Effective November 1, 2018, the State Bar of California has amended California Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 (former Rule 4-100) to establish new rules on handling flat fees. Under Cal Rules of Prof Cond 1.15(a), all funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm for the benefit of a client must be kept in a trust account. But there are a couple of exceptions.
The 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.
The 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.
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?
Given the decreasing time attorneys have for conducting voir dire, it can be very useful to investigate jurors with publicly available background information. Simply running Google searches can reveal an enormous amount of information about a potential juror in a short amount of time. This public information often will come from social media sources. As Ben Hancock reported in his article for Law.com, “social media profiles can present a trove of data points for jury selection…[but] researching jurors online while keeping on the right side of the judge and local ethics rules is hardly a straightforward exercise.”
An an attorney and an officer of the court, you sometimes have competing duties: to represent your clients zealously and to maintain respect for the court. When it comes to a disagreeable court ruling, you’ll need to make your strongest argument while remaining respectful to the judge. The key is to argue without arguing.
Common scenario: You do some work for a client and then pass off the client to another attorney, agreeing to split the attorney fees. Later you want to get your share of the fees. The Rules of Professional Conduct require that you get the client’s written consent to any fee-splitting agreement. Did you get the client’s consent right away, or are you now at the mercy of the other attorney?
The following is a guest blog post by Benjamin Scott. Ben is a solo estate planning attorney, a graduate of Concord Law School, a former high school physics teacher, and a father of three.
There are advantages of working another job while starting a solo law practice, but after a year of trying this experiment, I see the mistakes of trying to work two jobs.
The following is a guest blog post by April E. Frisby of Frisby Law. April is a corporate and securities transactional lawyer and an adjunct law professor at Whittier Law School.
Lawyers are often gun-shy when it comes to blogging, in part because of the ethical limits on advertising and solicitation by lawyers. But if you keep ethical considerations in mind, blogging can be a fun, cost-effective way to promote your practice.