California Bar Journal
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Self-Assessment Test
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Answer the following questions after reading the MCLE article on starting your own law firm. Use the answer form provided to send the test, along with a $20 processing fee, to the State Bar. Please allow at least eight weeks for MCLE certificates to reach you in the mail.

1. When starting a new firm, you may aggressively solicit clients that you work closely with at your former firm.

2. A prolonged "moonlighting" situation is an ethical way to test the solo waters before you leave your current firm.

3. Client lists and other client-related information may qualify as trade secrets of a law firm under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

4. Once you leave your former firm, all business relationships must be severed.

5. Subcontracting work from your former firm accomplishes:

(a) Firm hires attorney who is familiar with case, firm style and client;

(b) Firm avoids battles for clients with departing attorney;

(c) Reliable source of work for departing attorney; or

(d) All of the above.

6. The advances in communication technology have made it harder to open a new practice.

7. Solos should never set up shop in their residence.

8. Executive suites — where an attorney shares an office's overhead with other professionals and attorneys — is a cost-effective solution for new practices.

9. To use services (e.g., receptionist, conference room, file space, law library, etc.) in an executive suite arrangement, you must physically locate your office there.

10. In shared space arrangements, you must only protect client confidentiality when sharing space with other lawyers.

11. Attorneys who share an office with business associates who are not lawyers are permitted to split fees with those non-lawyers.

12. In shared space arrangements, you are prohibited from accepting referrals from other tenants.

13. A written fee agreement is required between an attorney and each client who retains him or her only if the client asks for one.

14. A computer can handle many of the functions that a secretary performs.

15. When starting a new practice, you are solely responsible for all law office functions, including document preparation, filings, time and billing, docketing and deadlines.

16. When you go solo, your level of productivity should significantly increase.

17. Ethical rules prohibit attorneys from sharing support staff.

18. Hiring a paralegal will help you handle your firm's clerical work.

19. Every attorney who receives or disburses trust funds from clients or for clients is required to have a client trust account.

20. Every attorney who practices in California is required by law to carry malpractice insurance.


This activity has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of California in the amount of 1 hour, of which 1 hour will apply to law practice management.

The State Bar of California certifies that this activity conforms to the standards for approved education activities prescribed by the rules and regulations of the State Bar of California governing minimum continuing legal education.