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Los Angeles Professional Malpractice Law Blog

First ethics overhaul in decades brings big change for CA lawyers

A recent media spotlight placed on California attorneys and the rules that govern their conduct pursuant to professional practice notes that it has been decades since the last full revision of the state’s ethics rules.

Much has changed since the 1980s, of course, which was the last time the State Bar of California took a hard and comprehensive look at lawyerly behavior prior to its recent overhaul of ethics provisions.

Recent report on California State Bar examines lawyer discipline

We noted the relatively recent rollout of material changes in the State Bar of California that seek to give that sprawling bureaucratic arm a new look and feel. The focus is on tautness and a sharper focus, and bar officials think that the goal has been achieved.

We referenced the top-tier concern for bar regulators in our May 7 blog post, stressing therein officials' concern with problem lawyers practicing across the state.

Recent developments materially affecting California State Bar

Anyone with even a casual interest in the State Bar of California knows that that the officials and legions of workers employed by that entity have no time to spare.

They’re flat-out busy and focused daily on a wide assortment of concerns. That they are is essentially a given; as noted in a recent Bloomberg article on California legal matters, the California bar is “the nation’s largest bar.”

Lively debate surrounds California’s lawyer fingerprinting proposal

The debate over the prospective fingerprinting of all California attorneys by April 30 of next year is not over.

In fact, it just seems to be getting starting, as evidenced by a spate of strong comments passed along in one recent news report on the State Bar-authored proposal. The fingerprinting onus is presently just a recommendation, but the exaction is widely expected to be approved soon by the California Supreme Court.

Re-fingerprinting of CA attorneys: What will it reveal?

Authorities with the State Bar of California obviously harbor some concerns regarding the integrity and past backgrounds of select attorneys. They have sought to address them with a massive program requiring the re-fingerprinting of every actively licensed lawyer practicing across the state.

If you are a lay reader of this blog who has retained a California attorney for legal work or is considering doing so, should that at all concern you? Is it merely an administrative exercise?

Claimant's case raises questions of incompetent representation

A construction worker in one American state suffered on-the-job injuries at a worksite a couple years ago and expected to receive workers' compensation benefits as a result.

His claim was denied.

Not willing to settle for that result, the employee took the matter to arbitration. He claimed that the denial was in bad faith and that his employer had unlawfully retaliated against him for pursuing an injury recovery.

Finally, vindication for filmmaker in forgery malpractice case

A senior executive with National Geographic was asked some visa-related questions a few years ago by American government officials concerning a British filmmaker working for the company in the U.S. The company official noted her repeated signature on visa renewal applications for the filmmaker.

It was forged. National Geographic immediately fired the filmmaker.

You might want to ask your lawyer this: Are you a lateral?

A legal trend in recent years has been the increasingly common practice of law firms bringing in so-called "lateral" hires from competitors. The need to do so is twofold: first, to replace their own attorneys who have walked out the door and, second, to get fresh blood and experienced talent in place that can attract new clients.

A recent American Lawyer article references lateral hire-linked research that posits generally disappointing results for most firms that actively recruit laterals. Here are two major findings from the Global Lateral Hire Risk Mitigation Study:

Plaintiff alleges fraudulent investment scheme, legal malpractice

The plaintiff states that he was reasonably induced to invest heavily in a hyped investment opportunity promising a "healthy return."

A California arbitrator subsequently ruled that the investor was entitled to a $3.4 million judgment in the wake of that opportunity proving to be falsely promoted and without merit.

Appeals court revives malpractice case against California law firm

California law firm Morrison & Foerster might have temporarily thought that it had escaped liability in a legal malpractice case filed against it in 2015 by an investment bank client. Firm principals were undoubtedly buoyed by a 2016 ruling issued by a New York trial court that dismissed the bank's lawsuit against it.

Any resulting euphoria was short-lived, though. An appellate court revived the case last week, announcing that the plaintiff's allegations of negligent client representation were sufficient to send the case back to trial.

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