Trends and Analysis for Successfully Transitioning Lateral Partners
into New Partnerships While Minimizing Risk and Reducing Potential Liabilities

Providing Notice of Departure.

Notice to Clients of Attorney Departure Not Likely Protected Speech in California

Earlier this month, California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with an Orange County trial court that several emails sent by a departing partner to clients and former clients announcing his departure to a new firm did not qualify as protected speech under anti-SLAPP laws.  Although the Court of Appeal’s opinion was unpublished, the Court provided a detailed analysis of what constitutes protected speech in the context of attorney departures.  The opinion also underscores that the anti-SLAPP statute has very limited utility in attacking claims related to partner departures. More

Are Recent Ethical Rules that Establish Attorney Notification Protocols For Departing Attorneys Really in the Best Interest of the Clients?

Earlier this year, the Virginia State Bar enacted a new ethical rule governing how attorneys and law firms should notify clients in the event of an attorney departure or firm dissolution. The new rule, Rule 5.8 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, is an effort by that state to regulate what it viewed as a difficulty in getting attorneys and law firms to cooperate related to the handling of law firm departures and dissolutions, and in how attorneys notify clients of these changes. More

Ethical Obligations Regarding the Use and Handling of a Law Firm’s Domain Name upon a Partner Departure and Change In the Firm’s Name

An interesting ethics issue is being considered by the Virginia State Bar with respect to whether and how a firm can continue to use its URL after a partner departure when the URL contained the former partner’s name in it and the firm’s name has changed.  At present, the Virginia State Bar Standing Committee on Ethics has issued a proposed Advisory Opinion on this issue, but is still seeking comment on this topic through February 28, 2014.  (See Virginia State Bar Proposed Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1873.)  While this proposed opinion does not originate in California, it will be instructive on handling similar issues that arise in California, given that the ethical rules that are the underpinnings of this proposed opinion are substantially similar to those in California. More

Departing Partners Must Properly Navigate California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act When Making a Lateral Move to a New Firm

A departing partner must be familiar with and properly navigate California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Civil Code Section 3246 et seq.)(“UTSA”), which governs misappropriation of trade secrets, when informing clients of a move to a new firm.  In the seminal 2004 case Reeves v. Hanlon (2004) 33 Cal.4th 1140, the California Supreme Court defined the scope of the UTSA in the context of a law firm partner departure and use of the firm’s client list. More