Following is the 51st 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” and focuses on misconduct. This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 8.4 Misconduct
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) violate these rules or the State Bar Act, knowingly assist, solicit, or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or reckless or intentional misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official, or to achieve results by means that violate these rules, the State Bar Act, or other law; or
(f) knowingly assist, solicit, or induce a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of an applicable code of judicial ethics or code of judicial conduct, or other law. For purposes of this rule, “judge” and “judicial officer” have the same meaning as in rule 3.5(c).
The new version of this rule – Rule 8.4 in CBA’s revised RPC – has been significantly expanded. What was once a 20-word sentence warning lawyers against assisting in, soliciting, or inducing any violation of the RPC or the State Bar Act (in Rule 1-120) is now a detailed rule with six subdivisions – Rule 8.4(a)-(f). As set forth above, these subdivisions spell out several types of misconduct, including committing a criminal act that reflects on an attorney’s honesty or fitness as a lawyer, engaging in fraud or deceit, and implying an ability to improperly influence a government agency or official in order to obtain a favorable outcome in a legal matter.
Rule 8.4 of the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Model RPC is very similar to the CBA’s revised version of this rule, except for the last subdivision in the ABA’s rule – (g), which doesn’t match any of the wording in the CBA’s rule. ABA’s Rule 8.4(g) says the following:
… engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. This paragraph does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16. This paragraph does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.
Benefit: Generally speaking, with the detailed clarification now found in this rule, clients are less likely to run into issues arising from potential misconduct by their attorney.
The information provided herein is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice or as an agreement for representation. This is not an advertisement. If you have an issue or dispute with your attorney, or are seeking advice with respect to your obligations, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Parker Law Group is a full-service litigation and transactional law firm. Mr. Parker has represented clients in professional malfeasance disputes for over 23 years. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with Mr. Parker or his team, you can reach them at (916)996-0400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. (An email to the law firm requesting a consultation does not create an attorney-client relationship or any agreement for representation by the firm.)
Rules of Professional Conduct, California Bar Association, American Bar Association, Legal Malpractice, Legal Representation, Client Rights, Misconduct, Parker Law Group, Port Parker