California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - July 2001
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News / News Briefs
Two-year fee bill goes to governor
Janet Reno, low-cost MCLE highlight Annual Meeting
Stanley Mosk dies at 88
State Bar wins ABA's Harrison Tweed Award for pro bono, legal access, IOLTA efforts
Foundation will accept grant applications beginning July 16
Winnebago of justice serves those on the road less traveled
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Trials Digest
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Legal Tech - Matter management is not just for litigators
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From the President - Public members bring fresh views
Holding judges accountable
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
Alcohol and the workplace
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics update...
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You Need to Know
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Public Comment
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Ethics Byte - Level field or a judicial practical joke?
Former DA disbarred for drunken-driving coverup
Attorney Discipline
Update on ethics
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Solin v. O'Melveny & Myers, LLP (May 24, 2001) 2001 WL 550861, 2001 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5189
A legal malpractice case was brought by an attorney against the law firm he retained for advice regarding the representation of his clients and to which confidential information concerning the criminal activities of the clients was imparted. The Second District Court of Appeal held the action was such that it was incapable of full resolution without breaching the attorney-client privilege and was thus properly dismissed.

Fox Searchlight Pictures v. Paladino (May 22, 2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 294
An in-house counsel suing her former employer for wrongful termination may disclose to her attorney all facts relevant to the termination even if this includes divulging employer confidences and privileged communications.

Depublished Cases

Rallis v. Cassidy (previously published at 84 Cal.App.4th 285)                
The Second District Court of Appeal held that an attorney-client relationship between a corporation's attorney and the corporate directors, officer or shareholders as individuals may be created on the basis of an implied-in-fact contract. The California Supreme Court denied review and ordered the case not to be officially published (Jan. 7, 2001).

Magill v. Superior Court (previously published at 86 Cal.App.4th 61)
The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that video and photos taken by an attorney's investigator do not have communicative intent and were therefore not protected by the attorney-client privilege. The California Supreme Court denied review and ordered the case not to be officially published (April 25, 2001).

Ethics Opinions

L.A. County Bar No. 506
An attorney has a duty to preserve confidential information obtained during initial consultations with a prospective client, where the consultations do not result in the retention of the attorney. An attorney has no duty to disclose the information to an existing client, even though it may be significant to the existing client, where the information is unrelated to the attorney's representation.

San Diego County Bar No. 2001-1
An attorney may not condition delivery of copies of significant documents in the client's files to the client on the client's prior payment of the copying costs, notwithstanding a contrary fee agreement provision.

State Bar Formal Opinion No. 2001-155
This new COPRAC opinion discusses the professional responsibility issues and considerations relating to Internet web sites containing information to the public concerning the attorney's availability for professional employment. Such use of an Internet website is a "communication" under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400 and an "advertisement" under Business and Professions Code 6157 and 6158.3 and is subject to the applicable prohibitions on false, misleading and deceptive messages.

Proposed Ethics Opinions

Cal. Interim Opinion No. 93-0005
Fee Agreement Mediation Provision - This proposed opinion discusses fee agreement provisions by which client and lawyer agree to mediate future disputes about claims against the lawyer (malpractice or professional misconduct) or fees and costs. In addition, the proposed opinion further discusses the process of selecting the mediator through a designated mediation service and the allocation of the costs of the mediation. [For any questions or for additional information about this proposal, please contact the State Bar Office of Professional Competence at 415/538-2167.]