Illustration of four attorneys

New WSBA Advisory Opinion on ‘Quadripartite’ Relationships

The WSBA Committee on Professional Ethics recently released advisory opinion No. 201802 addressing “quadripartite” relationships. “Tripartite” relationships among an insurer, the insured, and defense counsel have been delineated extensively in both court decisions and advisory opinions. “Quadripartite” relationships, by contrast, are a fairly new development and remain comparatively unplumbed. The term generally describes situations where […]

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A gavel in a courtroom.

Appeals Court Considers Prosecutor’s Subpoena for Letter Held by Former Defense Counsel

Ethics guru Mark Fucile analyzes a Court of Appeals decision to overturn a lower court’s ruling for contempt against a defendant’s former counsel. Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed a subpoena duces tecum to former counsel in State v. Rogers, ___ Wn. App. ___, 414 P.3d 1143, 2018 WL 1602957 (2018). […]

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The Hottest Legal News in the Summer Issue of NWLawyer

From corner to corner, Washington state is a geographic and geologic smorgasbord encompassing densely packed forest and glacial-carved craggy mountain peaks, copper-colored grasslands and scrubby deserts, crushed urban jungles and placid fertile hills. And Washington’s legal community is equally varied in what they love about where they work, from folks looking to escape the perpetually […]

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Legal marijuana sign in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.

New Marijuana-Related Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct

After voters approved Initiative 502 in November 2012 permitting and regulating “recreational” marijuana, questions immediately arose regarding the extent to which lawyers could advise and assist clients in state-authorized marijuana businesses. Washington RPC 1.2(d), like its ABA Model Rule counterpart, generally permits lawyers to advise clients on the legality of proposed conduct but prohibits lawyers […]

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U.S. District Court Highlights Importance of ‘Non-Engagement’ Letters

A recent decision from the U.S. District Court in Seattle highlights the importance of “non-engagement” letters: a letter or other communication to a non-client involved in the background context of a representation telling the non-client that the lawyer is not representing the non-client. Smartek21, LLC v. VisiKard, Inc., 2018 WL 5024031 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 17, […]

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Supreme Court Approves RPC Amendments on Imputed Conflicts

The Supreme Court recently approved Rules of Professional Conduct amendments addressing imputed conflicts for public defenders. The Washington Supreme Court recently approved a package of related Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) amendments addressing imputed conflicts for public defenders. “Imputed” conflicts are those shared by all law practitioners working in a single firm. Some public defenders […]

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People holding up signs with question marks

Federal Court Decision Highlights Importance of Engagement Agreements

A recent disqualification decision by the federal district court in Spokane highlights the importance of engagement agreements in defining who is — and who is not — the client. A recent disqualification decision by the federal district court in Spokane highlights the importance of engagement agreements in defining who is — and who is not […]

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handshake

Confirming When Representation Begins Matters

A recent decision by Division III of the Washington Court of Appeals illustrates the importance of confirming whether or not you have taken on a client at an initial meeting. Fechner v. Volyn, ___ Wn. App. ___, 418 P.3d 120, 2018 WL 2307703 (May 22, 2018), was painted against the backdrop of a medical malpractice […]

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Court of Appeals: Claiming Attorney Fees as Damages Waives Privilege

Attorney-client privilege is waived when claiming attorney fees for the work involved as damages, a Court of Appeals rules. Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals held recently that the attorney-client privilege is waived when claiming attorney fees for the work involved as damages in a subsequent legal malpractice case. Leen v. Defoe, 2018 […]

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Law books

New WSBA Advisory Opinion on Contacting Government Employees

The WSBA Committee on Professional Ethics recently released a new advisory opinion No. 201803 to address the contours of contacting government employees under Washington Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2. The rule generally prohibits communication with a person whom the contacting lawyer “knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter[.]” Under Wright v. Group […]

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Court of Appeals Discusses Implied Waiver of Privilege When Claiming Attorney Fees as Damages

Division I of the Court of Appeals recently discussed implied waiver of the attorney-client privilege when claiming attorney fees as damages. Bellevue Farm Owners Association v. Stevens, ___ Wn. App. ___, ___ P.3d ___, 2017 WL 1293482 (2017), was on discretionary review. The underlying litigation involved the development of waterfront property and included a counterclaim […]

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Gavel and Benjamins

Court of Appeals Interprets ‘Proceeds’ Attached by Attorney Lien in Dissolution Case

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals recently interpreted the term “proceeds” to which an attorney lien attached in a dissolution case. Matter of Marriage of Shulikov, 2017 WL 3476783 (Wn. App. Aug. 14, 2017) (unpublished), involved a dissolution case that had settled in trial court. The resolution involved payments of maintenance and child […]

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books on the table and glasses

Court of Appeals Rules on Authority of Insurance Defense Counsel

Division II of the Court of Appeals recently addressed the authority of insurance defense counsel in an unusual scenario: where defense counsel had no contact with the insured throughout the course of the litigation involved. Kruger-Willis v. Hoffenburg, 198 Wn. App. 408, 393 P.3d 844 (2017), arose out of an automobile accident. The defendant drove […]

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