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

In-house ethics.

Tracking Proposed Revisions to California’s Rules of Professional Responsibility

California’s Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Responsibility has proposed 68 new and amended rules for attorneys, and is seeking public comment on the  proposed rules.  California is the only state that whose professional responsibility rules do not track the ABA Model Rules.  The Commission has issued an Executive Summary detailing the proposed and amended rules, comments, and dissenting views.  The Commission also issued a detailed list of rule revisions considered, but rejected.  Among other things, the proposed rules include suggested revisions to rules related to personal relationships with clients, conflicts imputed through a law firm, attorney’s fees, and handling clients with diminished capacity.  The public comment period expires September 27.

5 Legal Ethics Questions for Your In-House Legal Team

There is an emerging consensus that the role of in-house legal departments is changing dramatically, and these changes raise significant legal ethics issues for in-house legal teams.  The workload for in-house lawyers, which has been substantial for some time, is increasing in many industries, as in-house lawyers navigate significant increases in regulatory issues and compliance.  And the composition of work handled by in-house lawyers is changing: a significant amount substantive work that was previously referred to outside counsel is now being handled internally in corporate legal departments by in-house lawyers.  These changes are likely to continue, and to accelerate, because in-house lawyers are more cost-effective for certain matters, more closely connected to the legal issues and principals at the company, and more immersed in the details of the subject businesses.  But as the role of in-house attorneys continues to evolve, it is critical to consider the legal ethics implications for the attorneys on your in-house legal team.More

Keeping Up with Evolving Attorney Competence Requirements

The Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility of the State Bar of California earlier this year issued a detailed advisory Opinion on the scope of an attorney’s duties of competence in connection with technology issues in litigation, specifically regarding electronically stored information (“ESI”) and e-discovery.

Formal Opinion No. 2015-193 provides that an attorney has an ongoing and evolving duty of competence as technology evolves, including remaining aware of relevant technology and changes that may impact litigation. At a minimum, competence in this context requires a basic understanding of e-discovery and ESI, sufficient for an attorney to identify the issues and processes required to comply with the rules and to protect client interests and information. But, depending on the circumstances, competence may also require a heightened technological knowledge, and the ability to discern when outside or expert assistance is required to manage ESI in discovery.More