I’m pleased to assume the chair of the Legal Ethics Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association for 2021, having been appointed by its Board of Directors. The Committee provides legal ethics education to San Diego lawyers through articles and presentations, and operates an ethics hotline for SDCBA members. The Committee also publishes ethics opinions to provide guidance to lawyers in San Diego and statewide. I’ve served on the Committee since shortly after moving to San Diego to join Procopio. I’ve focused on bringing value to SDCBA and its members with my background as a frequent speaker and writer in the area of legal ethics and professional responsibility, including the representation of lawyers and law firms in counseling and litigation matters, and serving as an expert witness, mediator and arbitrator.
One upcoming speaking engagement is on Thursday, February 4, 2021. I will be speaking again with leading practitioners in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility Ron Minkoff, from Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz’s New York office and Jan Jacobowitz from Miami, on the Ethics of Client Billing and Fee Collection: Balancing Financial Interests and Fiduciary Obligations. Join us for a discussion on billing and fee collection which has always been a complicated area for the legal profession. To minimize client disputes over billing and fee collection and avoid ethical missteps, attorneys must immediately review and reconsider their policies and practices surrounding fee agreements, time tracking, and billing and collections. A recording of the webinar should be available soon after the event.
Speaking of writing, I recently authored an article for the SDCBA BLAWG 401. What is the scope of representation permissible under pro hac vice admission authorizing representation of an organizational defendant? My article addresses a recent decision, Big Lots Stores, Inc. v. Superior Court. Although it turns out that the firm involved did not get disqualified by the court from handling the case, the appellate court said that the pro hac authorization to represent the company did not authorize representation of current and former management employees who were mere witnesses to some of the facts and circumstances. You can read the article here.
And I continue with public speaking. On January 25, 2021, I presented on Ethical Considerations for Remote Work and Virtual Law Practice for the Beverly Hills Bar Association and California Lawyers Association. The presentation covered the American Bar Association’s recent ethics opinion on lawyers working remotely. We discussed the ethics issues arising when California lawyers practicing law while physically located in another state, as well as California’s ethics opinion on the virtual practice of law. We also discussed ethics issues arising from dealing with pandemic related illness of a lawyer, client or key witness, including discussion of two recent New York bar association opinions. This webinar may be available from the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
I also recently had the pleasure of presenting with Doug Bradley, of Everest Legal Marketing, on Legal and Ethical Concerns for Marketing a Law Firm for the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association on January 26, 2021. We discussed the dos and don’ts of legal marketing including electronic advertising. We broke down many of the important points from the ABA’s Opinion 10-457 on attorney websites including the disclaimers that are required. Doug and I discussed the important topic of dealing with negative postings by clients on Yelp and other online platforms, including ethics opinions from Los Angeles and San Francisco advising against disclosure of confidential information. We also examined the new ABA Opinion 491, addressing the best practices when faced with a negative posting. We also discussed the use of keywords of a competitor to drive traffic to a lawyer’s website. Doug also gave some tips on website ADA compliance. This webinar may be available through the San Bernardino County Bar Association.