The Ethical Limits of Zealous Advocacy
March 26, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
2 Hours MCLE; 2 Legal Ethics. Presented by the California Lawyers Association Ethics Committee.
Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States held that “an attorney’s ethical duty to advance the interests of his client is limited by an equally solemn duty to comply with the law and standards of professional conduct.” Although the California Rules of Professional Conduct do not use the phrase “zealous advocacy” every lawyer admitted to practice in California takes an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and faithfully to discharge the duties of any attorney at law to the best of his knowledge and ability.” Newly admitted attorneys are also required to take a “civility” oath. In addition to duties owed to their clients, as officers of the court, attorneys have equally important duties to the judicial system as a whole.
This presentation defines and discusses the ethical contours of “zealous advocacy,” at all phases of representation, beginning at the time of retainer, through pre-filing handling of the matter, and litigation in court (i.e., filing, pretrial, discovery and trial.) In addition, there will be a discussion of the special duties of criminal prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and appellate attorneys.
Finally, the State Bar’s Attorney Guidelines of Civility and Professionalism, California Rules of Court, rule 9.7 as well as local bar association civility guidelines will be discussed and analyzed to answer whether civility guidelines are a limit on zealous advocacy on behalf of clients or rather are a more effective method of advocacy that better balances the attorney’s dual role as client advocate and officer of the court.
Speaker: Ashod Mooradian
After nearly a decade as a senior prosecutor with the State Bar of California, Ashod Mooradian founded a boutique practice exclusively focused on legal ethics, professional responsibility compliance, and State Bar matter representation in disciplinary, regulatory or admission- related cases. Ashod’s background as an ethics prosecutor gives him a unique and pragmatic perspective in the analysis of legal ethics issues and when representing clients in State Bar investigations. Currently, Ashod is a member of the standing ethics committees for the Los Angeles County Bar and the California Lawyers Association.
Also, he is an active member of the Association of Disciplinary Defense Counsel, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR). In 2019, Ashod was awarded CPR’s Jeanne P. Gray Diversity Scholarship and worked on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for the legal profession nationwide. In August 2020, Ashod launched www.StateBarHelp.com to provide guidance and resources for California attorneys who have any type legal ethics or compliance issue pending before the State Bar of California. Ashod’s mission is to help attorneys practically and strategically incorporate considerations of ethics and professionalism into their daily practice and not just when a problem or crisis arises.