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Ethics: Is it unlawful for an Attorney to be the beneficiary of the litigation which his Client will acquire in a Prop Dispute?

Pismo Beach, CA |

For example, registered Domestic Partner represent his girlfriend. If she wins, she acquires full ownership of property. But so potential does the Attorney… as either husband or domestic Partner. (Communitiy Property.) Or the Attorney is a business Partner in the trust that acquires the property. Isn't that prohibited? And isn't the Attorney also a witness?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    This can become a serious ethical problem when any attorney enters into a business arrangement with a client. Some types of cases lend themselves to a contingency fee arrangement which is very common, such as personal injury and debt collections. I would not consider such a case for ethical reasons. I would strongly recommend the attorney review the proposal with the State Bar Ethics Hotline.


  2. I am not clear whether this is a hypothetical "law school" question, or whether you are a party where this is actually happening.
    If the later, the potential conflict is between the attorney and his client, and it the attorney has proper waivers, it is probably acceptable conduct. If you are the opposing party - any potential conflict has nothing to do with you.
    whether the attorney is a potential witness depends on the particular facts of the case. In any event, that too is a waivable conflict between the attorney and his clientl.

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  3. It's one thing if the attorney is a domestic partner of his client, quite another if he is engaged in a pure business arrangement with a client. The latter is ethically suspect.

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