Following is the 22nd post in a series from Parker Law Group about recent changes to the California Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). This rule is found in Chapter 6, which is titled “Public Service.”
As a new rule, this is not simply a revision of a previous rule. CBA’s Rule 6.3 addresses “membership in legal services organization” and can be seen here:
Rule 6.3 Membership in Legal Services Organization
A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, apart from the law firm in which the lawyer practices, notwithstanding that the organization serves persons having interests adverse to a client of the lawyer. The lawyer shall not knowingly participate in a decision or action of the organization:
(a) if participating in the decision or action would be incompatible with the lawyer’s obligations to a client under Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e)(1) or rules 1.6(a), 1.7, 1.9, or 1.18; or
(b) where the decision or action could have a material adverse effect on the representation of a client of the organization whose interests are adverse to a client of the lawyer.
This rule, as set forth above, explains that a lawyer can serve as an officer of a legal services organization to which he or she belongs, even if the organization’s members include those whose interests may be adverse to one of the lawyer’s clients. The rule, however, mentions two restrictions: the lawyer cannot participate in a decision or action of the organization if that action violates a client’s right to confidentiality OR if the decision or action would have a negative impact on representation of one of the organization’s clients … if that client’s interests are adverse to one of the lawyer’s clients.
The title of Rule 6.3 of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) RPC is the same as CBA’s Rule 6.3, and the wording found in both rules is almost identical.
Benefit: Generally speaking, the clear guidelines set forth in this rule should make it easier for lawyers to avoid potential conflicts (and possible future accusations of malpractice) in their dealings with any legal services organizations they choose to join.
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Rules of Professional Conduct, California Bar Association, American Bar Association, Legal Malpractice, Client Rights, Legal Representation, Confidentiality, Legal Services, Parker Law Group, Port Parker