Attorney Liability & Conduct

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Attorney Liability and Conduct

The attorneys in Rogers Joseph O’Donnell’s Attorney Liability and Conduct practice group represent lawyers and law firms in legal malpractice, fee dispute and State Bar disciplinary matters, and also provide advice and counseling in the areas of ethics and law practice management. Drawing upon our depth of experience in this area, we focus on providing effective, strategic representation to achieve our clients’ goals. Co-chairs Merri Baldwin and John Heller have been certified as Specialists in Legal Malpractice Law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.

Litigation. We represent clients in legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty actions, as well as matters involving malicious prosecution claims, motions to disqualify and motions for sanctions against attorneys. We have extensive experience handling attorney-client fee disputes, and regularly represent attorneys in disciplinary proceedings brought by the State Bar of California. We are seasoned trial and appellate attorneys, have tried professional liability cases to jury verdict, and also have extensive experience arbitrating matters in this area.

We also have significant experience in employing the anti-SLAPP statute on behalf of our clients, and have successfully used this procedural device to extricate attorneys and firms from lawsuits alleging malicious prosecution, fraud, and legal malpractice.

Ethics and Law Practice Management Advice. Rogers Joseph O’Donnell attorneys regularly provide advice concerning compliance with ethical and other rules, including in the areas of conflicts of interest, ethical walls, e-discovery, attorney advertising, client trust account management, and funds handling.  We also advise lawyers and law firms concerning law firm dissolutions, disputes among members of law firms and partner departures. Our emphasis is on practical solutions that ensure that our clients are in full compliance with their ethical obligations, while limiting potential exposure and controlling costs.

Expert Testimony. A number of Rogers Joseph O’Donnell attorneys serve as ethics and malpractice experts for both plaintiffs and defendants.

Representative Cases

  • Defended attorney in highly publicized case against threatened sanctions arising from alleged discovery violations
  • Defended trust and probate firm against alleged malpractice in its representation of trustee administering family trust
  • Defended lawyer in disciplinary proceedings alleging ethical violation in loan modification practice
  • Represented law firm partners against breach of fiduciary claims brought by former partner
  • Defended Silicon Valley law firm against claims of conflict of interest, malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty arising from failed start-up venture; settled prior to trial
  • Represented attorney in fee dispute with former co-counsel concerning apportionment of significant attorney fee award
  • Defended venture capital fund in fee dispute with former counsel arising from representation in business tort matter
  • Obtained dismissals of prominent New York and San Francisco law firms through anti-SLAPP motions, and obtained attorney fee award against plaintiffs
  • Handled professional liability issues arising out lost patent rights for medical devices, involving development of arguments both as to patentability and to lost profits claims
  • Represented international corporation in action against major law firm alleging conflict of interest, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty; case settled on eve of trial
  • Arbitrated significant fee dispute between Silicon Valley law firm and its former client; obtained favorable ruling including attorney fees
  • Defended a law firm in six-week jury trial from negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising out of the firm’s alleged failure to properly oversee and evaluate an underlying estate surcharge proceeding for a client insurer
  • Represented a probate attorney in disciplinary proceedings before the State Bar that involved allegations of professional negligence and mishandling of client funds
  • Represented a large New York-based law firm in professional liability litigation and obtained dismissal of all claims without payment

References available upon request.

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Attorney Liability & Conduct Publications

Merri A. Baldwin (chair)
John G. Heller (co-chair)
Thomas H. Carlson
Suhani Kamdar
Lauren B. Kramer
S. Amber Lee
Sharon Ongerth Rossi