleted from the Debevoise Committee recommendation the provision that would have permitted clients' funds to be maintained in another state with the consent of the client, instead requiring the funds to be maintained in New Jersey accounts.
There is no doubt that a lawyer, as pointed out by the ABA and the Kutak Commission, should hold the property of others "with the care required of a professional fiduciary." This rule details that requirement by defining the obligations of the attorney as to the holding of property of clients or third persons. It requires, inter alia, that attorneys utilize trust accounts for the funds of clients, echoing the mandate of R. 1:21-6(a), as well as holding separate other client property. See In re Lehet, 95 N.J. 466, 468 (1984); In re Jacob, 95 N.J. 132 (1984). The Court has added paragraph (d), emphasizing compliance with the recordkeeping provisions of R. 1:21-6.
The rule also imposes a duty upon the attorney to notify the client upon receipt of funds or property in which the client has an interest and in most cases to deliver that property to the client promptly. It further contains provisions for handling disputed interests in property.