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

What Experienced Attorneys Know About Relating to Opposing Counsel

The following is a guest blog post by Anabella Q. Bonfa. Ms. Bonfa is a litigator with Wellman & Warren LLP and has built a reputation for handling business and partnership disputes, theft of trade secrets, and unfair competition. She lectures extensively on trade secrets, networking, and using social media to develop business.

In the last year, attorney professionalism has been a hot topic. Courts are issuing sanctions more than ever against attorneys who engage in abusive and inappropriate, or even discourteous, behavior in and out of the court room. Experienced attorneys know the reasons to consider your level of professionalism in law practice—and what it can cost if you don’t. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

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

Spell Out the Effective Date of Your Fee Agreement

Every contract for legal services should contain a clause specifying the date the agreement will become effective. This date establishes the beginning of the attorney-client relationship and marks the beginning of the attorney’s fiduciary duties toward the client. 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

What to Tell Clients When Discovery Starts

starting discovery responsesOnce discovery starts, you’ll need to contact your client to help with responses. Here’s a sample letter to explain what is happening and what you need from your client. Continue reading

Who Will Handle Your Law Practice If You Can’t?

decide who will handle your law practice if you have an emergencyNo one likes to think about it, but sole practitioners should take some time to plan for what will happen in the event of their death or disability. Do you have a plan for who will handle your practice if the need arises? Continue reading