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New CA bill re lawyer fees focuses on public safety, discipline

It is clear what State Bar of California Executive Director Leah Wilson is primarily addressing in her reference to the “reform momentum” evident in recently passed legislation affecting state attorneys.

Wilson’s focus is twofold, centering squarely on public safety and attorney discipline.

A bill enacted as law last week by Gov. Jerry Brown renders it crystal clear that those two focal points are tightly linked in the minds of California legal officials. Assembly Bill 3249 prominently spotlights increased public access and input into the legal system, coupled with new language providing for enhanced penalties against attorney wrongdoers.

We have noted the bar’s obvious concerns with problem attorneys and their adverse impact on public trust in prior Glickman & Glickman blog posts. Our August 15 entry is a representative example. That post addressed the bar’s mandate that all active lawyers in the state submit to fingerprinting by the end of next April.

AB 3249 focuses on additional matters. It requires the California Supreme Court to disbar rather than suspend any attorney who is convicted on a felony charge involving moral turpitude or any fraud-related conduct. And it mandates that the State Bar Court take immediate action against lawyers who have been incarcerated for at least 90 days. Those individuals will now be placed on involuntary inactive status. Practically, that designation precludes them from any client contact.

Most California attorneys are unquestionably competent, dedicated and ethical practitioners who routinely seek to promote their clients’ best interests.

Unfortunately, though, that is not universally the case. Good-faith and vulnerable individuals and families sometimes suffer greatly when their legal advocacy is materially flawed, either purposefully or owing to negligent behavior.

Glickman & Glickman attorneys proudly and resolutely advocate for those victims. We welcome contacts to our firm to discuss our proven representation.