Cove of June 2022 Bar News

Status, History of Bar Structure Examined in Latest Bar News

This August, the WSBA Board of Governors is scheduled to wrap up its eight-month discussion about the very foundation of Washington’s mandatory, integrated bar and whether it should remain the same or undergo a structural change. The Board’s study process, ETHOS (Examining the Historical Organization and Structure of the Bar), is reaching the end of its mission from the Washington Supreme Court to answer three key questions about the Bar’s structure and the potential impact of federal litigation.

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Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Federal Court Finds No Personal Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Attorney

The federal district court in Tacoma recently concluded that it did not have personal jurisdiction over a Mississippi attorney and his law firm who handled matters in Louisiana and Virginia for a Washington client. Bullis v. Farrell, 2022 WL 656204 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 4, 2022) (unpublished), involved claims for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act by a Washington resident living in Dupont against a lawyer and his firm officed in Jackson, Mississippi. The claims arose out of lawsuits the lawyer handled for the client in Louisiana and Virginia. Neither of those involved conduct in Washington and the lawyer was not licensed in Washington.

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BarNews-DEC-JAN-2022

Analyzing the Year of the New Normal in Washington State Bar News

2021 has been a year of adaptation. Though we went into the year with cautious optimism of a return to normal, it seems that we are now coming to grips with a world in which we are collectively creating our new normal. As Mark Fucile explains in the latest Ethics & the Law column in Washington State Bar News, “there are a number of risk-management considerations for the work of a traditional law firm both inside and outside of a physical office.”

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A gavel on gray background, retro toned

Court of Appeals: New Management Entitled to Law Firm File

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals in Seattle recently held that new management of an entity is entitled to a law firm’s file involving work prepared for the entity under prior management. Although the case does not plow any new conceptual ground, it offers Washington support for this general proposition with specific reference […]

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An empty courtroom

Federal Court Looks to Choice-of-Law Provision in Legal Malpractice Case

The federal district court in Seattle recently looked to a choice-of-law provision in an engagement agreement in denying summary judgment on the statute of limitations in a legal malpractice case. U.S. Bank, N.A. v. The Glogowski Law Firm, 2021 WL 3375942 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 3, 2021) (unpublished), involved legal malpractice claims by the plaintiff bank against the defendant law firm for work in Washington and Oregon. A choice-of-law provision in the engagement agreement involved, however, designated Minnesota law as controlling because the bank is headquartered there.

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Feb 2022 Cover of Bar News with Justice Whitener

Black History Month, Bar Structure, and More in the February Bar News

Justice G. Helen Whitener is at the intersection of several identities: a gay woman, someone living with a disability, a first-generation immigrant, and the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court. In a wide-ranging interview with Justice Whitener, which is the featured story in the latest issue of the new Washington State Bar News, Hon. Lisa H. Mansfield asked the mentor, educator, and trailblazing judge, “In our society, a combination of all five intersecting identities does not necessarily add up to a life of success and abundance. In your case, it has. What has been your journey to achieving such abundance?”

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Federal Court Enforces Arbitration Provision in Engagement Agreement

The federal district court in Seattle recently enforced an arbitration provision in a lawyer’s engagement agreement in Dodo International, Inc. v. Parker, No. C20-1116-JCC, 2021 WL 4060402 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 7, 2021) (unpublished). The lawyer had represented some of the plaintiffs in a series of business transactions that the court described as “ill-fated.” Litigation followed against both the lawyer and the counterparties.

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Smiling female lawyer

Washington Court of Appeals Addresses ‘Professional Judgment’ Rule in Legal Malpractice

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed the “professional judgment” rule in Angelo v. Kindinger, 2022 WL 1008314 (Wn. App. Apr. 4, 2022). The rationale of the rule, which is a long-standing part of the decisional law of legal malpractice, is that a lawyer should not be held liable for malpractice for a good faith judgment within a range of reasonable alternatives.

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Cover of June 2021 Bar News

What are NFTs? Find Out in the Latest Issue of Bar News

In the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, attorneys David Sheldon and Leron Vandsburger answer some key NFT questions and explain the rights that are transferred through an NFT transaction and what legal professionals should know before talking to a client about whether to get into NFTs.

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Books

Washington Supreme Court Outlines Contours of Confidentiality Rule

The Washington Supreme Court recently addressed the scope of the confidentiality rule RPC 1.6 in In re Cross. Cross had represented a client in a criminal case arising out of an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle the client was driving. When the criminal case resolved, Cross and the client held a confidential discussion about the possibility of pursuing a product liability claim against the ATV manufacturer. Based on Cross’s advice, the client decided not to file a product liability claim. A passenger in the ATV accident later sued Cross’s by-then former client. When the former client’s defense lawyer in the civil case moved to add an affirmative defense attributing the accident to a product defect, the passenger opposed the motion. To support the opposition, the passenger’s lawyer obtained a declaration from Cross in which he disclosed the confidential conversation he had with the former client evaluating the possibility of bringing a product claim and revealing that the former client had decided not to pursue such a claim in light of the costs and risks. A bar grievance followed.

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Cover of April/May 2021 Bar News depicting a cow

Home on the Range and a Home of Our Own in Latest Bar News

For many, dairy farms will bring to mind pleasant imagery of placid cows nibbling grass and farmworkers ambling in the pre-dawn hours with stool and milking bucket in hand. In reality, the job of a dairy farmworker involves handling sometimes dangerous fully grown cows, machinery that can lead to injury or death, and long hours in a risky environment. These are some of the reasons why dairy farmworkers fought and won the right to overtime pay after the landmark Washington Supreme Court decision Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. In the newest issue of Washington State Bar News, Marc Lampson breaks down the court’s decision and provides a detailed history of dairy farming to explain how this battle for overtime pay and worker safety on dairy farms came about.

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Federal Court Looks at Prospective Client Rule

The federal district court in Seattle recently discussed the prospective client rule—RPC 1.18—in denying a motion to disqualify a law firm. Collins v. Nova Association Management Partners LLC, No. C20-1206-JCC, 2021 WL 2184879 (W.D. Wash. May 28, 2021) (unpublished), involved Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and related claims by a condominium unit owner against his owners association and its management company.

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An empty courtroom

Court of Appeals Voids Fee-Sharing Agreement

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals recently refused to enforce a fee-sharing agreement between two plaintiffs’ lawyers because the arrangement had not been confirmed in writing with the client as required by RPC 1.5(e)(1)(ii). Kayshel v. Chae, __ Wn. App.2d __, 483 P.3d 1285 (2021), involved an individual employment discrimination claim and a separate wage class action. The attorney who was retained initially by the client—the claimant in the individual case and the then-potential class representative in the class action—later associated another lawyer in the class action. The two lawyers eventually agreed on a fee split in percentage terms. They wrote the agreement by hand over breakfast and later confirmed the terms between themselves by email. Although the second lawyer related that he had received the client’s oral consent in a telephone call, the client was never presented with the written agreement.

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