New Rules of Professional Conduct
On September 26, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued an order approving new Rules of Professional Conduct, which are effective on November 1, 2018. The current rules remain in effect until that date.
The new rules can be found at:
This email sets forth a few of the noteworthy rules.
Rule 1.4.2 Disclosure of Professional Liability Insurance:
(a) A lawyer who knows* or reasonably should know* that the lawyer does not have professional liability insurance shall inform a client in writing,* at the time of the client’s engagement of the lawyer, that the lawyer does not have professional liability insurance.
(b) If notice under paragraph (a) has not been provided at the time of a client’s engagement of the lawyer, the lawyer shall inform the client in writing* within thirty days of the date the lawyer knows* or reasonably should know* that the lawyer no longer has professional liability insurance during the representation of the client.
Rule 1.8.10 Sexual Relations with Current Client
(a) A lawyer shall not engage in sexual relations with a current client who is not the lawyer’s spouse or registered domestic partner, unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the lawyer-client relationship commenced.
(b) For purposes of this rule, “sexual relations” means sexual intercourse or the touching of an intimate part of another person* for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.
(c) If a person* other than the client alleges a violation of this rule, no Notice of Disciplinary Charges may be filed by the State Bar against a lawyer under this rule until the State Bar has attempted to obtain the client’s statement regarding, and has considered, whether the client would be unduly burdened by further investigation or a charge.
Rule 1.15 Safekeeping Funds and Property of Clients and Other Persons*
(a) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm* for the benefit of a client, or other person* to whom the lawyer owes a contractual, statutory, or other legal duty, including advances for fees, costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable bank accounts labeled “Trust Account” or words of similar import, maintained in the State of California, or, with written* consent of the client, in any other jurisdiction where there is a substantial* relationship between the client or the client’s business and the other jurisdiction.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a flat fee paid in advance for legal services may be deposited in a lawyer’s or law firm’s operating account, provided:
(1) the lawyer or law firm* discloses to the client in writing* (i) that the client has a right under paragraph (a) to require that the flat fee be deposited in an identified trust account until the fee is earned, and (ii) that the client is entitled to a refund of any amount of the fee that has not been earned in the event the representation is terminated or the services for which the fee has been paid are not completed; and
(2) if the flat fee exceeds $1,000.00, the client’s agreement to deposit the flat fee in the lawyer’s operating account and the disclosures required by paragraph (b)(1) are set forth in a writing* signed by the client.