What Will the New Code of Ethics Mean for a San Diego Attorney?

Family Law, Uncategorized

New Rules of Professional Conduct went into effect under the California State Bar in November 2018. Understand what those standards entail—and why would they matter for an attorney and a client. This blog will take a look.

In November 2018 the California State Bar adopted a new set of rules governing ethics for attorneys, covered in the Rules of Professional Conduct. Along with renumbering the rules to more closely follow the American Bar Association Model Rules, California increased the number of ethics rules from 46 to 69, with significant changes to how attorneys are to practice law, their relationships with clients, and professional conduct in various areas of practice.

For example, new Rule 1.1 states that “(a) lawyer shall not intentionally, recklessly, with gross negligence, or repeatedly fail to perform legal services with competence.” The phrase “with gross negligence” is a change from former Rule 3.110, in that single acts of ordinary negligence have often not been found to be a violation of the rule in the State Supreme Court.  

Looking at new Rule 1.3, we find that diligence on the part of an attorney is a mandated duty, separate and distinct from other duties. A lawyer “acts with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and does not neglect or disregard, or unduly delay a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer.” Rule 1.3(b)  Formerly this level of diligence used to be found in former Rule 3.110, as part of the duty of competence. When the rules were rewritten, the State Bar commission wanted to make diligence its own duty in order to improve consumer confidence in the profession.

Rule 1.7 focuses on the impact and knowledge of any conflicts the lawyer may have that could affect the client’s interests and allows for waivers in certain circumstances, but the rule does require that written disclosure must be made to the client. Conflicts could arise with other of the attorney’s clients, former clients, third parties, or the interests of the lawyer.

In the new Rule 1.8.10, there is now a strict prohibition on sexual relationships with clients who are not the spouse or domestic partner of the attorney, or with whom the attorney did not have a consensual sexual relationship prior to becoming a client. Previously, in Rule 3.120 the attorney was prohibited from exchanging legal services for sexual favors, or from coercing or intimidating a client into sex.  

Rule 1.15 now states that advance fee deposits must now be held in a client trust account maintained in California, which includes fees that were held prior to the new rule. The former rule 4.100 only required that funds be deposited into a client trust account.

New Rules 5.1 and 5.3 require an attorney to supervise subordinates. In former Rule 3.110, a duty to supervise was not explicitly part of the rule or the role of attorneys in such a position.

Finally, in new Rule 8.4.1, an attorney is prohibited from unlawful harassment, discrimination and harassment in representing, terminating, or refusing to provide legal services, and in the operation of a law practice.  

All attorneys licensed in California should read and familiarize themselves with all of the new rules, not just the ones we discuss here. An attorney’s devotion to diligence, competence, professionalism, proper client relationships and careful law practice and firm management are key but they are not the only responsibilities a California attorney is now tasked with.  

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

Navigating through the new set of rules can be challenging. The experienced legal team at JWB Family law are well-versed in the impact of these rules on a practicing family law attorney. We are able to discuss this in greater detail and help you become well-versed in what these changes mean. Contact our office today to schedule your discreet consultation at our San Diego location.

The Importance of the CFLS Designation

A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriagechild and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.

Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.

2021 Christmas Street Stocking

Here are examples of community property and separate property:

Who gets inheritance money after a divorce?

Here are examples of community property and separate property:

Child custody schedule options and examples

When you are in a proceeding to decide how to share the custody and visitation of your children, many decisions must be made by you and the other parent on how you will co-parent your minor children. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make a...

What’s worth fighting for in a divorce?

Here are examples of community property and separate property:

San Diego domestic violence resources

As in other counties in California, San Diego has resources you can contact to help you in a domestic violence case. A nd a dedicated family law and divorce attorney can help you legally enforce your separation from an abusive partner.

Military spouse benefits after a divorce

It is important to discuss all these topics with the military spouse divorce attorneys you retain to help guide you through the dissolution of your marriage. Military family law can be complex when it comes to divorce.

What not to post on social media during your divorce

Anything you post on social media during a divorce can, and likely will, be used against you in your dissolution proceedings. It is extremely important to avoid posting about getting divorced on all your social media profiles because anything that can be construed...

Helping a friend through divorce isn’t easy

A person going through a divorce is often dealing with the loss of time with their kids, a portion of their retirement, their house, and even relationships with their in-laws.

Child custody during the divorce process

There are two types of custody: legal and physical.

El Centro, California becomes the newest site for the Law Office of JWB Family Law

El Centro is the newest location for JWB Family Law, specializing in divorce, property division, child and spousal support, and more.