11:19 AM

Ethics: Supreme Court adopts new Rule 5

Vol. 78, No. 4 / July - August 2022

In an order issued May 31, 2022, the Supreme Court of Missouri repealed and adopted a new Rule 5 pertaining to attorney disciplinary matters. Rule 5 had not been revised significantly since its adoption in 1995. These revisions were made in an effort to restructure the rule to reflect and clarify current disciplinary practices and procedures. The majority of changes to the rule are not substantive in nature. The changes include: 

  • Giving the chief disciplinary counsel and advisory committee the authority to issue guidance letters to lawyers regarding the rules of professional conduct despite a finding of insufficient probable cause;  
  • Allowing the chair of the advisory committee to exercise his or her discretion to permit the filing of an answer out of time upon a showing of excusable neglect; 
  • Authorizing hearings before a disciplinary panel to proceed virtually when in the public’s best interest;  
  • Requiring Missouri-licensed lawyers to self-report within 10 days of being disciplined in another jurisdiction or pleading guilty to or being convicted of any crime;  
  • Requiring lawyers suspended or disbarred to wind up their law practices within 15 days of the suspension or disbarment order and submit to the Court a verified certificate of compliance attesting to complete performance of all obligations under the rule, including notification of clients and delivering their law licenses to the clerk of this Court;  
  • Increasing the fee for a reinstatement petition to $1,000; and 
  • Clarifying that lawyers may provide confidential information to legal ethics counsel when seeking an informal ethics opinion, and legal ethics counsel has no duty to report possible Rule 4-8.3 violations when disclosures are made in the course of seeking an informal ethics opinion.

The full order, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, is available on the Missouri Courts website at courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=187056.