Ethics Opinions

Los Angeles County Bar Association Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee

Please note:   We are in the process of compiling additional archived Ethics Opinions and will be including them on our website.   In the meantime, if you're looking for an opinion that is not posted below, please contact our Member Services Department at (213) 896-6560 or MSD@lacba.org.

Legal Advice and Assistance to Clients Who Propose to Engage or Are Engaged in the Cultivation, Distribution or Consumption of Marijuana August 2015

Contingency Lawyer's Right to Negotiate a Fee Agreement that Gives First Proceeds to the Lawyer and Shifts to the Client the Risk of Nonpayment February 2015

Ethical Duties of Lawyers in Connection with Adverse Comments Published by a Former Client December 2012

What are the Ethical Responsibilities of an Attorney With Regard to the Hiring of Nonlawyer Employees Who May Be in Possession of Confidential Information? May 2011

Can a Lawyer Ethically Agree with a Client to a Contingency Fee Which is Based on a Percentage of the Combined Amount of Damages and Any Statutory Fees Awarded? June 2009

Whether a Lawyer for Corporate Entity Engaged in Debt Collection Aids and Abets the Unauthorized Practice of Law or Violates the Rules of Professional Conduct for Failure to Supervise Employees, and Seeking Attorneys' Fee Awards Based upon the Legal Work of the Entity's Unlicensed Employees June 2009

Does a Lawyer or Law Firm Have an Ethical Conflict of Interest When a Fee Dispute Arises with a Client During the Representation? May 2007

Duty to Inform Adverse Party Regarding Erroneous Settlement Payment June 2007

Whether There Is a Self-Defense Exception to an Attorney's Duty to Protect and Preserve Confidential Client Information in order to Permit the Attorney to Defend against Third Party Claims February 2007

Ethical Considerations in Outsourcing of Legal Services June 2006

Indemnification of Client's Litigation Costs April 2006

Ethical Considerations Relating to an Attorney Who Concurrently Serves in an Of Counsel Relationship with a Law Firm and Maintains a Separate Solo Practice Revised July 21, 2014

Ethical Issues Arising from Agreements between Attorney and Client to Split an Award of Statutory Attorney's Fees August 2005

Ethical Issues Involving Lawyer and Judicial Participation in Listserve Communications August 2005

Cross-Examination of Former Client as Expert Witness July 2005

Confidentiality of Fact and Amount of Settlement in Settlement Agreement February 2004

Sharing in Fees as Partner or Employee of Two Law Firms December 2003

Attorney Office Files - Release Of Client Psychiatric Records To Former Client June 17, 2002

Fee Sharing Between Financial Planning Company and Lawyer Employee Rendering Legal Services to Customers December 2003

Communications and Solicitations: Cold Calling for Legal Seminar and Mailing of Newsletter October 1998

Use of Law Office Management Services
June 1996

Ex Parte Contact with Represented Individual
February 1996

Referral Fees
November 1995

Client Trust Accounts
October 1995

Commingling of Client Trust Account Funds
October 1995


Limited Representation of In Pro Per Litigants March 1995

Representations Made to Opposing Counsel and the Court-Expert Witness March 1995

Ethical Duties to Opt-Out Members of a Class March 1995

Restriction on Lawyer Competition March 1995

Duty to Inform Client of Fees (PDF format) Revised November 21, 1994

Medical Liens - Disbursement of Client Funds (PDF format) July 18, 1994

Conflicts of Interest - Dual Profession PDF format) June 1994

Attorney/Client Scope of Representation - Conflicts of Interest Where Fee Dispute Has Arisen (PDF format) April 1994

Client Papers - Duty to Retain or Return (PDF format) January 1994

Unethical Use of Private Investigator to Solicit Clients September 1993

Attorney and Client - Representation of Client by Additional Attorneys - Division of Fees (PDF format) January 1993

Contact with Represented Persons (Business Organization Principals)(PDF format) January 1993

Conflicts of Interest - Informed Consent (PDF format) December 1992

Payment of Year-End Bonus To an "Of Counsel" Attorney (PDF format) November 1992

Advocacy and Representation - Threatening Criminal, Administrative or Disciplinary Charges (PDF format)June 1992

Restrictions on Practice of Law - Conflicts of Interest (Settlement Agreement Conditions Regarding Attorney Representation or Attorney Conflict of Interest Claim) (PDF format) March 1992

Client Consent to Referral Fee (PDF format) February 1992

Attorney and Client - Disclosure of Evidence of Crime Received from Client (PDF format) November 1991

#465 Attorney and Client - Representation of Conflicting Interests - Confidential Communications - Informed Consent (Need Mutual Consent of Alien and Employer to Represent Employee in Permanent Resident Visa Application) (PDF format) April 1991

Conflicts of Interest - Insurer and Insured - Cumis Counsel - Ethical Duty of Lawyer to Follow Insured's Instructions in Conduct of Litigation (PDF format) February 1991

Adverse and Conflicting Interests - Confidential Information (Former Client's Consent to Disclose Material Information to Current Client with Whom She is Entering into a Financial Arrangement) (PDF format) December 1990

Preparation of a Will in Which the Attorney Acquires an Interest (PDF format) November 1990

Division of Fees with a Non-Lawyer - Representing Clients with Conflicting Interests (Property Management Firm and Its Clients) (PDF format) September 1990

Restrictive Retirement Payments (PDF format) August 1990

Adverse and Conflicting Interests (Juvenile Dependency Proceeding) (PDF format) May 1990

Contingency Fee Contract - Client's Knowledgeable Consent - Insurance Recovery (PDF format) January 1990

Compensation of Non-Attorney Staff Based on Work Quality (PDF format) November 1989

Confidential Communications (Information in Lawyer's Bills) (PDF format) August 1989

Purchase of Property at a Foreclosure/Judicial Sale (PDF format) August 1989

Ethical Responsibilities to Third Parties in Handling Trust Accounts (PDF format) January 1988

Representation of Criminal Defendant by Member of Firm Acting as City Prosecutor (PDF format) January 1989

Confidential Information - Disclosure in Bankruptcy Process by Former Counsel of Debtor Who is Trying to Collect Fee (PDF format) November 1988

Publication of Legal Article by Lawyer Related to a Client's Case (PDF format)

Action Against Present or Former Client. It is improper for an attorney to bring an action for appointment of conservator for a present or former client, within the scope of the representation of the client, even where the attorney believes that a conservatorship is in the client's best interest. May 16, 1988

Attorney's Fees: Settlements Restricting Fees in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Cases (PDF format) September 1987

Duty of Loyalty - Conflict of Interest - Insured and Insurance Company (PDF format) January 1984

Confidential Communication - Client Receipt of Funds to Which It May Not be Entitled (PDF format) June 1983

Attorney and Client - Disclosure of Client Perjury (PDF format) November 1980

Disclosure of Financial Information Regarding Client Eligibility by Legal Aid Attorney to Board of Directors (PDF format ) July 21, 1976

Confidential Communications (Illegal Issuance of Securities) (PDF format ) February 12, 1976

Adverse and Conflicting Interests (PDF format) February 21, 1963

Contingent Fees (PDF format) January 31, 1963

Confidential Communications - Files (PDF format) October 25, 1962

Advertising (PDF format) February 16, 1960

Confidential Communications (PDF format) January 26, 1960

Confidential Communications (preventing a crime)(PDF format) July 30, 1959



The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee will consider requests from LACBA members for formal opinions on ethics matters of general interest to the bar. The committee does not opine on matters of law or offer opinions for the benefit of particular clients or in response to matters presently in dispute. The committee may respond to written questions about ethical matters of general interest through a private informal letter or a published formal opinion. If you have an ethical question that you would like the committee to consider, mail your written inquiry to: Los Angeles County Bar Association, Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee, P.O. Box 55020, Los Angeles, CA 90055-2020 or email your inquiry marked “Confidential” to msd@lacba.org.


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