Ethical Duties in the IP Attorney-Client Relationship

A raft of ethical issues arise from the process of interacting with prospective clients, engaging new clients, working with clients, and disengaging. In our weekly SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, March 29, 2021 we’ll discuss the interplay between the California Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys (the Rules), as well as an attorney’s fiduciary duty and the day-to-day practicalities of being an IP attorney.

Attendees should read and understand the following Rules:

Rule 1.1 Competence – Subsection (c)
Rule 1.2 Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority
Rule 1.5 Fees for Legal Services – Subsections (d) and (e)
Rule 1.5.1 Fee Divisions Among Lawyers – Subsection (a)
Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients
Rule 1.8.6 Compensation from One Other Than Client
Rule 1.8.11 Imputation of Prohibitions Under Rules 1.8.1 to 1.8.9
Rule 1.9 Duties To Former Clients
Rule 1.10 Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule
Rule 1.13 Organization as Client– Subsections (a), (b) and (f)
Rule 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation – Subsection  (e)
Rule 1.18 Duties To Prospective Client

Our discussion will walk through the following topics:


    1. Prospect intake – Rules 1.1 and 1.13
    2. Conflicts of interest – Rule 1.18
    3. Advising a prospect
    4. Retention, and not, and Rules 1.2, 1.5 and 1.8.6


    1. Client management – Rules 1.1, 1.2, 1.8.6 and 1.13
    2. Conflicts of interest – Rules 1.1 and 1.7
    3. Fiduciary duty – Rule 1.5
    4. Closing files / file retention
    5. Disengagement – Rule 1.9

Former clients – Rule 1.9

The meeting is available via video conference on March 29, 2021 beginning at 1:00 pm. Simply email elisham @ (remove the spaces which were added to to avoid spammers) to RSVP. This activity is approved for 1 hour of California MCLE credit.