At its meeting on July 22, 2016, the State Bar Council adopted the ethics opinions summarized below:
2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 8
Representing One Spouse on Domestic and Estate Matters After Representing Both Spouses
Opinion rules that a lawyer who previously represented a husband and wife in several matters may not represent one spouse in a subsequent domestic action against the other spouse without the consent of the other spouse unless, after thoughtful and thorough analysis of a number of factors relevant to the prior representations, the lawyer determines that there is no substantial relationship between the prior representations and the domestic matter.
2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 9
Holding Out Non-Equity Firm Lawyers as “Partners”
Opinion rules that a lawyer who does not own equity in a law firm may be held out to the public by the designation “partner,” “income partner,” or “non-equity partner,” provided the lawyer was officially promoted based upon legitimate criteria and the lawyer complies with the professional responsibilities arising from the designation.
2016 Formal Ethics Opinion 2
Duty of Defense Counsel Appointed after Defendant Files Pro Se Motion for Appropriate Relief
Opinion rules that, when advancing claims on behalf of a criminal defendant who filed a pro se motion for appropriate relief, subsequently appointed defense counsel must correct erroneous claims and statements of law or fact set out in the previous pro se filing.
Ethics Committee Actions
At its meeting on July 21, 2016, the Ethics Committee voted to revise the editor’s note for 2014 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Protecting Confidential Client Information When Mentoring, an opinion that was adopted by the council on February 1, 2016. The editor’s note cites a recent court of appeals opinion on whether a third party is an agent of the lawyer or the client such that the attorney-client privilege is not waived although the third party is privy to client-lawyer communications. The committee concluded that a lawyer should consider this appellate opinion when analyzing whether a protégé’s presence during a client-lawyer consultation will waive the attorney-client privilege. The ethics opinion, with the revised editor’s note, can be found in the ethics opinions section of the State Bar website.
At the July 21, 2016, meeting, the committee also voted to continue to table proposed 2016 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Contesting Opposing Counsel’s Fee Request to Industrial Commission, pending the issuance of an opinion on similar facts by the court of appeals.
No new opinions were proposed by the committee.