Whether you are a DUI defendant, a CDL holder issued a traffic ticket, or are seeking an attorney to assist you in any area of the law, you should be aware of the California State Bar rules prohibiting guarantees by an attorney.by Attorney Felicia Woods-Yates on 03/15/15
Whether you are a DUI defendant who was recently arrested, a CDL holder who was recently issued a traffic ticket, or are seeking the representation of an attorney to assist you in any area of the law, you should be aware of the California State Bar rules and regulations that prohibit an attorney from guaranteeing or predicting the outcome of any legal representation.
Our office has heard it before from prospective clients…”the attorney’s office I spoke to earlier said that they would guarantee the results of my case.” My response is always the same to the client…if any attorney or law firm guarantees you the outcome of a legal matter, turn around, and run the other way as fast as you can.
Not only is it not plausible for an attorney to guarantee a case outcome (due to the many nuances of our criminal and civil justice systems), but it is an Ethical Violation of California State Bar Rule No. 1-400 (Advertising and Solicitation standards). State Bar Rule No. 1-400 states in part as follows: “For purposes of this rule, “communication” means any message or offer made by or on behalf of a member [attorney] concerning the availability for professional employment of a member [attorney] or a law firm directed to any former, present, or prospective client (emphasis added)…”
The Rule further goes on to say that “…the following standards, effective May 27, 1989,…are presumed to be in violation of rule 1-400: (1) A “communication” which contains guarantees, warranties, or predictions regarding the result of the representation (emphasis added). (2) A “communication” which contains testimonials about or endorsements of a member unless such communication also contains an express disclaimer such as 'this testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter'."
As a practicing attorney for over 30 years in California, I have no problem discussing my past case results with clients, and emphasizing my “track record” of successes in both the criminal and civil arena. However, my office will never even imply that we can predict or guarantee the outcome of a pending legal matter. Today’s legal market has become a very competitive environment, with attorneys working harder than ever to solicit and acquire new clientele. Despite the state of our legal economy, there is never a valid reason for any attorney in California to violate a State Bar Rule of Professional Conduct. As a legal consumer, you should focus on an attorney’s experience, past record of case results, and his/her public record with the State Bar. You may review a California attorney’s public record of discipline by going to the State Bar of California’s website (www.calbar.ca.gov), and searching for an attorney’s profile by entering their name OR their State Bar number in the “attorney search” field.