All posts in Ethics Corner

Eavesdropping under California law – Penal code 632

I have always wondered where it says you cannot record a telephone conversation.  It’s California Penal Code section 632(a), called eavesdropping.

CHAPTER 1.5. Invasion of Privacy [630 – 638.55]

(a) A person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop upon or record the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment. . . . .

What is all of that in English?

1.  The conversation must be “confidential” meaning at least one of the parties “desires it to be confined to the parties thereto,” Penal Code section 632(c) which specifically carves out conversations in a public gathering.

2.  The recording of the conversation must be without the consent of all parties to the conversation.  I wonder if the statement you hear while waiting on the phone that “this conversation may be recorded” constitutes consent by all parties.  It must be since it happens so often.

Federal Bar Assn 17th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium November 20, 2020

Email from Joe Boufadel:


The Federal Bar Association is hosting (online only) its 17th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium on Friday, November 20, 2020, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (3 hours of legal ethics).  I hope and encourage you all to attend again this year (and registration takes less than a minute to complete online). Please note there is a discounted rate for all FBA, CDCBAA and LABF members, and it’s inexpensive for non-members as well. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Click here to register online for the symposium on November 20, 2020      Click here to download the PDF event flyer.

Federal Bar Association-Los Angeles Chapter’s 17th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium

Friday, November 20, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.   Online Only (GoToMeeting)

Read more…

Ps and As to use in a Motion to Withdraw

Some nice language from a Judge Kaufman tentative re withdrawing as counsel for the debtor.

Pursuant to California Rule of Professional Conduct (“CRPC”) 3-700(C)(1), an attorney may request permission to withdraw as counsel if the client:

(d) by other conduct renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively;

Pursuant to CRPC 3–700(A)(2):

A member shall not withdraw from employment until the member has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, including giving due notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, complying with rule 3-700(D), and complying with applicable laws and rules.

“[T]he court has discretion to deny an attorney’s request to withdraw where such withdrawal would work an injustice or cause undue delay in the proceeding.” Mandell v. Superior Court, 67 Cal. App. 3d 1, 4 (Ct. App. 1977); see also Estate of Falco, 188 Cal. App. 3d 1004, 1014 (Ct. App. 1987) (“To protect the best interests of the client, a trial court should have broad discretion in allowing attorneys to withdraw.”). Read more…

FBA 15th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium – November 16, 2018

Email from my friend Joe Boufadel,


Good morning. I’m chairing this year’s Federal Bar Association’s 15th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium on Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Roybal Federal Building (3.5 hours of legal ethics).  This year, we have another great line-up of speakers and programs. I know many of you have attended in the past, and I encourage all of you to attend again. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  Thank you.

            Click here to register online

            Click here for flyer and additional event information

FBA’s 15th Annual Bankruptcy Ethics Symposium

Friday, November 16, 2018

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Roybal Federal Building, Conference Room 283

255 E. Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Read more…

Ethics Corner: B & P 6068. “It is the duty of an attorney to do all of the following:”

I have been reviewing the Business & Professions Code section 6000 et seq, preparing for the cdcbaa Ethics program on July 21, 2018.  Here is a pretty key section:


It is the duty of an attorney to do all of the following:

(a) To support the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state.

(b) To maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.

(c) To counsel or maintain those actions, proceedings, or defenses only as appear to him or her legal or just, except the defense of a person charged with a public offense.

(d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him or her those means only as are consistent with truth, and never to seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.

(e) (1) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself to preserve the secrets, of his or her client.

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Nice Definition of Of Counsel

Haven’t you wondered what Of Counsel means?  The new Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California (effective November 10, 2018) tell us in Comment (2) to Rule 1.0.1 “Terminology.”  The definition is

The term “of counsel” implies that the lawyer so designated has a relationship with the law firm,* other than as a partner* or associate, or officer or shareholder, that is close, personal, continuous, and regular.

It’s a little strange that the definition is not in the definitions – only in the comments to the definitions.

By the way, the new rules are here.

Ethics and Getting Paid – Prof. Nancy Rapoport – July 21, 2018

Prof. Nancy Rapoport is our guest speaker along with Judge Erithe Smith for the cdcbaa Fifth Annual Jim King Bankruptcy Symposium.  Below is her top 15 most downloaded articles.  They can all be downloaded here.



Lord of the Flies (1963): Development of Rules Within an Adolescent Culture

SCREENING JUSTICE – THE CINEMA OF LAW: SIGNIFICANT FILMS OF LAW, ORDER AND SOCIAL JUSTICE, Rennard Strickland, Teree E. Foster & Taunya Lovell Banks, eds., William S. Hein & Co., 2006, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-21
Number of pages: 23 Posted: 05 Dec 2006 Last Revised: 29 May 2008
Nancy B. Rapoport
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Enron, Titanic, and the Perfect Storm

Fordham Law Review, Vol. 71, p. 1373, 2003
Number of pages: 23 Posted: 10 Feb 2004
Nancy B. Rapoport
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

California State Bar Assn Looking for Public Comments to Ethics Rules Amendments

The California State Bar assn has sixty-eight proposed new and amended rules.  It is looking for comments from the “public,” presumably us.  The proposed Rules including the changes and amendments can be found here.  Its worth looking this over.

It’s worth remembering that there are also lots of rules in the California Business & Professions Code.  The relevant sections are below. Read more…

Ethics Corner – When is Depositing Funds into Client Trust Account Required?

New California Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 requires that “all funds ‘including advances for fees, costs and expenses,'” received by the lawyer from the client or on behalf of the client must be deposited into a client trust account IF the atty “owes a contractual, statutory, or other legal duty” to the client, while for other cases like injury cases in accidents the use of Fielding Law Car accident lawyers are the best for these cases.

In English you say?  If it’s the client’s money it has to go into the client trust account with two exceptions set forth below.  It is the attorney’s money if he sends the client a bill and the client pays it, although for other problems as accident and injuries the Full Tort vs. Limited Tort | PA Limited Tort Lawyers | Simon & Simon law firm could be really helpful for this.

.  If the attorney gets money for work TO BE DONE, it’s the client’s money and must be deposited into the client trust account  – see exceptions below.

Exception 1 – a flat fee.  BUT, the atty must -in writing – tell the client that he can require that the money be put into the trust account AND that the client is entitled to refund if the work isn’t done.  IF the the flat fee exceeds $1,000, the client must sign the “writing.”

Exception 2 – a “true retainer.”  Per Rule 1.5(d), “A true retainer is a fee that a client pays to a lawyer to ensure the lawyer’s availability to the client during a specified period or on a specified matter, but not to any extent as compensation for legal services performed or to be performed.”  Once paid, the money no longer belongs to the client and doesn’t need to be deposited into the trust account.