For Members Ethics Opinions

Formal Opinions of the Professionalism and Ethics Committee

Table of Contents (1993–2014)

Opinion Number* Question Presented
OCBA 2022-01 Without obtaining a client’s consent, may an attorney include on her bio or resume or in other marketing materials information about the representation of that client or even the name of the client in a listing of representative clients?

OCBA 2014-01 Ghostwriting By Contract Lawyers and Out-of-State Lawyer: What ethical issues are raised when (1) a lawyer licensed to practice law only outside of California and who resides outside of California, or (2) a contract lawyer licensed to practice law in California, ghostwrites documents submitted to the court by another California lawyer?

OCBA 2012-01 Thrust-Upon Conflicts—If an attorney’s corporate client is acquired or is merged into a larger corporation, and that larger corporation is an adverse party in litigation the attorney is handling for a second client, what are the attorney’s ethical obligations following the acquisition or the merger?

OCBA 2011-02 What professional responsibilities does a lawyer have upon considering or accepting legal work and a board of directors position from an entity in which he is a current investor, but for which he has not performed legal services in the past?
OCBA 2011-01 Can a family lawyer enter into a collaborative law agreement consistent with her ethical duties, notwithstanding the obligations and limitations typically imposed on the lawyers in such agreements?

OCBA 2005-01 File Transfer and Work Product Rules Applicable to Electronic Files
  1. Must an attorney turn over electronic files when he or she already maintains, and intends to turn over to the client, hard paper copies of all of the documents contained in the electronic files?
  2. Duty to Transfer Electronic Files
  3. Compensation for Copying of Electronic Files
  4. Attorney Work Product Issues Regarding Metadata

OCBA 2003-02 Attorney-Client Sexual Relations
  1. California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-120
  2. The Dangers of Attorney-Client Sexual Relations
OCBA 2003-01 Client Perjury and the Criminal Defense Attorney
  1. What should a criminal defense attorney do when a client indicates that he or she will commit perjury?
  2. The Duty Not to Participate in the Presentation of Perjured Testimony
  3. The Proposed Evidentiary Standard: Actual Knowledge
  4. Choices When the Client Intends to Commit Perjury

OCBA 99-002 Fee Dispute — How may Attorney dispose of a settlement check made out to Client ONLY when Attorney has an express lien for fees and costs on any settlements or judgements?
OCBA 99-001
  1. Whether this billing is violative of the California Rules of Professional Conduct or the California Business & Professional Code;
  2. If violative, or in any case, is there a more prudent and professional manner in which to bill?

OCBA 97-002
  1. Whether the lawyer may discuss client matters with the client when either party is using a cellular phone.
  2. Whether the lawyer may communicate with clients using email. If so, must the e-mail be encrypted?
  3. Whether the lawyer may [use] a facsimile machine to transmit privileged or confidential documents. If so, what, if any, is the significance of the coversheet?

OCBA 95-002 May the court-appointed attorney express her own opinion regarding the advisability of a conservatorship to the court where her opinion is contrary to the wishes of the client?
OCBA 95-001 Did the physician’s attorney in this situation have a legal or ethical duty beyond truthfully answered the specific question asked by the administrative law judge?

OCBA 94-003
  1. Does the State Bar of California have the jurisdictional authority to discipline an elected prosecutor or his or her deputy for professional misconduct?
  2. What is the ethical obligation of a prosecutor in a contested matter to apprise the court of factual information of which that prosecutor is aware and which may be adverse to the position of his or her client?
OCBA 94-002 Is the paralegal practicing law in violation of the State Bar Act, which prohibits the practice of law by people not active in the State Bar?
OCBA 94-001 Under what circumstances is judge-attorney contact outside of the courtroom permissible.

OCBA 93-002 May an attorney offer a fee financing plan whereby clients obtain financing for legal fees through and independent financial institution at a typical consumer interest rate?
OCBA 93-001
  1. Whether an advertising letter, purportedly sent to express sympathy for parents whose child had recently been involved in a serious traffic accident, constitutes a forbidden communication to persons the solicitors should reasonably know are subject to mental or emotional pressures which might prevent them from exercising reasonable judgment in engaging legal counsel.
  2. Whether attorney’s statement that, based upon his or her review of a short newspaper article, parents have “a very good lawsuit against the city” constitutes a “prediction concerning the result of the representation” in violation of rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility.
  3. Whether attorney’s representation that parents’ case would be taken on a percentage basis and that parents would “have to pay [no] attorney’s fees if there is no recovery” is misleading in the context of a letter soliciting employment.
  4. Whether attorney’s representation that attorney’s office "specializes" in personal injury cases is misleading or inappropriate.
  5. Whether attorney’s representation that “consultations with [attorney] are always free” is misleading in the context of a letter soliciting employment.