Current and Timely Information and Analysis About
California Attorney Ethics in Practice

Considering Litigation Funding? Ask Some Questions.

Litigation funding appears to be receiving increased attention and it is often presented as a way for parties and attorneys to mitigate the risk of large and risky cases.  If true, this would be a good thing, right?  Certainly many parties who have meritorious cases decline to bring them because they, or their attorneys, cannot fund them.  By facilitating valid litigation, litigation funding can serve an important purpose.  But any attorney considering litigation funding has to ask some serious questions before committing.More

How to Stay on Top of New Rules Affecting Your Practice

Several significant amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure became effective on December 1, changing obligations for attorneys and parties in civil litigation in federal court.  Significant amendments to California’s Code of Civil Procedure, affecting demurrer procedure, 998 offers, peremptory challenges, expedited trials in limited jurisdiction cases, among other changes, also took effect this year.  These changes have the potential to be quite important, ranging from duties of the attorneys and parties to limit the scope of discovery to duties to preserve electronically stored information, which is an emerging change that heightens the competence obligations of attorneys dealing with this technology.  Litigators know that significant amendments to the federal rules are rare, but even small revisions have the potential to dramatically change how their cases are litigated.  From a practice management perspective, here’s how to make sure your firm has the right systems and procedures in place to monitor and to incorporate new rules into your practice in a comprehensive way.More

California Courts Giveth Pro Hac Vice Admission. . .and Taketh Away

An emerging trend suggests that California courts are becoming more strict in enforcing the technical rules for pro hac vice admission, and more restrictive in granting pro hac vice admissions for non-California attorneys who repeatedly appear here.  The California Bar has long been known as relatively strict about practicing law in California: it has no reciprocity with any other state bar, and the definition of “practicing law” in California can be read to include virtually anything beyond a short flight layover.  Recent examples provide some anecdotal evidence that California courts now are becoming more strict about pro hac vice admissions.More

5 Reasons to Seek Independent Outside Ethics Counsel

Attorneys tend to view ethics compliance as something very personal, and firms correctly views ethics issues as an internal matter.  Attorneys would not hesitate to engage outside counsel if a legal malpractice claim arose, but many do not yet have dedicated outside ethics counsel to advise as part of ongoing daily firm operations.  Increasingly, there are compelling reasons for attorneys and firms to engage outside independent ethics counsel, as a confidential resource in the event that an ethical issue arises, to advise on ethics compliance systems, and to help prevent ethics problems.More

5 Ethics Considerations for Alternative Fee Arrangements

Alternative fee arrangements are fashionable at the moment.  Clients, at least, appear keen to structure outside counsel fees based on a variety of arrangements, some that share risks, some that create incentives for certain outcomes, and others that encourage efficiency.  Many attorneys are less than enthused about alternative fee arrangements, perhaps viewing them as new methods for the old practice of reducing outside counsel fees.  It turns out that both attorneys and clients have reason to be cautious when entering alternative fee arrangements, given the potential ethical issues that may be implicated.More