How to Drop a Prospective Client Who Doesn’t Pay Your Retainer

Thumbs down icon for turning down a clientYou meet with a prospective client and explain that you’ll need a initial retainer fee to get started. The prospective client doesn’t pay the fee and you’re pretty sure this will be a pattern, so you decide not to take on this person as a client. Now you’ll need to inform him or her in writing.

Continue reading

3 Ways to Deal with Client Conflicts

attorney's hand up in stop gesture because there's a conflict of interest between clientsA prospective client comes to you and you discover that there’s a conflict of interest with one of your current or former clients. Or while you’re representing a client, a conflict arises with another client. You’ve got three ways to deal with these types of situations, depending on when the conflict comes to light.  Continue reading

How to Build an Effective Ethical Wall

With attorney movement on the rise between firms, it’s critical that attorneys and firms pay close attention to conflicts of interest that can come up when attorneys in practice for years are integrated into new firms. When a conflict is identified, firms can use ethical walls to prevent breaches of fiduciary duties and big hits to the firm, including disgorgement of attorney fees, malpractice claims, and loss of clients. Continue reading

Don’t Let Your Ethical Duties Get Lost in the Cloud

The following is a guest blog post by Perry L. Segal, an attorney and management consultant at Charon Law, Redwood City. Mr. Segal has over 25 years of combined experience in law and technology. He is co-chair of the California Council of State Bar Sections, special advisor and past-chair of the Law Practice Management and Technology Section Executive Committee, and a member of the bar’s Social Media Task Force.

Few technologies create more puzzlement and worry for attorneys than “the cloud.” Attorneys, quite reasonably, want to know how they can stay on the right side of their ethical obligations when it comes to using it. As always, attorneys need to practice in accordance with the standard of reasonable care and effort. But there’s a caveat: Attorneys will be charged with the standard of an attorney who is competent in the understanding and use of technology. What does this actually mean? And as a practical matter, what can an attorney do? Continue reading

Does an Ethical Breach Bar an Attorney from Getting Fees?

The short answer: Yes, under California law, an attorney’s ethical breach of duty may disqualify that attorney from all or part of a fee award. But there’s a possible exception. Continue reading

A Conflicts Check Can Save You

thinkstockphotos-490180254A global law firm recently embarrassed itself by not doing a simple conflicts check. As Joe Patrice in his blog post for Above the Law explains, Dentons’ attorneys shot off a letter demanding a retraction from CNN for a story on possible ethics issues with Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, before a “simple conflict check” revealed that Dentons also represents CNN. You can do better than that. Create a conflicts check system and use it. Continue reading

Implicit Bias: Solutions Not Guilt

ThinkstockPhotos-489205086The following is a guest blog post by Dawn Silberstein, a San Francisco attorney whose practice areas include insurance coverage, construction defect, and equal employment law. Ms. Silberstein became interested in the impact of implicit bias while studying psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

As attorneys, we want to see ourselves as fair, equitable, and rational, yet studies show that despite our best intentions none of us is free from bias. Implicit bias refers to unconsciously held bias that doesn’t necessarily reflect our conscious beliefs. Here’s a brief look at how implicit bias is measured, how it impacts our decision making, and what we can do about it. Continue reading

What’s Confidential Among Co-Clients?

158997762Whenever you represent multiple clients on the same subject matter, there are confidentiality issues that can come up—and trip you up. Continue reading

Read This Before You Go the Contingency Fee Route

ThinkstockPhotos-135547447Among the several alternatives to the traditional hourly fee arrangement, contingency fees have been commonly used for decades. Under a contingent fee agreement, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will receive a particular percentage of the client’s recovery or of the savings obtained for the client as a fee for legal services, if there is a recovery. The attorney takes on the risk with the potential for significant reward. Not surprisingly, there are statutory requirements for these types of agreements—and failing to comply with them is risky, too. Continue reading

Confidentiality Among Co-Clients?

ThinkstockPhotos-97050627Whenever you’re representing multiple clients with respect to the same subject matter, make sure to address the issue of confidentiality right at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship—in fact, you should cover it in your fee agreement. Continue reading