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November 1, 2013
Board to get medical lien rule in December

A final tweak to the comments of Bar Rule 4-1.5 has been presented to the Board of Governors and the final rule and comment amendment on contingency fees and settling liens in personal injury cases will come to the board for approval at its December meeting.

Rules Committee Chair John Alpizar presented the amendments to the rule and comments, which have been considered and revised over several months, at the board’s October meeting.

The latest modification to the comment clarifies the intent that if the original attorney with the contingency contract refers out work related to settling liens, then the original attorney may not receive any additional fee or compensation related to that lien work.

The Bar had originally proposed a rule amendment allowing lien and subrogation work to be referred out to another attorney under a reverse contingency fee agreement. But the Supreme Court rejected that and held that the original lawyer was responsible for handling that work under the terms of the contingency contract.

The revised amendment proposed by the Bar allows for the referral in “extraordinary” cases. Board members have expressed concerns that handling liens and subrogation claims is an increasingly complex area and in some cases the original attorney will need outside help to get the best result for the client.

On another matter, Alpizar also presented on first reading four changes to Clients’ Security Fund rules and regulations. Those include clarifying when investment advice given by an attorney qualified under the program and allowing otherwise confidential information to be shared with authorities conducting a criminal investigation.

[Revised: 01-13-2014]