Ethics in Brief

Previous Editions


  • 2/2/2009
    Disclosing Prior Relationships with Witnesses and/or Parties (Part 1 of 2)
  • 2/17/2009
    On René Descartes and Mortgage/Foreclosure Legal Services: Ethics Alert re Participating in Mortgage Modifications
  • 3/2/2009
    The Unseemly Grand Inquisitor: Disclosing Prior/Simultaneous Relationships with Witnesses and/or Parties (Part 2 of 2)
  • 3/16/2009
    Advance Conflict Waivers:  Can it be done?
  • 3/30/2009
    ABC, Inc. is my client but exactly who do I represent?
  • 4/13/2009
    Just How Broad is an Attorney’s Duty of Confidentiality Anyway? (Part 1 of 4)
  • 4/27/2009
    Attorney-Client Confidentiality and the Magic of Email (Part 2 of 4)
  • 5/11/2009
    Attorney-Client Confidentiality:  Damage Control Following Inadvertent Disclosure of Confidential Material (Part 3 of 4)
  • 5/26/2009
    Attorney-Client Confidentiality:  Respecting the Otherside’s Confidentiality (Part 4 of 4)
  • 6/8/2009
    The Ethics of Statutory Attorney Fee Waivers in Settlement Discussions
  • 6/22/2009
    Accepting an Assignment of the Right to Attorney Fee Award in Fee Agreements:  Can it be Done Ethically?
  • 7/6/2009
    Taking an Interest Adverse to the Client:  Part One of Three; Adverse Interests in the Fee Arrangement, A Trap for the Unwary Practitioner
  • 7/20/2009
    Taking an Interest Adverse to the Client: Part Two of Three; A Charging Lien for Hourly Legal Services Must Comply with Rule of Professional Conduct 3-300
  • 8/3/2009
    Taking an Interest Adverse to the Client, Part Three of Three: Business Dealings with Clients (Rule of Professional Conduct 3-300)
  • 8/17/2009
    Ethically Taking Steps to Protect Your Lien Rights in Settlement Proceeds when a Joint Check is Issued
  • 8/31/2009
    Should a Lawyer Advise a Client to Consider Moral and Other Considerations with Respect to the Subject of Representation?
  • 9/14/2009
    In Law Firm Breakups and Attorney Departures, the Client’s Interests Come First – Period.
  • 9/28/2009
    Is Double Billing Ethical? It Can Be, But Be Careful.
  • 10/13/2009
    Obtaining Full Releases and Civil Code Section 1542 Waivers in the Face of a Fee Dispute: Not as Straightforward as it Seems
  • 10/26/2009
    Ethical Walls: Normally, They Will Not Save a Firm from Vicarious Disqualification (Part 1 of 3)
  • 11/9/2009
    Ethical Walls and Vicarious Disqualification: Not all Ethical Walls in the Government Context Will Stand (Part 2 of 3)
  • 11/23/2009
    Ethical Walls and Vicarious Disqualification: The Movement Towards Possible Judicial Acceptance of Ethical Walls (Part 3 of 3)
  • 12/14/2009
    Communications With "Parties" Represented By Counsel



  • 1/11/2010
    New Disclosure Requirement re Lack of Malpractice Insurance


  • 2/1/2010
    Rule of Professional Conduct 3-120 (Sexual Relations With Client)
  • 2/16/2010
    Threats, Threats, Threats: Rule of Professional Conduct 5-100 (Threatening Criminal, Administrative, or Disciplinary Charges)
  • 3/1/2010
    Communications with Members of a Conditionally Certified Class Action Represented by Other Counsel (Rule of Professional Conduct 2-100)
  • 3/15/2010
    Geographic Scope of the Rule of Professional Conduct
  • 3/29/2010
    Should Your Firm’s Webpage Invite Potential Clients to Send You Information About Potential Matters?
  • 4/12/2010
    HUGE Development Regarding Ethical Walls: Court of Appeal rules that in the private firm to private firm context, a firm might be able to save itself from vicarious disqualification by using an ethics screen around the tainted attorney
  • 4/26/2010
    Overlooking the Fundamentals is Always a Dangerous Thing:  Attorneys can be Disciplined for Failing to ‘Uphold the Law’
  • 5/10/2010
    How Careful are You and Your Clients in Communicating via Email?
  • 6/7/2010
    How Admitting a Mistake can Save you from Malpractice
  • 6/21/2010
    Arguing Opposite Sides of the Same Legal Issue in Different Matters: Can it be Done Ethically?
  • 7/6/2010
    I Hereby Move We Eliminate the Rules of Professional Conduct:  Okay, Okay, I Do Not Really Mean It…
  • 7/19/2010
    “X & Associates,” “Y Law Group,” “Z Law Firm”: What’s in a Name Anyway?
  • 8/2/2010
    Does Using “Law Offices” Raise the Same Concerns as “X & Associates” or “X Law Group”?
  • 8/16/2010
    Listservs:  Ex Parte Communications with Judges and the Failure to Protect Client Confidences
  • 8/30/2010
    Use of Case Results in Attorney Advertisements
  • 9/13/2010
    Public Statements re Pending Cases:  Be Careful and Be Truthful
  • 9/27/2010
    No Way Out? Withdrawal and Confidentiality
  • 10/12/2010
    Website “Free Case Evaluations,” Visitor Inquiries, Disclaimers, and Other Problems
  • 10/25/2010
    Elephant Bites:  Nibbling on the Proposed New Rules of Professional Conduct
  • 11/22/2010
    The Client’s Right to Mandatory Fee Arbitration does not Trump an Arbitration Clause in an Attorney’s Fee Agreement”


  • 1/3/2011
    Jury Selection in the Criminal Trial - Protecting your Professional Integrity: What’s at Stake? (Part 1 of 2)
  • 1/18/2011
    Jury Selection in the Criminal Trial—Protecting your Professional Integrity: The Importance of a Good Record (Part 2 of 2)
  • 1/31/2011
    Recent Internet Scams Implicate Broad Ethical Considerations
  • 2/14/2011
    Attorney Client Privilege Does Not Cover Emails Where Client Uses Employer’s Computer and Email System to Communicate with Her Attorney about Legal Issues Against Her Employer
  • 3/14/2011
    A Shakespearean Whisper
  • 3/28/2011
    Clean Your Copies
  • 4/11/2011
    What’s Wrong with Seeking Cash Bonuses and Convictions? (Part 1 of 2)
  • 4/25/2011
    Seeking Cash Bonuses and Convictions Could Pose a Conflict of Interest (Part 2 of 2)
  • 5/23/2011
    Some Say That it is Better to Receive than to Give…Except, of Course, When Receiving Rule 4-400 Disciplinary Charges for Inappropriately Accepting Gifts From a Client
  • 6/6/2011
    Failure to Comply with Rule of Professional Conduct 3-300 Regarding Transactions with Clients—Even Where Transactions are Successful for the Client—Can Result in Denial of Quantum Merit Claim for Unpaid Fees
  • 7/18/2011
    Rule of Professional Conduct 5-120, Trial Publicity: What may be said out of court?
  • 8/1/2011
    Requiring Binding Mandatory Fee Arbitration in Attorney Fee Agreements is Unenforceable and Contrary to the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act
  • 8/15/2011
    Diamonds Are Forever. Conflict Waivers, Maybe Not.
  • 8/28/2011
    Attorney Client Privilege Remains Alive Even if Corporation is Barely Alive
  • 9/5/2011
    Recent Decision Reaffirms Attorneys’ Continued Obligation to Refrain From Taking Action Adverse to Former Clients
  • 9/26/2011
    Paying an Expert Under a Contingency Fee Arrangement is a Major No-No
  • 10/11/2011
    Aggressive Advocacy or Suppression of Evidence?
  • 10/24/2011
    No Privity? No Problem! Successor Representatives and the Attorney-Client Relationship
  • 11/7/2011
    The Heavy Burden in Piercing Your Opponents’ Attorney Client and Work Product Privileges is Again Confirmed
  • 11/21/2011
    Is it  Better to Seek Forgiveness Versus Ask For Permission?
  • 12/5/2011
    Appellate Sanctions: An Unreasonable Failure to Follow the Rules May be Sanctioned and Disciplined


  • 1/3/2012
    Duly-Appointed Agents, Including Attorneys, May Bind Principal for Settlement Purposes
  • 1/17/2012
    Limiting the Cost of Litigation, Ethically
  • 1/30/2012
    "Oh, what a tangled web we weave..."
  • 2/13/2012
    Attorneys Face Conflicting Authority in California in Deciding Whether or Not to Turn Over Attorney Work Product
  • 2/27/2012
    Message Received Loud and Clear: A Serious Lapse in Judgment Can Lead to Prosecutorial Error
  • 3/12/2012
    Medicare Reporting Requirements Make Settlement Even More Difficult
  • 3/26/2012
    Subpoenas to Clients
  • 4/9/2012
    Be Wary the Flat Fee
  • 4/23/2012
    Ninth Circuit Holds There Is No “Selective Waiver” of the Attorney-Client Privilege Under Federal Law
  • 5/7/2012
    Beware the Frivolous Appeal
  • 5/21/2012
    Beware: Ex Parte Communications Can Be Toxic
  • 6/4/2012
    Be Wary, Electronic Signatures Are No Replacement for the Real Thing if the Declarant Has Not Seen It
  • 6/18/2012
    Billing Statements: An Essential Client Relations Tool
  • 7/2/2012
    Limited Liability Partnerships - Insurance Requirements
  • 7/16/2012
    Legal Malpractice: An Overview On When The Limitation Period Commences to Run
  • 7/30/2012
    The Work Product Privilege and Discovery of Witness Lists
  • 8/13/2012
    9th Circuit: Ability to Pay Sanctions Matters
  • 8/27/2012
    State Bar Suspensions and the Unauthorized Practice of Law
  • 9/10/2012
    Practitioners Face Ethical Constraints in Proving Exceptions to the Attorney Client Privilege
  • 9/24/2012
    Criminal Defense: Client Representation Rights and Counsel's Duties
  • 10/9/2012
    Attorneys' Continuing Obligations to Clients Could Affect Malicious Prosecution Defenses
  • 10/22/2012
    Attorneys’ Duty of Candor to Courts Cannot Be Understated
  • 11/5/2012
    Could A Sanction Issued Against an Attorney Foretell a Trend of Impatience with Incivility?
  • 11/19/2012
    Analogies Intended to Illustrate “Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” May Lead to a Finding of Prosecutorial Error and Even Reversal
  • 12/3/2012
    Does a Client’s Agreement to Provide an Attorney with an Attorney’s Lien to Secure Attorney’s Compensation for Deferred Fees Improperly Interfere with the Client’s Right to Settle the Case?
  • 12/17/2012
    Can a Law Firm Recover Attorneys’ Fees Under a “Prevailing Party” Clause When the Firm is Represented by “Of Counsel?”


  • 1/28/2013
    Is a privilege log required to preserve the attorney client privilege log required to preserve the attorney client or work product privilege in California?
    The answer is less clear in light of recent amendments
  • 2/11/2013
    Attorney Obtains a Great Result for Client. But Client Gives an Attorney a Negative Review on Yelp. What Can You Do?
  • 2/25/2013
    Local Counsel Liability
  • 3/11/2013
    Bankruptcy Proceedings: Do Not Jeopardize Your Entitlement to Fees by Violating Rules
  • 3/25/2013
    Modifying Fee Agreements: Ethical Implications
  • 4/8/2013
    Are Redlining Errors Ethical Violations?
  • 4/22/2013
    Can Meritorious Objections Be Sanctionable Conduct?
  • 5/6/2013
    Be Wary of the Source of Your Fees
  • 5/20/2013
    Debtors Must Wait to Truly Get Their Fresh Start Due to Conflicts of Interest
  • 6/3/2013
    Some Statutes May Allow for Fee Recovery Without a Retention Agreement; To Avoid Litigating the Issue, Attorneys Should, at a Minimum, Advise All Interested Parties of Their Entitlement
  • 6/17/2013
    Anti-SLAPP Motions Brought in Lawsuits Against Attorneys: Constitutionally Protected Speech or Breach of an Attorneys’ Professional and Ethical Duties?
  • 7/1/2013
    Only An Actual Conflict Mandates Disqualification Under Rule 3-310(C)
  • 7/15/2013
    Once A Witness is Designated to Testify or Testifies, Information Once Privileged May No Longer Be Privileged
  • 7/29/2013
    Extortion or Aggressive Advocacy?
  • 8/12/2013
    Attorneys May be Disqualified From Representation Even When Both Former Clients Are Deceased
  • 9/9/2013
    Where an Insurer or Employer Offers to Pay Client’s Fees, But With a Different Attorney, Original Attorney Must Carefully Advise as to Consequences of Rejecting the Offer
  • 9/23/2013
    “The Privilege is Mine and Mine Alone,” Says the Client-Organization
  • 10/7/2013
    Arbitrator Required Disclosures:  Failure to Disclose Potential Bias Results in Vacating of Award
  • 10/21/2013
    Considerable Care Must Be Taken By An Attorney To Protect Attorney-Client Confidential Information During Discovery Of Client’s Electronically Stored Information (“ESI”)
  • 11/4/2013
    Novel Issue Decided in Recent San Diego Case Involving the Scope of the Attorney-Client Privilege
  • 11/18/2013
    Defendant in a Malicious Prosecution Case, an Associate Working Under Principal’s Supervision, May Not Avoid Liability Through a SLAPP Motion Even when the “associate is put into a difficult position by questioning a more experienced attorney’s choices.”
  • 12/16/2013
    Plagiarizing In Your Brief? Don’t Do It.


  • 1/6/2014
    The Nationwide Practice of Law—New Lawsuit Seeks to Expand General Admission to Federal Courts
  • 1/21/2014
    HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule: One Year Anniversary and Impact on Attorneys as Business Associates
  • 2/3/2014
    Failure to Disclose Post-Confirmation Asset to Chapter 13 Trustee Results in Sanctions Against Debtor’s Attorney
  • 2/18/2014
    The Questions that Really Make Me Sweat
  • 3/3/2014
    Recent Decision Provides for Assignment of Legal Malpractice Claims Exposing Attorneys to Liability Under Limited Circumstances
  • 3/16/2014
    The Marrying Judge and Judicial Disqualification
  • 3/31/2014
    To Sandbag, or Not to Sandbag . . .? ‘Tis Nobler To Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Trial
  • 4/14/2014
    Ethical Issues Raised By “Attorney’s Eyes Only” Discovery
  • 4/28/2014
    Vicarious responsibility: the duty to train and supervise
  • 5/12/2014
    California Mandates That It's Attorneys Have Strong Character
  • 5/27/2014
    The Case for an In-House Ethics Advisor
  • 6/9/2014
    Can Adverse Parties Maintain Attorney Client Communications Under the “Common Interest” Privilege? Yes, Under the Right Circumstances
  • 6/23/2014
    Social Media, Juries, and Interconnected Ethical Duties
  • 7/7/2014
    The Ethics of Future Lawyers
  • 7/21/2014
    Representing Multiple Classes? You May Be Violating Your Duty of Loyalty.
  • 8/4/2014
    And the Hits Keep Coming
  • 8/18/2014
    The Court of Appeal Clarifies Attorney Client Privilege Issues Confronting In-House Counsel Suing Their Employer for Wrongful Termination
  • 9/2/2014
    Recent News Highlight the Difficult Issues Facing Corporate Attorneys Made Aware of Potential Criminal Activity
  • 9/15/2014
    Bankruptcy Attorney Loses Big In Vegas: Or Don’t Gamble With Your License
  • 9/29/2014
    Evidence or Privilege?
  • 10/14/2014
    Social Media Traps: Ex Parte Communication With A “Friend”
  • 10/27/2014
    Is There an Affirmative Duty to Report the Impairment or Decline of Other Counsel?
  • 11/10/2014
    Back to the Drawing Board
  • 11/24/2014
    Public Censure of Tennessee Attorney is Stark Reminder that Attorneys’ Conduct Outside of the Practice of Law Has Consequences
  • 12/8/2014
    California Appellate Court Embraces In-House Attorney Client Communication Privilege



  • 1/5/2015
    Duty to Our Colleagues
  • 1/19/2015
    Recent Ruling in Obstruction of Justice Case Against Former Penn State Officials Provides a Stark Reminder Of General Counsel’s Upjohn Duties
  • 2/2/2015
    Resolving Fee or Alleged Malpractice Claims with Clients Requires Attorneys to Carefully Address Issues Regarding Complaints to the State Bar
  • 2/17/2015
    Who Is That Juror: Ethics and Juror Investigation
  • 3/3/2015
    An Ethical Nightmare
  • 3/16/2015
    Mandatory Continuing Education and Reporting: Beware!
  • 3/30/2015
    Attorney’s Testimony Results in Waiver of Attorney Client Privilege
  • 4/13/2015
    Personal Relationships and Professional Responsibilities
  • 4/27/2015
    Social Media, LinkedIn, and Attorney Advertising
  • 5/11/2015
    Ethics and Civility
  • 5/26/2015
    Billing Statements May Be Privileged
  • 6/8/2015
    Proposed Ethics Rules: Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace
  • 6/22/2015
    Ethics Conflicts: Beware Simultaneous and Successive Conflicting Client Representations
  • 7/6/2015
    E-Filing and the Paperless Law Office: Legal Writing for the Rewired Brain
  • 7/20/2015
    It’s Not Just “Liar’s Poker?”
  • 8/3/2015
    Not Beanbag But There Are Rules, Especially for Lawyers
  • 8/17/2015
    So You Think You’re a Lawyer? Not So Fast…
  • 8/31/2015
    The Digital Two-Edged Sword
  • 9/14/2015
    Legal Mal Mystery: When Is the Claim Barred?
  • 9/28/2015
    An Attorney’s Reliance On An ECF Entry Incorrectly Labeling A Court Order Does Not Constitute Good Cause Or Excusable Neglect For Extending Or Reopening An Appeal Period
  • 10/13/2015
    My Client Made Me Do It
  • 10/26/2015
    Another Consideration Affecting Joint Representation
  • 11/09/2015
    Legal Malpractice May Not be Legal Malpractice for Statute of Limitations Purposes



  • 11/23/2015
    Ignorance Is Not Bliss When It Comes To A Frivolous Action or Defense




  • 1/4/2016
    Can't I Run My Practice As I Want?
  • 1/18/2016
    Ethical Cautions to Take with Listserv Collaboration
  • 2/1/2016
    Recent Development in the Law of Conflicts: Concurrent Conflict Generally Requires Disqualification
  • 2/15/2016
    State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct Provides Guidance Regarding the Ethical Scope of Settlement Negotiating
  • 2/29/2016
    Return of Client Files
  • 3/14/2016
    Informed Written Consent vs. Advance Waiver
    A Conflict Check; a Costly Choice
  • 3/28/2016
    Inadvertent Disclosure of Privileged Documents: Another Blow Against “Gotcha” Waiver
  • 4/11/2016
    Can a Third Party Pay a Client's Fees?
  • 4/25/2016
    Rainmaking Between the Lines
  • 5/6/2016
    When Zealous Advocacy Crosses the Line, It May be the End of Your Client's Case
  • 5/23/2016
    A Delicate Balance: Ethical Duties and Zealous Advocacy
  • 6/6/2016
    Even Pre-Litigation Is Not A Contact Sport
  • 6/20/2016
    Maintaining the Cone of Silence: How Far Do We Have to Go?
  • 7/5/2016
    When Does Helping Your Client Become Prohibited Indirect Communication with a Represented Party in Violation of Rule 2-100?
  • 7/18/2016
    “For the times they are a-changin’”
    Rules of Professional Conduct
  • 8/1/2016
    Change is Coming for Lawyer Advertising
  • 8/15/2016
    The Attorney-Client Privilege and the Engagement Agreement
  • 8/29/2016
    Appellate Court Interprets Waivers of Attorney Client Privilege Where the Original Holder is Deceased and Confirms Impropriety of In Camera Review Once the Party Asserting the Privilege Establishes an Attorney Client Communication
  • 9/12/2016
    Riding Too Close to the Ethical Line
  • 9/26/2016
    Contacting Other Parties Represented by Counsel: Can You, or Can’t You?
  • 10/11/2016
    MCLE Compliance Time is Near: Watch for these Pitfalls
  • 10/24/2016
    Expanding Your Practice to Include Bankruptcy? Make Sure You Are Competent to Do So
  • 11/14/2016
    Lack of Candor and Civility Can Result in Lost Opportunities
  • 11/21/2016
    New Rules? What New Rules?
  • 12/5/2016
    Does the Attorney-Client Privilege Apply After the Death of a Client?



  • 12/4/2017
    Advance Payments Are Not True Retainers Under 3-700(D)(2)
  • 11/20/2017
    The Onslaught of News Regarding Accusations of Sexual Harassment Also Highlight Core Attorney Ethical Duties to Their Clients
  • 11/6/2017
    Double Trouble? No, Just Some Caveats.
  • 10/23/2017
    In For A Penny, In For A Pound
  • 10/9/2017
    Inadvertent Disclosure: The Evolution of an Ethics Rule
  • 9/25/2017
    Lawyers and their Counsel 
  • 9/11/2017
    No More Mediation Confidentiality Protection for Negligent Attorneys
  • 8/28/2017
    Retribution for Adversaries: A Really Bad Idea.
  • 8/14/2017
    Successive Representation and Closely Held Corporations: Normal Disqualification Rule Doesn’t Apply.
  • 7/31/2017
    Casual Conversations, Ethical Minefields
  • 7/24/2017
    Communication with Clients — Utmost Importance
  • 7/5/2017
    Distinguishing Between Negligence and a Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • 6/19/2017
    No Matter the Role, We’re Always Still Lawyers
  • 6/5/2017
    Applying the Rico Standard in Non-Traditional Cases
  • 5/22/2017
    Proposed Rule 1.4 Provides Specific Ethical Standards For Communicating With Clients
  • 5/8/2017
    Waiver of the Attorney Client Privilege? Don't Bet On It.
  • 4/24/2017
    Court of Appeal Confirms Termination of Attorney Client Representation is Based on a Fluid Determination of Client's "Reasonable" Expectation
  • 4/10/2017
    The Ethical Implications of Threatening Criminal, Administrative, or Disciplinary Charges 
  • 3/27/2017
    Court of Appeal Declines to Extend Attorney Client Privilege to Public Relations Consultant, But Recognizes Potential Application
  • 3/13/2017
    Avoiding the Practice of Law Via the Internet: Sometimes Easier Said Than Done
  • 2/27/2017
    “You’re Fired:” Now What?
  • 2/13/2017
    I Should Have Read the Rules of Professional Conduct …
  • 1/30/2017
    California Supreme Court Opinion Holds Not All Attorney Invoices to Clients are Treated the Same for Attorney Client Privilege Protections
  • 1/17/2017
    “Confidentially speaking …”
  • 1/3/2017
    Discovery and Gamesmanship Do Not Mix: The Ninth Circuit Affirms $3 Million in Sanctions



  • 8/27/2018
    The New Rule 4.1 “Truthfulness in Statements to Others”
  • 8/13/2018
    Countdown to the New Rules of Professional Responsibility
  • 7/30/2018
    The New “Candor” Rule—A Changed Landscapes
  • 7/16/2018
    Ethical Departures: Obligations to Clients When Attorneys Change Firms
  • 7/2/2018
    Potential and Actual Conflicts: Be Aware of the New Rules
  • 6/18/2018
    Simple Competence: Surprisingly Complex
  • 6/4/2018
    What New Rules? I Barely Know the Old Ones.
  • 5/21/2018
    The Attorney General Issues an Opinion on Conflicts Faced by an Attorney Who Serves as Elected Public Official
  • 5/7/2018
    The Marijuana Dilemma: Ethical Implications of Advising Business that Operates in Violation of Federal Law
  • 4/23/2018
    Ethical and Best Practices Considerations in Dealing with Client Billing and Fund Handling Disputes
  • 4/9/2018
    Good Billing Practices Lead To Better Results
  • 3/26/2018
    The Intersection of Ethics and Technology
  • 3/12/2018
    Crime and Punishment. And Discipline to Boot.
  • 2/26/2018
    The Party Line
  • 2/12/2018
    Attorney Mobility: Switching Sides, Conflicts and Law Firm Disqualification.
  • 1/29/2018
    Associates Do Not Get a Free Pass From Abiding by the Rules of Professional Conduct by Following a Partner’s Direction.
  • 1/16/2018
    The “Tripartite Relationship” Some Thoughts on Avoiding the Pointy End
  • 1/2/2018
    Excessive Deposition Delays Without Sufficient Justification Leads to Terminating Sanctions