On May 10, JLAP (Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program) and the ISBA (Indiana State Bar Association) co-sponsored a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) program titled “Ethical Application of the Attorney Surrogate Rule.” The day began with emcee Dave Remondini, Chief Deputy Executive Director, Division of State Court Administration, Indiana Supreme Court, leading participants through an entertaining, informative, and well-received round of “Attorney Surrogate Fact or Crap.” One participant commented, “I enjoyed the entertaining way this information was presented. It was thought-provoking but fun, and created a sense of camaraderie with the presenters and the attendees.”
Ted Waggoner, chair of ISBA’s Attorney Surrogate Rule Special Committee, took the group through a brief primer on the basics of the Attorney Surrogate Rule. He explained that prior to enactment of the rule in 2008 there was no formal process to protect clients when an attorney became unable to maintain the law practice. The rule creates a system for attorneys to select and record their own attorney surrogate during the annual registration process. The rule also provides guidance and immunity to an attorney who is acting as a surrogate. The attorney is protected from civil suit for any actions or omissions in their role as a surrogate, absent intentional wrongdoing.
After an interactive panel discussion, attendees broke into small groups to brainstorm issues that might not be addressed by the rule and ways to improve the process. Some of the topics included:
- tracking Attorney Surrogate appointments
- handling cases in federal court
- dealing with Attorney Surrogate conflicts of interest
- the compensation of Attorney Surrogates
JLAP and the ISBA provided attendees with the ISBA’s “Indiana Attorney Surrogate Rule Best Practices and Forms.”
Attendees were asked to evaluate the program, including the information shared during the session and the ISBA materials. They indicated that they felt much better prepared to create a plan to protect their own clients and to assist in the event that they are asked to serve as an attorney surrogate. JLAP hopes to repeat the program in the future. A common refrain was the need for more Indiana attorneys who are knowledgeable about the attorney surrogate rule.