How the New Rules of Conduct Affect Your Social Media Use

lawyers using social media to advertiseThe following is a guest blog post by Renee Galente Stackhouse. Renee is the founder and trial lawyer at Stackhouse, APC, where she focuses on plaintiff’s personal injury and military defense in San Diego. She is the immediate past President of California Women Lawyers, President of the CWL Foundation, Chair of the CLA SSF Section, and sits on the Board of the San Diego County Bar Association.

Potential clients and referrals are out there on social media platforms and you can’t afford to ignore them. The new California Rules of Professional Conduct, effective November 1, 2018, take social media realities into account and require changes to the way lawyers use social media. 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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New Ethics Rules Weigh In on Flat Fees

new rules of professional conductThe following is a guest blog post by Megan Zavieh. Megan focuses her practice exclusively on attorney ethics, providing guidance to attorneys, representing attorneys facing State Bar discipline, podcasting, and writing extensively on ethics issues.

California’s new Rules of Professional Conduct, effective November 1, 2018, recognizes a trend in legal services billing—flat fees. Flat fees are becoming more common as an alternative to the traditional billable hour. As they rise in popularity outside of criminal law, the rules directly address them. Here’s what you need to know and do. Continue reading

Big Changes for CA Companies Using “Independent Contractors”

Photo of a delivery driver checking his deliveries in his van. Is he an employee or an independent contractor?Determining whether a California worker is an independent contractor or an employee has never been an exact science, with a lot riding on correct classification. But the California Supreme Court recently tried to simplify the issue by adopting a new “ABC” test for California, at least for claims under the IWC Wage Orders for minimum wage, overtime pay, and meal and rest period violations. Continue reading

3 New Rules Every Criminal Law Attorney Needs to Know

new rules of professional conductThe following is a guest blog post by Garrick Byers, known as the Statute Decoder because of his facility in interpreting statutes and rules. He is the chairperson of the California Public Defenders Association’s (CPDA’s) Ethics Committee, and is a former CPDA president. He is a criminal law specialist and a frequent speaker and writer on criminal law topics, including ethics. He was a public defender for 33 years and is currently in private practice, handling criminal law appeals, writs, motions, and case consultations.

The new California Rules of Professional Conduct, effective November 1, 2018, use the format and much of the substance of the ABA Model Rules. Here are three of the most important changes for prosecution and defense counsel. Continue reading

Highlights of the New California Professional Rules

new rules of professional conductThe following is a guest blog post by Merri A. Baldwin. Merri is a shareholder at Rogers Joseph O’Donnell P.C., where her practice focuses on attorney liability and conduct, including malpractice, State Bar discipline, ethics advice, motions to disqualify and sanctions defense. She is the former Chair of the California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct.  She teaches professional responsibility at Berkeley Law, and is a certified specialist in Legal Malpractice Law. 

In May, after several rounds and many years of drafting, editing, and consideration, the California Supreme Court approved comprehensive changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in California to take effect on November 1, 2018. These significant changes bring California rules more in line with the rest of the country.  Here are some highlights of the new rules. Continue reading

Endless Summons: No Statute of Limitations on Spouse’s Claim for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

blog em4.jpgThe appellate decision in Yeh v Tai (2017) 18 CA5th 953 completely misses the main issue in the case but still makes an important point about breach of fiduciary duty claims against a deceased spouse. Continue reading

Divorce Is Not Any Easier After Trump’s Tax Cut

wedding cake split apart to show divorce and split of assetsThe following is a guest post from Ed Lyman, a trial and appellate attorney at Walzer Melcher LLP who handles complex dissolution of marriage and domestic partnerships for high net worth individuals.

Family law attorneys and accountants are struggling to grasp the impact of the GOP’s tax overhaul on divorces. The biggest changes that affect divorcées is the repeal of various deductions, the creation of new ones, large tax cuts for business entities, and eliminating many exemptions. These changes require special attention when calculating alimony, child support, and division of marital assets. Continue reading

Just Passing Through: New Deduction for Business Income Expires in 2026

pass through tax benefit dollarsUnder new IRC §199A, business entity owners may be able to deduct 20 percent of passthrough income. This tax boon, which is set to sunset after December 31, 2025, has many lawyers wondering whether they might personally benefit.

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Alas Poor Urick: SLAPP-stick Comedy Relieves Probate Court Drama

Updated 2/1/18: In Gaynor v Bulen (Jan. 23, 2018, D070907) 2018 Cal App Lexis 53, the court held that a petition alleging that trust assets were improperly used in probate litigation was not a cause of action arising from protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. Although the alleged breach of loyalty may have been carried out by the filing of probate petitions, the petitioning activity itself was not the basis of the claim.

Despite its name, a statute designed to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) has been applied to a variety of private disputes, including probate proceedings, as a recent decision illustrates. Continue reading