Following is the 52nd 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 is found in Chapter 8 – “Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession,” focusing on false statements made while applying for admission to practice law. This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 8.1 False Statement Regarding Application for Admission to Practice Law
(a) An applicant for admission to practice law shall not, in connection with that person’s own application for admission, make a statement of material fact that the lawyer knows to be false, or make such a statement with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity.
(b) A lawyer shall not, in connection with another person’s application for admission to practice law, make a statement of material fact that the lawyer knows to be false.
(c) An applicant for admission to practice law, or a lawyer in connection with an application for admission, shall not fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a statement known by the applicant or the lawyer to have created a material misapprehension in the matter, except that this rule does not authorize disclosure of information protected by Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e) and rule 1.6.
(d) As used in this rule, “admission to practice law” includes admission or readmission to membership in the State Bar; reinstatement to active membership in the State Bar; and any similar process relating to admission or certification to practice law in California or elsewhere.
The first two subdivisions of the CBA’s revised rule – Rule 8.1(a)-(b), as set forth above – include basically the same information that was in the previous RPC’s Rule 1-200(A)-(B). However, subds. (c) and (d) of the new rule don’t match any wording found in the previous version’s (C). (CBA’s previous version only had three subdivisions.) Rule 1-200(C) in the previous version said: “This rule shall not prevent a member from serving as counsel of record for an applicant for admission to practice in proceedings related to such admission.” Subd. (c) of the revised rule talks about failure to disclose a fact necessary to correct a statement made in an application (with the exception of information protected by Bus. & Prof. Code § 6068(e) and Rule 1.6). Subd. (d) lists examples to help clarify the meaning of the term “admission to practice law.”
Titled “Bar Admission & Disciplinary Matters,” Rule 8.1 of the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Model RPC discusses this topic much more succinctly than does the CBA’s revised rule. The ABA’s rule basically says that an applicant for admission to the bar shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension that is known to have arisen.
Benefit: Generally speaking, the expansion of this rule can help prevent unqualified applicants from being admitted to the California State Bar – protecting potentially large numbers of individuals who may seek representation in the future.
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