Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist

California

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A Professional Responsibility Checklist for Legal Professionals

This innovative Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist includes Embedded Lawyer-Logic that will assist you in either:

✅ Practicing Professional Responsibility Essays in preparation for the California [CA] Bar Exam;

✅ Improving your understanding of the ABA Rules in preparation for the MPRE Exam; or

✅ Assisting you to gain a quick understanding of the relevant legal ethics rules applicable to each new legal matter or situation you are deciding whether to be involved in (or continue to be involved in) in your ongoing day-to-day legal practice as an Attorney/Lawyer in California, USA.

This initial release of the checklist provides guidance under both the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules and the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

✅ Assisting you to gain a quick understanding of the relevant legal ethics rules applicable to each new legal matter or situation when you are deciding whether to be involved in (or continue to be involved in) the matter as part of your ongoing day-to-day legal practice as an Attorney/Lawyer in California, USA.

Why was this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist created?

In order to master the second leg of Brian Hahn's tripod (for the full story please read my blog article: How I (an Australian Lawyer) passed the July 2022 California Bar Exam) I took on board his advice that a structured approach is essential to maximise the number of issues spotted in any essay (and as a consequence - the point score awarded by the graders).

I used Brian’s issue flowchart (Approsheets) + the Magicsheets (succinct notes) as a starting point to create this online structured “issue-spotting” tool for the Professional Responsibility Essay.

To make this free online tool better for everyone, your feedback is most welcome!

Step-by-Step Instructions ➲ Practice California [CA] Professional Responsibility Essays

To help you learn how to apply this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist (automatically from memory) on the CA Bar Exam you will need to make a habit of applying this entire checklist for each Attorney/Lawyer involved in each practice essay.

1️⃣ Mix it Up

Apply this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist to automatically generate a "cooked" CA Essay and stop there or continue to convert the generated "cooked" outline into a fully-worked essay answer depending on how much time you have and what your level of focus is at the time.

2️⃣ Repeat for every Lawyer in the call of the essay question

Continue to repeat the application of this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist to all lawyers that the call of the essay question is wanting you to discuss.

Some essays will raise Professional Responsibility as a crossover topic.

When this occurs, continue to apply the checklist in the same way, one lawyer at a time.

3️⃣ Fully Assess

Lastly, take all the time you need to fully assess the "cooked" part-essays (for each lawyer) this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist generates as well as the fully-worked essays you complete against the model +/or scored CA essay questions.

👨‍💻 Mindnumbingly repeating the above steps will help you build confidence regarding how effective using a checklist is in creating a good "cooked" essay or part-essay outline and how well this sets you up to be able to write a fully-worked high-scoring practice essay.

⌛️ Work towards achieving solid outlines and fully-worked essays with no time pressure and an open book [Brian Hahn's Magicsheets are highly recommended] (and then eventually with no notes under time pressure).

🏁 Eventually, your aim should be able to tackle PR Essay questions without needing to work through this Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist.

Planned Future Development

At a later date, it is planned to integrate the Australian Solicitor Conduct Rules and the New Zealand Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care Rules so that lawyers in multiple legal jurisdictions can quickly navigate different ethical rules according to the legal jurisdiction applicable to the matter.

It is also planned to add the ability to automatically generate Plain English Explanations as an alternative option.

Important Notes:

This Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist was designed and tested in December 2022.

This Lawyer Professional Responsibility Checklist is only a generic guide and is not a substitute for professional ethics advice from an ethics specialist.

If you are unsure regarding the application of the ethics rules to your circumstances we recommend you consult directly with your local designated ethics support person.

Intellectual Property Rights Notice

This Legal Wizard has been designed and developed with care 👨‍💻 by James D. Ford | Admitted to Practice as a Lawyer in Australia, New Zealand and California, U.S.A.| ⚖️ Principal Solicitor of Blue Ocean Law Group.

© 2022. Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Social Sharing Image: Licensed Adobe Stock Image

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Blue Ocean Law Group's website has plenty of information in easy, layman's language that explains how Defamation Law works in Australia and from there, it was really easy to book an appointment online. James is a thoroughly professional Lawyer and it was a pleasure dealing with him. Keep up the good work, James! Cheers! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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General FAQ

What lies ahead for the future of the Legal Profession?

To answer this question I refer you to my article Charting the future of the Legal Profession: A Blue Ocean Perspective which was published in the Legal Business World Magazine Xmas 2018 Edition.

LBW Article Cover page

Since that time [circa 3 years ago] I posted the following update on LinkedIn:

Today I am reflecting on the past 12+ months since my article was published in the International Xmas 2018 edition of LegalBusinessWorld.

Q: How much has the Australian legal profession actually changed?

A: The report published by Alpha Creates on the State of legal innovation in the Australian market [2019] is a great benchmark summary.

The focus continues to be on structural + business model change (M&A, geographic expansion, increased NewLaw entrants incl. Legal Tech startups + NewLaw skunkworks spun off by BigLaw to complete in this space, Big4 increasing their presence).

Q: How successful is the idea of publishing the article as a hybrid mix of text + online content [Smart Lists]?

A: Whilst the article itself remains "as published", the Smart Lists linked to it have been + continue to be updated as new relevant + interesting content is created/discovered.

Our Master Smart List has now [as at October 2021] exceeded 48,000 views (well over quadruple the number at the time the article was published).

[Update as at 21 Oct 2021: > 48,000]

These are organic views with no $$ spent on promotion.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Blue Ocean Opportunities in the Legal Profession

*An estimated 70-80% of Australians fail to contact a lawyer when experiencing a legal issue

When Blue Ocean Strategy® is applied to the legal profession a large untapped market* can be quickly identified.

To find out more please read our blog article: How to Achieve Zen-Like “Peace of Mind” knowing your Legal Affairs are in Order

*An estimated 70-80% of Australians fail to contact a lawyer when experiencing a legal issue.

Blue Ocean Law Group℠ have packaged our legal services to provide simple [Self-Service] online 24/7 solutions for everyday personal + business legal needs + made them available anywhere (even via mobile phone if necessary) via a fixed price per document, or an affordable subscription model.

Creating Legal Docs for clients. Is this giving legal advice?

When you create Legal Docs for Clients. Is this considered giving legal advice? or is your role that of a mere scribe?

If your role is merely that of a "scribe or scrivener" as outlined below it is unlikely you would be deemed to be providing legal advice or engaging in the practice of law.

Caution: Some Online Legal Documents have evolved!

Unfortunately this is not as easy as it once was … when online legal document templates were all static "fill in the blanks" one-size-fits-all templates.

Increasingly, the capabilities + complexities of legal document automation have evolved to cater to an ever widening range of facts and conditions.

Using the complex design + incorporation of what we call Embedded-Lawyer Logic it is no longer possible to avoid the automated tailoring of the online legal document to suit the client's circumstances + legal needs.

They are designed to produce a quality bespoke legal document just like a lawyer does.

The use of Embedded-Lawyer-Logic™ in the online process:

✅ Is now very similar to a client being interviewed by a lawyer;

✅ It drills down to ask the same questions and provide the same options a highly experienced + competent lawyer is required to do.

As a result the draft legal document created now has the potential to vary significantly based on the responses provided by the client.

We have now progressed to the point that the new normal online process is designed to cause your role to fall outside of the role of a "scribe or scrivener" alluded to below.

In the leading case on this issue Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [2007] WASC 184; 35 WAR 59 (Simmonds J) noted at para. [152] that Brinsden J in Barristers Board v Palm Management Pty Ltd [1984] WAR 101 referred to Re Matthews (1938) 79 P 2d 535, apparently with approval, as follows at para. [108]*:

The court went on to say that where an instrument is to be shaped from a mass of facts and conditions, the legal effect of which must be carefully determined by a mind trained in the existing law in order to ensure a specific result and to guard against others, more than the knowledge of the layman is required and a charge for such services brings it definitely within the term 'practice of the law' [emphasis added].

How to limit your role to that of a "scribe or scrivener"?

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you advise your client to either:

✅ Create the draft legal document themselves + ensure independent legal advice is sought from our legal team prior to negotiation and execution; or

✅ Instruct you to create the legal documents using our Lawyer-Assisted option.

Doing this ensures your role is clearly limited to that of a "scribe or scrivener".

Our legal team will then take the responsibility for reviewing your client's individual circumstances together with the draft legal document in order to provide your client with the relevant legal advice, ensure your client understands their legal position and options, and to propose and make any required amendments to the legal document based on your client's instructions.

What is a "mere scribe or scrivener"?

In Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [supra]*:

… the court held that work of the mere clerical kind, such as filling out of skeletal blanks or drawing instruments of generally recognised and stereotype forms effectuating the conveyance or encumbrance of property, such as a simple deed or mortgage not involving the determination of the legal effect of special facts and conditions, should be generally regarded as the legitimate right of any layman because it involves nothing more or less than the clerical operations of the now almost obsolete scrivener (emphasis added).
(The scrivener was eliminated in England by the 1804 Act.).

The view of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia ... ^

Timely reminder

The 2007 case of the Legal Practice Board v. Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd* serves as a timely reminder to members that there are legislative provisions in each state and territory which prohibit a person who is not a legal practitioner from engaging in legal practice.
This prohibition is mirrored in the Institute’s regulations relating to public practice (regulation 1207).
However, there are differences between the jurisdictions as to how the prohibition is framed.  

Even so, members who use the services of document providers are urged, as a minimum, to:
✅ Use only reputable document providers whose services are backed by competent legal practitioners;
✅ Ensure that they abide by the terms and conditions of the document providers as to the use of the documents and their supply to clients; and
✅ Avoid redrafting of documents to suit the circumstances of individual clients, unless appropriate legal advice is obtained by the relevant parties.

Seek legal advice

The Institute believes that the recent WA case does not require any change to a member's legitimate use of this type of service in accordance with their terms and conditions.
However, if you have any concerns or queries about the use of document providers, you should seek legal advice.

Sources:

* Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [2007] WASC 184;

^ Extracted from the article: Court case raises issues about preparation of legal documents.

Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

How do I deal with my uncertain future in the legal profession?

Dealing with Uncertainty

Our advice, if you are apprehensive about the current state of uncertainty in the legal profession job market is to educate yourself about the future.

The future is here now, it is just very unevenly distributed.”  

The more we rely on this quote as a mantra, the more we relinquish our own agency.

It puts us all into the position of living in a future that belongs to someone else and never our own.

The best way to predict the future is to create it!
What does that mean?
The Future… Kind of scary sounding. Full of unknowns. Full of twists and turns. How can you possibly predict it?

The above quote is saying that the best way to know what is coming is to step up to be an active participant in creating the future.

⚖️ Tomorrow's Lawyers

To help you understand what the future of the work in the legal profession might look like we recommend you read Tomorrow’s Lawyers 2nd edition.

➲ The book lists out potential new career paths for lawyers that have not existed previously.

"It invites the next generation of lawyers to harness the power of technology in improving and even overhauling the way in which legal and court service is currently provided."

If you would like to seek an independent opinion please read this review of the book.

🔑 Key Takeaways

It is important to understand that lawyers can increasingly operate + practice from anywhere in the world, and across multiple legal jurisdictions.  

Example: Australian lawyer working for Australian law firm from Canada

When it comes to “behind the scenes” legal support and tech development ➲ there are no geographical limitations perhaps other than language + civil law jurisdictions (where you have been trained in a common law jurisdiction).

🥊 Alternative Dispute Resolution

Learn about the global opportunities emerging in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Example: This organisation we have not dealt with.. explain the growing opportunities in this space, presumably to help sell their ADR training.  

It is still useful to understand the opportunity.

🚀 Space Law

Think about Space Law ➲ any lawyer from any jurisdiction could theoretically practice in this interesting + expanding area of law.  

The same applies for the increased relevance of International Law in increasingly complex global commercial transactions.

🔗 Smart Contracts / Blockchain-related Law

Other areas of growth to look into Smart Contracts, Blockchain related law, etc.

A Smart Contract is a computer program or a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement.

🔒 Privacy Law / Digital Life

Some commentators have stated that Privacy can no longer be expected as surveillance is so widespread Privacy no longer exists.

Our view is that the right to + regulation of Privacy has started and will continue to become a larger part of our increasingly Digital Lives.

It is another major growth area with local companies needing to deal with global Privacy regimes such as the GDPR for their dealings with EU Citizens.

💡 Augmented Reality + AI

Augmented reality + AI are other areas to explore.

Further Reading: FAQ: What lies ahead for the future of the legal profession?

Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.