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

What Does ABA’s Departure Opinion Mean for California Law Firms?

Although we routinely see headlines about partner and group departures, especially during this time of the year, the ABA’s recent ethic’s opinion on obligations for lawyers changing firms (ABA Formal Opn. 489, December 4, 2019) received much less attention. Law firms should have taken notice, however, because the opinion represents some significant new thinking on law firm notice provisions. Of course, legal ethics opinions are only advisory and for California law firms who are governed by California rules and case law, not all of the ABA’s analysis applies. Furthermore, on January 25, 2020, the State Bar of California’s Board of Trustees approved for publication California’s own ethics opinion addressing departing lawyers drafted by the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC). The COPRAC opinion provides guidance to both law firms and lawyers involved in departures in California.

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California’s New Rules: How New Conflicts Rules Impact Attorney Departures

The new California Rules of Professional Conduct are now in effect and have changed how law firms and lawyers must identify and analyze conflicts when considering lateral hires.  As we have previously reported, the new rules have a tremendous impact on all California attorneys, including for law firms and lawyers navigating attorney departures and law firm transitions.  In this post, which is part of a series, we will examine how certain new conflicts rules, rules 1.7, 1.9 and 1.18, will impact law firm departures. More

California’s New Rules: How Communication Rules Impact Attorney Departures

As most of you likely know by now, on November 1, 2018, the new California Rules of Professional Conduct will go into effect changing the regulation of the practice of law for all California attorneys. The significant changes to the prior rules and the enactment of some entirely new rules will have a tremendous impact on all California attorneys. Here, we will analyze the effect of the new rules on attorney departures and law firm transitions. In this post, which is one in a series, we will examine how the new Rule 1.4, Communication with Clients, will impact attorney transitions. More

California Partners Can Lawfully and Ethically Plan and Prepare to Depart from Their Law Firm

In the world of lawyers and law firms, attorney mobility is a continuing reality. Thoughtful lawyers who plan to depart their law firms are prudently getting advice on how to comply with their legal and ethical obligations to the firm and to their clients as part of the departure process. Law firms that have comprehensive plans in place to manage attorney and group departures can quickly and effectively respond to the news of a departure to help minimize its impact on the firm and clients. Yet one of the biggest questions raised by both law firms and lawyers during and after the departure process is: Can a partner plan to depart a law firm without breaching fiduciary duties to the firm? The short answer: Yes. More

Law Firm’s Non-Solicitation Agreement Restricts Mobility of Departing Partner

A recent legal ethics opinion from North Carolina provides interesting insight into the ethics of a non-solicitation agreement between law firms that restricts attorney mobility but not necessarily a client’s choice of counsel.

The North Carolina 2017 Formal Ethics Opinion No. 5 analyzed the issue of whether two law firms could enter into a non-solicitation agreement with respect to each other’s employees as part of their merger talks. In the proposed contractual provision, Law Firm A agrees not to induce or solicit any partners, associates or other employees of Law Firm B to join Law Firm A (and vice-versa), for the duration of the merger talks and for a period of two years following the merger discussions. The rationale for the provision was “to foster the trust necessary for both firms to disclose financial information about the productivity of the lawyers in the firms without fear that, should the merger negotiations be abandoned, the other firm would attempt to lure highly productive lawyers or ‘rainmaker’ lawyers away from the other firm” (See Opinion.) More