When an attorney engaged in law practice in this state dies, resigns, becomes an inactive member of the State Bar, is disbarred, or is suspended from the active practice of law and is required by the order of suspension to give notice of the suspension, notice of cessation of law practice shall be given and the courts of this state shall have jurisdiction, as provided in this article.
(Amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 453, Sec. 16.)
The notice shall contain any information that may be required by any order of disbarment, suspension, or of acceptance of the attorneys’ resignation, by any rule of the Supreme Court, Judicial Council, or the State Bar, and by any order of a court of the state having jurisdiction pursuant to this article or Article 12 (commencing with Section 6190) of this chapter. It shall be mailed to all persons who are then clients, to opposing counsel, to courts and agencies in which the attorney then had pending matters with an identification of the matter, to any errors and omissions insurer, to the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar and to any other person or entity having reason to be informed of the death, change of status or discontinuance or interruption of law practice. In the event of the death or incompetency of the attorney, the notice shall be given by the personal representative or guardian or conservator of the attorney or, if none, by the person having custody or control of the files and records of the attorney. In other cases, the notice shall be given by the attorney or a person authorized by the attorney or by the person having custody and control of the files and records.
(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 156, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1993.)
Notwithstanding the giving of notice pursuant to Section 6180.1, the superior court on its own motion, or a client of the attorney, the State Bar, or an interested person or entity may make application to the superior court for the county where the attorney maintains or more recently has maintained his or her principal office for the practice of law or where he or she resides, for assumption by the court of jurisdiction over the law practice to the extent provided in this article. In any proceeding under this article, the State Bar shall be permitted to intervene and to assume primary responsibility for conducting the action.
(Amended by Stats. 1989, Ch. 582, Sec. 2. Effective September 21, 1989.)
The application shall be verified, and shall state facts supporting the occurrence of one or more of the events stated in Section 6180 and either of the following:
(a) Belief that supervision of the court is warranted because the attorney has left an unfinished client matter for which no other active member of the State Bar has, with the consent of the client, agreed to assume responsibility.
(b) Belief that the interests of one or more clients of the attorney or of one or more other interested persons or entities will be prejudiced if the proceeding herein provided is not maintained.
(Amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 453, Sec. 18.)
The application shall be set for hearing and an order to show cause shall be issued, directing the attorney, or his or her personal representative, or, if none, the person having custody and control of the files and records, to show cause why the court should not assume jurisdiction over the law practice as provided in this article. A copy of the application and order to show cause shall be served upon the person to whom it is directed by personal delivery or, as an alternate method of service, by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the attorney at the latest address shown on the official membership records of the State Bar or to the personal representative at the latest address shown in the probate proceeding. Service is complete at the time of mailing, but any prescribed period of notice and any right or duty to do any act or make any response within that prescribed period or on a date certain after notice is served by mail shall be extended five days if the place of address is within the State of California, 10 days if the place of address is outside the State of California but within the United States, and 20 days if the place of address is outside the United States. If the attorney has a guardian or conservator, copies shall also be served upon such fiduciary in similar manner. If the State Bar is not the applicant, copies shall also be served upon the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar in similar manner at the time of service on the attorney. The court may prescribe additional or alternative methods of service of the application and order to show cause, and may prescribe methods of notifying and serving notices and process upon other persons and entities in cases not specifically provided for herein.
(Amended by Stats. 1989, Ch. 582, Sec. 3. Effective September 21, 1989.)
If the court finds that one or more of the events stated in Section 6180 has occurred, and that supervision of the courts is warranted because the affected attorney has left an unfinished client matter for which no other active member of the State Bar has with consent of the client agreed to assume responsibility , or that the interest of one or more of the clients of the attorney or one or more other interested persons or entities will be prejudiced if the proceeding herein provided is not maintained, it may make an order assuming jurisdiction over the attorney’s practice pursuant to this article. If the person to whom the order to show cause is directed does not appear the court may make its order upon the verified application or such proof as it may require. Thereupon the court shall appoint one or more active members of the State Bar to act under its direction to mail a notice of cessation of law practice pursuant to Section 6180.1 and may order such appointed attorneys to do one or more of the following:
(a) Examine the files and records of the law practice, and obtain information as to any pending matters which may require attention.
(b) Notify persons and entities who appear to be clients of the attorney of the occurrence of the event or events stated in Section 6180 and inform them that it may be to their best interest to obtain other legal counsel.
(c) Apply for an extension of time pending employment of such other counsel by the client.
(d) With the consent of the client, file notices, motions and pleadings on behalf of the client where jurisdictional time limits are involved and other legal counsel has not yet been obtained.
(e) Give notice to the depositor and appropriate persons and entities who may be affected, other than clients, of the occurrence of such event or events.
(f) Arrange for the surrender or delivery of clients’ papers or property.
(g) Arrange for the appointment of a receiver, where applicable, to take possession and control of any and all bank accounts relating to the affected attorney’s practice of law, including the general or office account and the clients’ trust account.
(h) Do such other acts as the court may direct to carry out the purposes of this article.
The court shall have jurisdiction over the files and records and law practice of the affected attorney for the limited purposes of this section, and may make all orders necessary or appropriate to exercise this jurisdiction. The court shall provide a copy of any order issued pursuant to this article to the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar.
(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 156, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1993.)
Nothing in this article shall authorize the court or an attorney appointed by it pursuant to this article to approve or disapprove of the employment of legal counsel, fix terms of legal employment, fix the compensation which may have been earned by the affected attorney, or supervise or in any way to undertake to conduct the law practice except to the limited extent provided by subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 6180.5.
(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 156, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 1993.)
Unless court approval is first obtained, neither the attorney appointed pursuant to this article nor his corporation nor any partners or associates of the attorney shall accept employment as an attorney by any client of the affected attorney on any matter pending at the time of the appointment. Action taken pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 6180.5 shall not be deemed such employment.
(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 156, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 1993.)
Upon a finding by the court that it is more likely than not that the application will be granted and that delay in making the orders described in Section 6180.5 will result in substantial injury to clients, or to others, the court, without notice or upon such notice as it shall prescribe, may make interim orders containing such provisions as the court deems appropriate under the circumstances. Such order shall be served in the manner provided in Section 6180.4, and if the application and order to show cause have not yet been served, they shall be served at the time of serving the order made pursuant to this section.
(Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 589.)
If there is a pending proceeding in probate, guardianship, or conservatorship relating to the affected attorney, the court having jurisdiction pursuant to this article may inquire into acts done by the legal representative of the attorney concerning the law practice. Upon reasonable notice to the legal representative, the court may determine that the acts of the legal representative relating to such law practice shall be subject to its orders pursuant to this article.
(Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 589.)
Persons examining the files and records of the law practice of the affected attorney pursuant to this article shall observe the lawyer-client privilege and shall make disclosure only to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of this article. Such disclosure is a disclosure which is reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose for which the affected attorney was consulted. The appointment of such member of the State Bar shall not affect the lawyer-client privilege which privilege shall apply to communications by or to the appointed lawyers to the same extent as it would have applied to communications by or to the affected attorney.
(Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 589.)
No person or entity shall incur any liability by reason of the institution or maintenance of the proceeding. No person shall incur any liability for any act done or omitted to be done pursuant to order of the court under this article. No person or entity shall be liable for failure to apply for court jurisdiction under this article. Nothing in this section shall affect any obligation otherwise existing between the affected attorney and any other person or entity.
(Amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 453, Sec. 20.)
A member of the State Bar appointed pursuant to Section 6180.5 shall serve without compensation. However, the member may be paid reasonable compensation by the State Bar in cases where the State Bar has determined that the member has devoted extraordinary time and services which were necessary to the performance of the member’s duties under this article. All payments of compensation for time and services shall be at the discretion of the State Bar. Any member shall be entitled to reimbursement from the State Bar for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of the member’s duties under this article. Upon court approval of expenses or compensation for time and services, the State Bar shall be entitled to reimbursement therefor from the affected attorney or his or her estate.
(Amended by Stats. 1983, Ch. 254, Sec. 2.)
An order made pursuant to this article is nonappealable, and shall not be stayed by petition for a writ except as ordered by the superior court or the appellate court.
(Added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 589.)
As used in this article, “attorney” means a member or former member of the State Bar; “law practice” means (a) a law practice conducted by an individual; (b) a law practice conducted by a partnership, if Section 6180 applies to all partners; and (c) a law practice conducted by a law corporation, if Section 6180 applies to all shareholders of the corporation or if the corporation is described in subdivision (b) of Section 13406 of the Corporations Code. This article does not apply to legal services rendered as an employee, or under a contract which does not create the relationship of lawyer and client.
(Amended by Stats. 1993, Ch. 955, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 1994.)
(a) Upon appointment by the superior court pursuant to Section 2468, 9764, or paragraph (22) or (23) of subdivision (b) of Section 17200 of the Probate Code, a practice administrator, who is an active member of the State Bar, may be granted, by order of the court appointing this person, one or more of the following powers to take control of the practice of a deceased or disabled member of the State Bar of California:
(1) Take control of all operating and client trust accounts, business assets, equipment, client directories, and premises that were used in the conduct of the deceased or disabled member’s practice.
(2) Take control and review all client files of the deceased or disabled member.
(3) Contact each client of the deceased or disabled member who can be reasonably ascertained and located to inform the client of the condition of the member and of the appointment of a practice administrator. The practice administrator may discuss various options for the selection of successor counsel with the client.
(4) In each case that is pending before any court or administrative body, notify the appropriate court or administrative body and contact opposing counsel in the cases under the control of the deceased or disabled member and obtain additional time for new counsel to appear for the affected client.
(5) Determine the liabilities of the practice and pay them for the assets of the practice. If the assets of the practice are insufficient to pay these obligations or for the expenses incurred by the practice administrator to carry out the powers ordered pursuant to this section, the practice administrator shall apply to the personal representative to obtain the additional funds that may be required. If the personal representative and the practice administrator are unable to agree on the amount that is necessary for the practice administrator to undertake the duties ordered pursuant to this paragraph, either party may apply to the court having jurisdiction over the estate of the deceased or disabled member for an order requesting funds from the estate.
(6) Employ any person, including but not limited to the employees of the deceased or disabled member, who may be necessary to assist the practice administrator in the management, winding up, and disposal of the practice.
(7) Create a plan for disposition of the practice of the deceased or disabled member to protect its value as an asset of the estate of the member. Subject to the approval of the personal representative of the estate, agree to the sale of the practice and its goodwill.
(8) Subject to the approval of the personal representative of the estate, reach agreements with successor counsel for division of fees for work in process on the cases of the deceased or disabled member.
(9) Subject to the prohibitions against soliciting cases, the practice administrator may act as successor counsel for a client of the deceased or disabled member.
(b) If the practice administrator is uncertain as to how to proceed with the powers granted pursuant to this section, he or she may apply to the Superior Court that has jurisdiction over the estate of the deceased or disabled member for instructions.
(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 682, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1999.)