Duty of Loyalty Nicely Explained

Reading an unpublished BAP opinion, the panel reminds me not only of my duty of loyalty, but that this duty continues even after I am done representing my client because an attorney may not do anything which will injuriously affect a former client.   Oasis W. Realty, LLC v. Goldman, 51 Cal. 4th 811, 821 (2011).

The best part was reading California Supreme Court’s recitation of the duty of loyalty over 80 years ago:

One of the principal obligations which binds an attorney is that of fidelity, the maintaining inviolate the confidence reposed in him by those who employ him, and at every peril to himself to preserve the secrets of his client.   This obligation is a very high and stringent one.   It is also an attorney’s duty to protect his client in every possible way, and it is a violation of that duty to assume a position adverse or antagonistic to his client without the latter’s free and intelligent consent given after full knowledge of all the facts and circumstances.   By virtue of this rule an attorney is precluded from assuming any relation which would prevent him from devoting his entire energies to his client’s interests.   Nor does it matter that the intention and motives of the attorney are honest.   The rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to preclude the honest practitioner from putting himself in a position where he may be required to choose between conflicting duties, or be led to attempt to reconcile conflicting interests, rather than to enforce to their full extent the rights of the interest which he should alone represent.

Anderson v. Eaton, 211 Cal. 113, 116 (1930).

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