Following is the 49th post in a series from Parker Law Group about recent changes to the California Bar Association (CBA)’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). This rule (which happens to be the last rule listed in CBA’s revised RPC) is found in Chapter 8 – “Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession,” and focuses on disciplinary authority. This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law
- Disciplinary Authority.
A lawyer admitted to practice in California is subject to the disciplinary authority of California, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs. A lawyer not admitted in California is also subject to the disciplinary authority of California if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in California. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both California and another jurisdiction for the same conduct.
- Choice of Law.
In any exercise of the disciplinary authority of California, the rules of professional conduct to be applied shall be as follows:
(1) for conduct in connection with a matter pending before a tribunal, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the tribunal sits, unless the rules of the tribunal provide otherwise; and
(2) for any other conduct, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer’s conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct. A lawyer shall not be subject to discipline if the lawyer’s conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect of the lawyer’s conduct will occur.
The revised version of this rule in CBA’s RPC has been expanded from the previous one. Rule 1-100(D) in the previous RPC explained the “geographic scope of rules” relating to members of the California State Bar Association in subd. (1), while subd. (2) explained the rules governing lawyers from other jurisdictions who are NOT members of California’s bar association. As set forth above, this rule now explains the regulations regarding disciplinary authority for both members and nonmembers of the State Bar in subd. (a), while subd. (b) (“Choice of Law”) talks about the importance of jurisdiction in relation to the rules of professional conduct.
Other than very minor formatting differences, Rule 8.5 of the American Bar Association (ABA)’s RPC is identical to the CBA’s RPC Rule 8.5.
Benefit: Generally speaking, the explanation of how jurisdiction can affect the outcome of a legal matter involving an attorney’s misconduct can help the attorney avoid potential delays in their representation of clients.
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