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Rules of Professional Conduct

So you have an ethical question?

Posted by Anthony Radogna | May 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you would like to talk to someone who practices in this very specific type of law, I encourage you to call me anytime. Additionally, there are some good resources that you should refer to as well.

If you are a licensed attorney you should be reviewing ethics opinions. My personal opinion is that most, if not all of these opinions are very helpful if you want to have a very good basic understanding of a particular rule or situation. These opinions give you a hypothetical example, some decent case law, how the example applies to the rules, and a conclusion.

These ethics opinions are not binding but can be cited in not only State Bar Court cases, but also California Supreme Court cases as well.

Another good resource is the State Bar Ethics Hotline. Many attorneys that call me have already called the Ethics Hotline at the State Bar. I have heard mostly positive things about this hotline but every now and then I will hear that the hotline totally led this person astray. There is also an element of not being able to feel totally open in your questions to a State Bar employee.  

How else can you keep up to date with ethics issues? Well, there are MCLE classes taught by me or many of my colleagues. Or even a day long course in ethics (Client Trust Account School/Ethics School) taught at the Bar, where they discuss the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. If you have been disciplined you are required to attend these schools; but any licensed attorney may attend and receive some MCLE credit for it as well.

Specifically, Ethics School identifies issues and solutions to common ethical situations. Client Trust Account School is a separate 3-hour course focusing on client trust account issues.  

For further information see the following:

California Compendium on Professional Responsibility and Conduct:

Review California State Bar Ethics opinions at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Conduct-Discipline/Ethics/Opinions

Most local county bar associations have ethics committees that publish ethics opinions as well.  

Los Angeles County Bar Association ethics opinions:

https://www.lacba.org/resources/tools-documents/ethics-opinions

San Diego County Bar Association ethics opinions:

https://www.sdcba.org/index.cfm?pg=LegalEthicsOpinionsIndex

Orange County Bar Association ethics opinions:

http://www.ocbar.org/AttorneyResources/EthicsOpinions.aspx

San Francisco Bar Association ethics opinions:

https://www.sfbar.org/ethics/

American Bar Association ethics opinions:

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/ethicsopinions.html

About the Author

Anthony Radogna

Anthony Radogna worked for over 5 years as an Investigator for the State Bar of California's Office of Chief Trial Counsel ("OCTC"), investigating a wide-range of ethical complaints brought against attorneys. In addition, he served on specialized task force teams and has experience investigating the unauthorized practice of law (Business and Professions code section 6126.3), abandoned law practices, disbarred and resigned attorneys, and other activities such as drug abuse and physical or mental illness (Business and Professions code section 6180 and 6190). He is admitted to practice law in California and the United States Central District Court. Anthony now provides advice, consultations, and representation to California attorneys involved in State Bar proceedings, from resolving complaints, to defense in State Bar trials and appeals. Anthony graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Business from Cal Poly Pomona. He received his Juris Doctorate from La Verne Law School and became a licensed attorney in 2008. He also holds a LL.M in Criminal Law and Practice from Southwestern Law School. In addition, he currently is an Associate Professor at Irvine University Law School, where he proudly teaches Professional Responsibility and Criminal Procedure classes to law students. He also serves as a committee member on two separate school Committees, Academic and Admissions. Anthony is a member of the Orange County Bar Association. He is also currently serving as a liaison to the California State Bar for the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP). LAP helps lawyers and State Bar applicants who are grappling with stress, anxiety, depression, substance use or concerns about their career. Anthony is a "NITA Advocate" (National Institute of Trial Advocacy). This advocate designation is reserved for the individuals who have completed extensive training and learned a wide range of advocacy skills through the NITA program.

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