California Bar Journal
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Self-Assessment Test
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Answer the following questions after reading the MCLE article on legal ethics. Use the answer form provided to send the test, along with a $20 processing fee, to the State Bar. If you do not receive your certificate within four weeks, call Ibrahim Bah at 415/538-2028.

1. Attorneys may be held to have a duty to discover rules of law that are not commonly known.

2. Failure to represent clients competently may be a breach of the duty of due care giving rise to malpractice exposure, but will not subject a lawyer to discipline.

3. Lawyers can safely practice law without relying on the internet for legal research. 

4. Lawyers can safely practice law without using the internet for factual investigation relevant to clients' legal matters. 

5. The duty of due care not only requires an attorney to have and to use the degree of learning and skill possessed by reputable attorneys in the community, but also requires the use of "best judgment" in the application of learning.

6. A lawyer does not have an attorney-client relationship with a client until the lawyer and client enter into an oral or written agreement.

7. Giving legal advice over the internet to a prospective "client" creates a risk the lawyer will breach the duty of care, not the duty of loyalty.

8. A lawyer should conduct a conflict of interest check before providing any legal advice to a prospective client who has contacted a lawyer through the lawyer's web site. 

9. The duty to protect confidential attorney-client communications is codified in the Business and Professions Code, not in the Evidence Code. 

10. In order to maintain confidentiality of attorney-client communications, e-mail should necessarily be encrypted.

11. Transmission of confidential information electronically is much riskier than other more traditional means of transmitting information, such as the postal service.

12. Lawyers should obtain their clients' consent before transmitting confidential information via e- mail.

13. A breach of the duty of loyalty can give rise to a forfeiture of attorney's fees.

14. The internet is a supernetwork of computers that links together individual computer networks located at various sites, including academic and governmental sites, worldwide.

15. Law firm web sites create increased risks that lawyers will be held to have established attorney-client relationships with prospective clients with whom they have no fee contracts.

16. The duty of due care owed to "cyber" clients is different than the duty of due care owed to clients the attorney has met face to face.

17. To be competent, an attorney must not only be mentally and physically able to represent a client, but also must be emotionally able to do so.

18. An attorney does not need to advise a client that the client can be held to have a duty to discover facts relevant to a legal matter that are readily available on the internet. 

19. There is case law in California expressly holding that the duty of care requires attorneys to conduct computerized research.

20. Because there is no case law on point, an expert witness could not testify that the standard of care requires a lawyer to conduct internet research in a given situation.