Keeping Your Fee Deposit Topped Up

client should top off fee deposit like a gas tankDo you know how to keep your client’s fee deposit from emptying out as you earn the fees? Here are two ways to do it. Continue reading

Lawyers Must Now Inform Clients about Mediation Confidentiality in Writing

The following is a guest blog post by Teddy (Theda) Snyder. Ms. Snyder is based in Los Angeles and conducts civil and workers compensation mediations throughout California.

Starting January 1, 2019, attorneys must ask clients to acknowledge in writing that they have been fully informed about the rules of mediation confidentiality. SB 954 amends Evidence Code §1122 and adds §1129 (Stats 2018, ch 350). You can create your own form, but you’ll probably use a version of the “safe harbor” form in §1129.

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Challenging CEQA Processing Fees

Complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is very expensive business. The costs of preparing a typical environmental impact report (EIR) range from $200,000 to more than $1 million. The lead agency incurs those costs initially, and then bills the project applicant a “reasonable fee” for reimbursement of those costs. See Pub Res C §21089(a). Project applicants irked by excessive fees may ask their attorney whether there’s any way to challenge a lead agency’s processing fees under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Would you know how to respond? Continue reading

How to Get a Witness to Start with the Basis for Opinion

lawyer asking judge to voir dire adverse witness on basis for her opinionCan the adverse party require that a witness on direct examination testify to the basis of his or her opinion before stating that opinion? Short answer, no. But there still may be a way to do it. Continue reading

5 Rules for Drafting Allegations in a Complaint

Complaints must include a statement of facts constituting a cause (or causes) of action. CCP §§425.10(a)(1), 430.10(e). For those new to litigation, you may be tempted to just get a complaint from a colleague and replace the allegations with your case’s facts. This can be risky if you don’t know the rules that apply to drafting allegations. Continue reading

Do This Before Getting a Mediator Involved with a Prenup

Mediators are increasingly involved in helping parties negotiate premarital agreements, or prenups, because mediation is a nonadversarial way to approach the process. But before your client uses a mediator, draft an agreement that covers the terms of mediation. Continue reading

5 Steps to Handling Nonresponsive Deposition Answers

Whether intentional or not, you may not get an answer to your question in a deposition. How you handle a nonresponsive answer should usually follow this five-step process. Continue reading

How to Respond to a Whistleblower

When it comes to a whistleblowing employee, how the employer responds can make all the difference. An inappropriate response can put an employer in legal jeopardy. Continue reading

Don’t Do This on Cross Examination

cross examining a witness

Many attorneys work through their nervousness by beginning their cross examination with taking the witness step by step through previous direct examination testimony. Then they turn to the hard job of true cross-examination. Here’s why you shouldn’t do this. Continue reading

Take Care: Headings Can Affect Contract Interpretation

As a general practice, section headings should be used to identify the general subject matter of each contract provision, making it easier for the reader. Section headings are very useful for ease of reference. They enable the reader to skim an agreement when searching for a particular provision or group of provisions. But headings can be a trap for the unwary—courts have used them to interpret the parties’ intent when a provision is ambiguous or misleading. Here’s how to protect yourself from the unintended consequences of headings. Continue reading