A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.
N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-302
Committee commentary. -
Dilatory practices bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Although there will be occasions when a lawyer may properly seek a postponement for personal reasons, it is not proper for a lawyer to routinely fail to expedite litigation solely for the convenience of the advocates. Nor will a failure to expedite be reasonable if done for the purpose of frustrating an opposing party's attempt to obtain rightful redress or repose. It is not a justification that similar conduct is often tolerated by the bench and bar. The question is whether a competent lawyer acting in good faith would regard the course of action as having some substantial purpose other than delay. Realizing financial or other benefit from otherwise improper delay in litigation is not a legitimate interest of the client.
[Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-029, effective November 3, 2008.].
ANNOTATIONS Compiler's notes. - The old ABA Comment was replaced by the 2008 committee commentary. Duty of attorney to initiate essential steps in action. - When one contracts with an attorney for legal services, he or she is entitled to expect that the attorney will take action of some sort, and if more information is needed from the client in order to proceed, it is the attorney's responsibility to notify the client; it is not the client's responsibility to initiate all inquiries to the attorney in order to insure that essential steps are being taken. Failure by an attorney to do so violates this and other rules. In re Carrasco, 1987-NMSC-089, 106 N.M. 294, 742 P.2d 506. Attorney's failure to file an answer to a URESA action filed against his client violated Rules 6-101(A)(3) and 7-101(A)(1)-(3) NMRA of the Code of Professional Responsibility (now Rules 16-103 and 16-302 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct). In re Gallegos, 1986-NMSC-058, 104 N.M. 496, 723 P.2d 967. Attorney's failure to docket an appeal and lying to his client for seven years about the status of the appeal violated numerous rules and warranted indefinite suspension from practice. In re Roberts, 1995-NMSC-037, 119 N.M. 769, 895 P.2d 669. Counsel's dilatory strategy warranted suspension. - An indefinite suspension from the practice of law was warranted where defense counsel waited three years to file a notice of appeal for a client who was convicted of first-degree murder because counsel did not want the case transferred to appellate counsel. Counsel's dilatory strategy impeded his client from obtaining the full legal protections to which he was entitled under the criminal justice system. In re Salazar, 2019-NMSC-010. Indefinite suspension warranted. - Indefinite suspension was warranted because of an attorney's violation of this rule and other rules, such as Rule 16-101 NMRA, by failing to provide competent representation; Rule 16-103 NMRA, by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client; Rule 16-104 NMRA, by failing to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and failing to respond to reasonable requests for information; Rule 16-116(D) NMRA, by failing to surrender papers and property to which the client was entitled at the termination of the representation; and Rules 16-804(C), (D) and (H) NMRA, by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and by engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. In re Lally, 1999-NMSC-003, 126 N.M. 566, 973 P.2d 243. Indefinite suspension was warranted because of attorney's violation of this rule and other rules, such as Rule 16-101 NMRA, by failing to provide competent representation; Rule 16-105 NMRA, by charging an excessive fee; Rule 16-303(A)(1) NMRA, by making an untrue statement of material fact to a tribunal; Rule 16-304(D) NMRA, by failing to comply with a discovery request by an opposing party; Rule 16-505(A) NMRA, by practicing law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates regulations; and Rule 16-804(C), (D) and (H) NMRA, by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, and misrepresentation, by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and by engaging in conduct that adversely reflects upon his fitness to practice law. In re Righter, 1999-NMSC-009, 126 N.M. 730, 975 P.2d 343. Rule violated. In re Dawson, 2000-NMSC-024, 129 N.M. 369, 8 P.3d 856. Deferred suspension from practice for two years, subject to prescribed terms and conditions, was warranted for an attorney because his failure to properly pursue his client's criminal appeal violated this rule, by failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite the appeal, and Rule 16-101 NMRA, by failing to provide competent representation to his client; Rule 16-103 NMRA, by failing to act diligently and promptly on his client's behalf; Rule 16-804(D) NMRA, by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and Rule 16-804(H) NMRA, by engaging in conduct which reflected adversely on his fitness to practice law. In re Neal, 2001-NMSC-007, 130 N.M. 139, 20 P.3d 121.