New California Ethics Rules for Lawyers

In 2018, California updated its Rules of Professional Conduct for CA-licensed lawyers. Some highlights:

  • Reorganized to follow the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, finally joining the other 49 states that already do so;
  • Requires all law firm lawyers to “advocate corrective action to address known harassing or discriminatory conduct by the firm or any of its attorneys or non-attorney personnel” (see Rule 8.4 which defines “knowingly permit”);
  • Bans sex with clients, even if consensual, unless the sexual relationship predated the attorney-client relationship (see Rule 1.8.10).

This update is a complete reorganization of the rules, and there is a chart that maps the old rules to the new rules.

Actually New Rules. The following is a (linked!) list of all the actually new rules that do not have an old counterpart.

Rule 1.2: Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority
Rule 1.8.2: Use of Current Client’s Information3
Rule 1.8.11: Imputation of Prohibitions Under Rules 1.8.1 to 1.8.9
Rule 1.10: Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule
Rule 1.11: Special Conflicts of Interest for Former and Current Government Officials and Employees
Rule 1.12: Former Judge, Arbitrator, Mediator or Other Third-Party Neutral
Rule 2.1: Advisor
Rule 2.4: Lawyer as Third-Party Neutral
Rule 3.2: Delay of Litigation
Rule 3.9: Advocate in Non-adjudicative Proceedings
Rule 4.1: Truthfulness in Statements to Others
Rule 4.3: Communicating with an Unrepresented Person
Rule 4.4: Duties Concerning Inadvertently Transmitted Writings
Rule 6.3: Membership in Legal Services Organizations

These are still mostly common sense, but there are now more explicit rules governing a lot of behavior we already consider to be best practice. See especially Rules 4.1, 4.3, and 4.4.

And you’re welcome. If life was fair this would have earned me an hour of legal ethics credit.