3.02 Minimizing the Burdens and Delays of Litigation
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In the course of litigation, a lawyer shall not take a position that unreasonably increases the costs or other burdens of the case or that unreasonably delays resolution of the matter.
1. This Rule addresses those situations where a lawyer or the lawyer's client perceive the client's interests as served by conduct that delays resolution of the matter or that increases the costs or other burdens of a case. Because such tactics are frequently an appropriate way of achieving the legitimate interests of the client that are at stake in the litigation, only those instances that are unreasonable are prohibited. As to situations where such tactics are inconsistent with the client's interests, see Rule 1.01. As to those where the lawyer's conduct is motivated primarily by his desire to receive a larger fee, see Rule 1.04 and Comment, paragraph 6 thereto.
2. A lawyer's obligations under this Rule are substantially fulfilled by complying with Rules 3.01, 3.03, and 3.04 as supplemented by applicable rules of practice or procedure. See paragraph 4 to the Comment to Rule 3.01.
3. Dilatory practices indulged in merely for the convenience of lawyers bring the administration of justice into disrepute and normally will be unreasonable within the meaning of this Rule. See also Rule 1.01(b) and (c) and paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Comment thereto. This Rule, however, does not require a lawyer to eliminate all conflicts between the demands placed on the lawyer's time by different clients and proceedings. Consequently, it is not professional misconduct either to seek (or as a matter of professional courtesy, to grant) reasonable delays in some matters in order to permit the competent discharge of a lawyer's multiple obligations.
4. Frequently, a lawyer seeks a delay in some aspect of a proceeding in order to serve the legitimate interests of the client rather than merely the lawyer's own interests. Seeking such delays is justifiable. For example, in order to represent the legitimate interests of the client effectively, a diligent lawyer representing a party named as a defendant in a complex civil or criminal action may need more time to prepare a proper response than allowed by applicable rules of practice or procedure. Similar considerations may pertain in preparing responses to extensive discovery requests. Seeking reasonable delays in such circumstances is both the right and the duty of a lawyer.
5. On the other hand, a client may seek to have a lawyer delay a proceeding primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring another. Under this Rule, a lawyer is obliged not to take such an action. See also Rule 3.01. It is not a justification that similar conduct is often tolerated by the bench and the 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 undertaken for the purpose of harassing or malicious injuring. The fact that a client realizes a financial or other benefit from such otherwise unreasonable delay does not make that delay reasonable.
Unreasonable Costs and Other Burdens of Litigation
6. Like delay, increases in the costs or other burdens of litigation may be viewed as serving a wide range of interests of the client. Many of these interests are entirely legitimate and merit the most stringent protection. Litigation by its very nature often is costly and burdensome. This Rule does not subject a lawyer to discipline for taking any actions not otherwise prohibited by these Rules in order to fully and effectively protect the legitimate interests of a client that are at stake in litigation.
7. Not all conduct that increases the costs or other burdens of litigation, however, can be justified in this manner. One example of such impermissible conduct is a lawyer who counsels or assists a client in seeking a multiplication of the costs or other burdens of litigation as the primary purpose, because the client perceives himself as more readily able to bear those burdens than is the opponent, and so hopes to gain an advantage in resolving the matter unrelated to the merits of the client's position.