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Recent Blog Posts

Lawyers Must Cite the Law Correctly–And Disclose Adverse Authority

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS MUST DISCLOSE KNOWN & CONTROLLING LEGAL AUTHORITY A lawyer’s duty of candor includes both positive and negative duties relating to legal authority. When presenting arguments and evidence to a court or other tribunal: A lawyer must: Use only means that are consistent with the truth (California Business & Professions Code Section 6068(d)) Disclose… Read More »

Lawyers Must Not Lie, or Destroy or Suppress Evidence

By Robert Ross |

A lawyer’s duty of candor impacts the way lawyers can present and handle evidence. Essentially, the duty requires lawyers to be honest, and straightforward when dealing with judges, juries, and legal proceedings. Let’s look at some of the ways this duty impacts a lawyer’s actions. LAWYERS MAY NOT MISLEAD JUDGES OR JURIES Lawyers cannot… Read More »

Can Lawyers Lie to the Court?

By Robert Ross |

Short answer: NO. LAWYERS HAVE A “DUTY OF CANDOR” TO COURTS AND OTHER TRIBUNALS When a lawyer represents a client in front of a “tribunal” (which includes not only litigation in a trial court or on appeal, but arbitration and other formal dispute resolution proceedings also) the lawyer cannot: Knowingly lie, or make false… Read More »

When is “Zealous Advocacy” Legal Malpractice?

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS HAVE A DUTY TO REPRESENT CLIENTS ‘ZEALOUSLY” AND COMPETENTLY Lawyers have a legal duty to represent their clients “zealously” and competently. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “Zealous” as “marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal.” The Cambridge online dictionary says it means “enthusiastic and eager.” Changed to a noun, the… Read More »

Closing a Skill Gap: Acquiring Legal Competence

By Robert Ross |

IS A LAWYER ALLOWED ACQUIRE THE NECESSARY COMPETENCE TO REPRESENT A CLIENT DURING THE REPRESENTATION? While this may seem surprising, the answer is yes–sometimes. As a general rule, a lawyer cannot accept a case where the lawyer is too busy or too inexperienced to provide competent representation. However, a lawyer who has the time and interest… Read More »

When Is a Lawyer Required to Refuse a Case?

By Robert Ross |

DO LAWYERS HAVE TO ACCEPT EVERY CASE? No. In fact, in some situations, lawyers cannot accept a case or agree to represent a certain client.   LAWYERS HAVE A DUTY TO REFUSE CERTAIN CASES AND CLIENTS Various laws and ethics rules govern the cases (and clients) a lawyer can–and cannot–accept. Generally, lawyers have a duty not to… Read More »

Do Lawyers Have to Take Pro-Bono Cases?

By Robert Ross |

CALIFORNIA LAWYERS HAVE NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO REPRESENT PRO-BONO CLIENTS Both the American Bar Association and the California Bar Association strongly encourage lawyers to take on pro-bono cases. However, California lawyers are not required to perform any pro-bono legal work as part of standard licensing requirements. (“Pro Bono” means “for the good” and usually refers… Read More »

Is it Malpractice if a Lawyer Refuses to Take a Case?

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO TAKE ON EVERY CASE A PROSPECTIVE CLIENT BRINGS THEM While there are circumstances in which a lawyer may be required, or strongly encouraged, to take a case, those circumstances rarely involve truly “private” legal matters. In other words, no, it often (and, in most cases, usually) is not malpractice for… Read More »

Lawyers Have a Duty to Tell the Truth

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS HAVE A DUTY TO “EMPLOY MEANS CONSISTENT WITH THE TRUTH.” There are so many jokes about lawyers being dishonest that it surprises many people to learn that lawyers have a duty to tell the truth. California Business & Professions Code Section 6068, which establishes (some) of the duties of lawyers, says that every… Read More »

Do Lawyers Have to Obey the Law?

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS HAVE A LEGAL AND ETHICAL DUTY TO OBEY THE LAW As a general rule, everyone has a duty to obey the law (with the caveat that civil disobedience is a lengthy topic for a different day) – including lawyers. Despite the old joke that asks “How can you tell when lawyers are  lying?”… Read More »

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