We previously discussed Assembly Bill 1515, which would bring California into the modern ages regarding the deposit of advance fees into a trust account. Previously, the California Rules Revision Commission had declined to include such a requirement in the now-pending draft of new rules. But it appears that the State Bar is getting on board with the legislature's approach. Perhaps one of our California readers can clarify, but here is what a committee of the State Bar trustees just did. (A vote by the full Board of Trustees will take place tomorrow.) (h/t: David Cameron Carr's KafkaEsq.)
The Board Operations Committee of the State Bar Board of Trustees voted the following resolution today at its meeting in San Francisco.
RESOLVED, that upon the recommendation of the Board Committee on Operations, the Board hereby agrees to be the sponsor of Assembly Bill 1515, with the understanding that the following elements are contained in the bill:
• Adds duty for attorney to deposit into client trust account advance fees for legal services and to withdraw only when earned •
• Includes “fixed” or “flat” fees •
• Permits fixed or flat fees to be earned and withdrawn in stages if agreement specifies the stage and amounts •
• Permits exemption for advance fees in criminal and bankruptcy cases, where services involve representation in court •
• Permits the Board to add an exemption
And that staff and legislative advocates continue to work with all interested parties to resolve concerns.