New Rules Could Reshape Legal Field for California Lawyers

The California State Bar made some major changes in its overhaul of state legal conduct. The new rules and regs come into effect November 1, 2018. If you practice law or will soon, these changes are top priority for you. Below we list a number of these changes and the effects on your law firms.

You’ve probably seen the updates on the California State Bar website.

The California Supreme Court reviewed the major changes over the last 14 months before issuing the first major changes to the Bar rules in 29 years. Overall, there are 69 amended rules or new ones. The new text takes up 112 pages and the Justices approved them unanimously. Several of the suggested changes were not adopted by the court in the final draft.

Significant Changes for the Legal Field

The Supreme Court issued a number of major directives including:

Changing conflict of interest rules so that they are clearer for attorneys. This includes a number of conflict disclosure and non-representation changes.

There are now prohibitions on attorneys harassing, discriminating, and retaliating against others. This covers both within law firms themselves and within their practice of law. Lawyers cited for such misbehavior would have to notify both state and federal agencies.

The Supreme Court stipulated that lawyers cannot sleep with their clients in most cases. This includes all cases unless there was a previous relationship. The Court also deleted a rule about lawyers’ responsibilities for clients that had “diminished capacities.”

Overall, the changes are a series of tweaks that bring the California Bar closer to ABA standards. In most daily practices, this should not severely impact practice. In addition, they are put together in a comprehensive document. One of the real questions is: will you be ready for the changes when they take effect next month?