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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.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


South Carolina Legal Ethics

1.3   Rule 1.3 Diligence

1.3:100   Comparative Analysis of South Carolina Rule

Primary SC References: SC Rule 1.3. See also SC Rule 1.1 (competence)
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

1.3:101      Model Rule Comparison

South Carolina Rule 1.3 and its comments are identical to Model Rule 1.3.

1.3:102      Model Code Comparison

Rule 1.3 did not have an exact counterpart in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

1.3:200   Diligence and "Zeal"

Primary SC References: SC Rule 1.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:401, ALI-LGL 28, Wolfram 10.3

[See 1.3:300]

1.3:300   Promptness

Primary SC References: SC Rule 1.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:401, ALI-LGL 28, Wolfram 10.3

The failure to pursue diligently the objectives of the client is a frequent ground for lawyer discipline. The range of possible misconduct constituting a breach of the duty of diligence extends from neglect on the part of the lawyer to a failure to pursue a matter because of a mistaken belief by the lawyer that the representation had ended. Neglect is not defined by any absolute passage of time. Lawyers have been disciplined for neglecting matters for as long as eight years, In re Davis, 276 S.C. 532, 280 S.E.2d 644 (1981), or for as short a time as two months, In re Ballard, 298 S.C. 324, 380 S.E.2d 813 (1989). The client is often prejudiced because of the lawyer's delay, such as by dismissal of the client's case, see In re Craig, 317 S.C. 295, 454 S.E.2d 314 (1995), but a lawyer can be disciplined for neglect even in the absence of clear prejudice. See In re Jones, 313 S.C. 9, 437 S.E.2d 10 (1993); In re Burgess, 279 S.C. 44, 302 S.E.2d 325 (1983). Discipline for lack of diligence or neglect has been imposed in both litigation and transactional matters. E.g. In re Rast, 337 S.C. 588, 524 S.E.2d 619 (1999) (general failure to pursue litigation matter); In re Thompson, 310 S.C. 461, 427 S.E.2d 644 (1993) (lawyer failed to pay taxes as part of real estate representation and neglected for more than a year to remind client to return document needed to obtain title insurance).