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California Legal Ethics Questions, Part I

Each year, new cases coming before the courts in California pose interesting questions about legal ethical issues relevant to practicing attorneys in California. Some current highlights include the following.

Case: Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP v. J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc. (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 590 — Second Appellate District, Division Four, January 29, 2016
Question: Is it sufficient to have a general, advance conflict-of-interest waiver in order to spare a firm from a finding that it violated Rules of Professional Conduct? In particular, this would regard rule 3-310, with the circumstances being a simultaneous conflict between existing clients? What do you think?
Case: Martin Potts & Associates, Inc. v. Corsair, LLC (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 432 — Second Appellate District, Division Two, January 28, 2016
Question: It is necessary for an attorney to always disclose reasons for a mistake, neglect, surprise or inadvertence in order for the client to have a default judgment vacated under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision, (b)? What do you think of this California legal ethics question?
Case: Ontiveros v. Constable (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 686 — Fourth Appellate District, Division One, February 18, 2016
Question: If there is a derivate suit, over which there is an objection from a minority shareholder, can an attorney continue to represent both the corporation, the majority shareholder and its CEO? What do you think?
Case: Costello v. Buckley (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 748 – Fourth Appellate District, Division One, March 16, 2016
Question: If a lawyer learns information about a client that is unrelated to existing representation, can the attorney later be adverse to the client in litigation where the information is material? What do you think?
Case: Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (2016) 62 Cal.4th 1176 — Supreme Court of California, March 17, 2016
Question: In what ways does a governmental entity’s inadvertent release of privileged documents waive attorney-client privilege or work-product privilege – in this case, the release was in response to a Public Records Act request. What do you think?