Can someone else pay your lawyer for you? And if so, would you need to disclose the source of the outside funding to the court?
This is part of an interesting and growing issue being discussed in federal courts here in California.
Litigation financing has been brought to the forefront with Hulk Hogan’s recent verdict against Gawker media.
After the verdict, it was revealed that Hogan’s case was financed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
As part of the federal court’s proposal, litigants would need to disclose whether a case is financed by someone other than the plaintiff. Proponents of the rule believe disclosure might lead to more cases being resolved.
As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, 99% of my cases are contingency fee cases. That means that the proposed rules would probably not affect my practice.
But it’s interesting to note that the California Rules of Professional Conduct impose ethical guidelines on whether attorneys can accept payment from non-clients for legal services performed for clients.
Rule 3-310(F) states that an attorney shall not accept compensation for representing a client from someone other than the client, unless
1) there’s no interference with the lawyer’s independent professional judgment and lawyer/client relationship;
2) the attorney-client confidentiality rules are followed; and
3) the attorney obtains the client’s informed written consent regarding the arrangement.
As of now, there is no rule requiring litigants to disclose sources of outside funding to the courts. We’ll continue to monitor this evolving issue.
For questions about your Los Angeles accident case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6.