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
into New Partnerships While Minimizing Risk and Reducing Potential Liabilities
Providing Notice of Departure.
California’s New Rules: How Communication Rules Impact Attorney Departures
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 Although the Court of Appeal’s opinion was unpublished, the Court provided a detailed analysis of what constitutes protected speech in the context of attorney departures.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