The State Bar seeks public comment on Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14-0003 (Settling Before Withdrawal).
Deadline: November 26, 2018
The State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) is charged with the task of issuing advisory opinions on the ethical propriety of hypothetical attorney conduct. In accordance with Tab 5.1, Article 2, Section 6(g) of the State Bar Board Book, the Committee shall publish proposed formal opinions for public comment.
On May 10, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued an order approving 69 new Rules of Professional Conduct, which will go into effect on November 1, 2018. Information about the new rules is available at the State Bar website. Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14-0003 interprets the new Rules of Professional Conduct.
Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14‑0003 considers: May an attorney who is required to withdraw from representing a client under rule 1.16(a) because the client’s claim lacks merit, ethically settle the action before withdrawing from the representation?
The opinion interprets rules 1.16, 3.1, 3.4, and 4.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California; and Business and Professions Code sections 6068(c), 6068(d), 6106, and 6128(a).
The opinion digest states:
An attorney who has concluded that a client’s claim lacks merit and cannot be pursued without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct or State Bar Act is required to withdraw from the representation. Before withdrawing, the attorney must take reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the client. Such reasonable steps may include settling the claim if the attorney can do so consistent with the attorney’s duty of honesty.
At its January 12, 2018, meeting and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, the State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct tentatively approved Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14‑0003 for a 90‑day public comment distribution. Subsequently, at its September 7, 2018 meeting, COPRAC revised the opinion in response to public comment, and updated the option to conform to the new Rules of Professional Conduct that will take effect on November 1, 2018. And, in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, COPRAC tentatively approved Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14-0003 for an additional 60-day public comment distribution.
Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 14-0003
State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct
November 26, 2018
Angela MarlaudOffice of Professional CompetenceState Bar of California180 Howard StreetSan Francisco, CA 94105Phone: 415-538-2116Fax: 415-538-2171Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please reference the specific item in your comments.