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Rule would allow fee-shifting for lawyer’s GAL

Under a proposed rule change, some lawyers involved in impairment proceedings with the Virginia State Bar would have to foot the bill for a guardian ad litem appointed by the bar’s Disciplinary Board.

The VSB Committee on Lawyer Discipline approved proposed rule amendments Feb. 8 that would allow the Disciplinary Board to assess GAL fees and costs against the respondent lawyer when the GAL was appointed by the board.

Under discipline rules, when the board schedules an impairment hearing, the board must appoint a GAL to represent the lawyer at the hearing unless the lawyer has his own counsel. A GAL also would be appointed in a misconduct matter if the unrepresented lawyer already had been determined to be impaired, according to Bar Counsel Edward L. Davis.

The assessment of GAL fees and costs against the lawyer would be subject to the discretion of the Disciplinary Board, according to the language of the proposed rule amendments.

Any comments should be submitted in writing to Karen A. Gould, Executive Director, Virginia State Bar, at 1111 E. Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, VA 23219-0026 or publiccomment@vsb.org, no later than the end of the business day on March 30.