For Attorneys
    For the Public
    About Us
    Counsel For Justice
    Law Students
    My Account

LACBA on Facebook.
LACBA on Twitter.
LACBA on LinkedIn.

Donate to the Counsel for Justice

Ethics Opinions

Los Angeles County Bar Association
Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee

More Information about the Committee

New! Archived Ethics Opinions (PDF format). These opinions pre-date the opinions shown on this page. If you seek a formal opinion not currently available below, please contact the Los Angeles Law Library at
(213) 78-LALAW (213-785-2529) or www.lalawlibrary.org.


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

#526 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
#525 Ethical Duties of Lawyers in Connection with Adverse Comments Published by a Former Client December 2012
#524 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
#523 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
#522 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
#521 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
#520 Duty to Inform Adverse Party Regarding Erroneous Settlement Payment June 2007
#519 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

#516  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 Listserv 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


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


Attorney Office Files - Release of Client Psychiatric Records to Former Client June 2002


Insurance Coverage Contacting a Defendant's Insurer February 2002


Accepting Percentage of Prospective Profits as Attorney Fees for Preparing and Prosecuting Patent Application October 2001


Initial Client Interview - Duty of Confidentiality January 2001


Engagement Agreement Restrictions on Client Settlement Authority August 2000
#504 An Attorney's Duty to Follow a Client's Explicit Instruction not to Disclose Confidential Information in the Context of a Minor Client's Disclosure of On-Going Sexual Abuse in Dependency Proceedings May 2000
#503 Prepaying Referral Fees on Workers' Compensation Cases January 2000
#502 Lawyers' Duties When Preparing Pleadings or Negotiating Settlement for In Pro Per Litigant November 1999


Conflicts of Interest - Changing Law Firms - Conflicts That Follow a Lawyer from One Firm to Another - Circumstances Under Which Conflicts May Be Imputed to Others at a New Law Firm
May 1999;


Financing Legal Expenses of Another's Lawsuit
May 1999


Charging Interest on Costs Advanced on Behalf of a Client
March 1999


Disclosure of Client Misrepresentation in a Fee Dispute
March 1999


Consulting with a Client during a Deposition
March 1999


Liens on Recovery in Unrelated Case
November 1998


Attorney Payment of Reasonably Incurred Litigation Expenses for Which Client Refuses to Pay
November 1998


Communications and Solicitations: Cold Calling for Legal Seminar and Mailing of Newsletter (PDF format)
October 1998


Disputes between Former Clients over Transfer of Original Client Files
September 1998


Attorneys Must Comply with Rule 3-300 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct When Accepting a Security Interest in Real Property to Ensure Payment of Fees by a Client Whenever the Attorney Knows the Client Has any Interest in the Property
January 1998


Attorney Office Files - Destruction When Client Deceased
October 1997


Ex Parte Communications to Party Directed in Care of Attorney; Ex Parte Communication with Adverse Witnesses
May 1997


Language in Retainer Agreement May Not Restrain Client's Remedies for Legal Malpractice
April 1997


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
November 1994


Medical Liens (PDF format) July 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 (PDF format)
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


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)


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

#275 Contingent Fees (PDF format)
January 31, 1963


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

#268 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 .


Return to Top