State Bar’s Standing Committee Issues Formal Opinion Confirming Propriety of these Settlements.
Formal Opinion No. 2009-176 of the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct has concluded that (a) a lawyer does not violate any ethical obligation by recommending or conveying a fee-waiver settlement offer in a given case, and (2) a lawyer does not violate any ethical obligation by recommending or conveying fee-waiver settlement offers in cases generally. However, a plaintiff’s lawyer must inform the client of a fee-waiver settlement offer and consummate the settlement in accordance with the client’s desires even if it reduces the likelihood of recovering some or all of his/her fees.
We would like to thank Ellen R. Peck, a former State Bar Court judge and sole practitioner in Escondido, for making us aware of this opinion in her article “New State Bar Reporting Requirements,” published in the September 2009 issue of the California State Bar Journal. Ms. Peck also discusses new rules on conflicts of interest, Client Security Fund, Interest on Lawyer Trust Account, and e-mail address requirements for all members of the State Bar. (Remember: By February 1, 2010, all members must create an online profile through the bar’s secure membership system, which must include a valid e-mail address.)