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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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Strange New Trip: The Emerging World of Psychedelic Law and Decriminalization

After substances like LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstasy), and notably psilocybin (magic mushrooms) were classified as federally prohibited Schedule 1 drugs, a new wave of research into their therapeutic potential is growing, state and local governments are decriminalizing their use, and new areas of law are opening up. “Now there’s what’s referred to as a psychedelic renaissance …,” said Kathryn Tucker, special counsel at Emerge Law Group. “It’s just an incredible surge of interest.”

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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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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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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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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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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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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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