The State Bar Board of Trustees in March approved a new set of ethics rules for California attorneys, marking the first major overhaul in about 30 years.
The new rules won’t go into effect until adopted by the California Supreme Court.
But attorneys may want to get familiar now with the proposal, which includes 70 new or amended Rules of Professional Conduct covering everything from avoiding conflicts of interest to holding client money in trust.
The Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct has worked on the proposals for the last two years, holding 34 public meetings and collecting feedback about attorneys’ ethical obligations. The Commission considered over 600 public comments on individual rules from more than 140 people.
“This demonstrates the State Bar’s commitment to getting these rules right,” said the chairwoman of the commission, the Honorable Lee Edmon, Presiding Justice of Division Three of the 2nd District Court of Appeal. One of the commission’s guiding principles was to “promote confidence in the legal profession and the administration of justice, and ensure adequate protection to the public.”
The board approved a set of 34 rules brought forward by the commission in March. An initial set of 36 was approved in November. The package was submitted to the Supreme Court on March 30 under docket number S240991.
Highlights of the total package include: Expansion of the ban on discrimination to allow the State Bar to open an investigation without a previous civil finding and to include express prohibitions on harassment and retaliation. The rule would also require an attorney facing discipline charges related to such misconduct to notify the federal and state agencies that enforce anti-discrimination laws.
A stricter rule against sex with clients, banning it unless there was a...