PLEASE NOTE:  Publication for public comment is not, and shall not, be construed as a recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published.

SUBJECT:

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 11-0003 (Dissolution of Law Firm)

BACKGROUND:

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 19, Article 2, Section 6(g) (as modified by Tab 12, Title 1, Division 2, Rule 1.10) of the State Bar Board Book, the Committee shall publish proposed formal opinions for public comment.

DISCUSSION/PROPOSAL:

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 11 0003 considers: Upon dissolution of a law firm, what duties does an attorney formerly affiliated with the firm owe to a client on whose behalf he or she provided legal services if the attorney will no longer be representing the client following dissolution?  What duties does she owe to the client if she had no connection with or knowledge of the client prior to dissolution of the firm?  Do those duties differ depending on the nature of the attorney’s position with the firm?

The opinion interprets rules 3-110, 3-500 and 3-700 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California.

The opinion digest states: California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-700, provides that a member may not withdraw from the representation of a client until the member has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client.  The requirements of Rule 3-700 also apply when an attorney’s withdrawal is prompted by the dissolution of a law firm.  In the event of dissolution, all attorneys who are employed by or partners of a firm are required to comply with Rule 3-700 as to all clients of the firm, regardless of their knowledge of or connection to any specific client or the specific nature of their affiliation with the firm.

At its October 11, 2012 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. 11 0003 for a 90-day public comment distribution.

ANY KNOWN FISCAL/PERSONNEL IMPACT: 

None

ATTACHMENT: 

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 11-0003

SOURCE: 

State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct

DEADLINE: 

5 p.m. Feb. 19, 2013    

DIRECT COMMENTS TO:    

Mimi Lee
Office of Professional Competence, Planning and Development
State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
Ph. # (415) 538-2162
Fax # (415) 538-2171
E-mail: mimi.lee@calbar.ca.gov