Ethics Traps

ETHICS TRAPS FOR CALIFORNIA ATTORNEYS

MCLE Audits

The State Bar is now auditing 10% of the lawyers who are required to report MCLE compliance. If there is a discrepancy between your sworn compliance statement and your actual class work, you may be referred for a disciplinary prosecution. Mary Grace Guzman is well versed on the nuances of the issue.

Disability Access cases

The spike in access claims against small businesses has resulted in changes in the laws governing claims by disabled people. Attorneys who represent plaintiffs now have a series of steps that must be taken before suit is filed; there is even a Judicial Council form.

Joint Clients:

Many lawyers and judges assume that all multiple client relationships have automatic conflicts of interest. When there is no conflict of interest, a conflict consent may create liability when none truly exists. But when there is no conflict, it is advisable to have a written consent to joint representation.

Fee Agreements:

Do you know when your lien must comply with the business transaction rules? Do you know what special clauses are required when your fees are partially contingent and partially fixed?

Duties to Nonclients:

California attorneys can have fiduciary duties to prospective clients, opposing parties, witnesses, or heirs of your clients. If a third party pays the bill, duties to the client and the payor can be complex.

Lateral Transfers:

Attorneys from other states may be engaged in UPL - Unauthorized Practice of Law - while applying for a California license.

Law Firm Changes

When you move from one firm to another, or add a partner, or start planning for retirement, the business and ethics issues overlap in a very complicated way.

Trust Account Audits

The State Bar is planning to begin auditing attorney trust accounts. Does yours comply with the Rules and the Standards?

The Law Changes Daily

There are over one hundred appellate court rulings every year which govern the work of California lawyers. We read the State Bar Court Reporter, the published decisions of the California Courts of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court.

We also follow Federal cases that affect the practice of attorneys in California. The actions of attorneys can also be affected by published decisions of bankruptcy courts, Tax Court, and United State regulatory agencies. We make it our job to know the latest rulings, so we can get you the most up-to-date information possible.