On November 7, 2017, the South Dakota Supreme Court considered a number of proposed modifications to the appendix to SDCL chapter 16-17, which sets forth the by-laws of the South Dakota State Bar, as well as amendments to SDCL 16-18-34.4 and the Rules of Professional Conduct.

  • First, Section 34 of the bylaws of the South Dakota State Bar has been amended to provide that electronic communication may be used in connection with all matters contemplated by the Bylaws.
  • Second, Section 35 has been amended to provide that meetings of the Board of Bar Commissioners may be held with less than required notice upon unanimous consent of the Commission.
  • Third, Section 36 has been amended to provide that any action required by law or required by the bylaws to be taken at a meeting of the Board of Bar Commissioners, or any action which may be taken at a meeting of the Commissioners, may be taken without a meeting if a consent in writing, setting forth the action so taken, shall be signed by all the commissioners, which has the same force and effect as a unanimous vote.
  • Fourth, Section 37 has been amended to provide that a Bar Commissioner must timely advise the Commission of a conflict of interest and sets forth the Commission’s options upon notice of a conflict of interest.

We do not know yet the outcome of two other proposed rule changes considered last week:

  • It had been proposed that SDCL 16-18-34.4 be amended to provide that persons placed on medical, rather that disability, inactive status under SDCL 16-19-48 or 16-19-92 shall not serve as a legal assistant in South Dakota.
  • It has also been proposed that Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires a lawyer to report another lawyer’s unethical conduct, be amended.  Under the amended version, the rule would not apply to information obtained by a lawyer or judge as a member of a committee, organization, or related group established or approved by the South Dakota State Bar or the South Dakota Supreme Court to assist lawyers, judges, or law students.  Furthermore, a member of an entity established to assist lawyers, judges, or law students would not be required to treat as confidential communications that cause him or her to believe a person intends or contemplates harming herself or himself or a reasonably identifiable person, and that the disclosure of that information to the potential victim is reasonably believed to be able to assist in preventing the harm.