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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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Law books

Supreme Court Holds No Double Jeopardy for Lawyer Discipline

In a case of first impression in Washington, the Supreme Court recently held that the double jeopardy provisions of the United States and Washington Constitutions do not apply to lawyer discipline proceedings. In re Waechter, ___ Wn.2d ___, 419 P.3d 827, 2018 WL 2977072 (June 14, 2018), involved a lawyer who had allegedly converted client […]

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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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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 Discusses Elected Prosecutor Conflicts

Division III of the Washington State Court of Appeals recently, in a split decision, drew from a 1988 death penalty case to refine the determination for when a prosecutor’s client conflict might extend to the office as a whole. State v. Nickels, ___ Wn. App. 2d___, 434 P.3d 535, 2019 WL 479494 (Feb. 7, 2019) […]

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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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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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Idaho Soon to Require Malpractice Insurance

The Idaho Supreme Court now requires malpractice insurance for lawyers in that state. For Washington lawyers who are also licensed in Idaho, the Idaho Supreme Court recently amended its licensing rule to soon require malpractice insurance for lawyers in private practice.

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New WSBA Advisory Opinion on Withdrawal

WSBA’s Committee on Professional Ethics recently released an advisory opinion on withdrawal issues in for public court proceedings.   The Washington State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics recently released an advisory opinion surveying withdrawal issues in the context of public court proceedings. Advisory Opinion 201701 primarily addresses what you can — and can’t — […]

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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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