by: Robert M. Dato
“Lawyers often complain that the world seems out to get them. And there may be some support for this sentiment. For example, in disputes pitting a (usually former) client against a lawyer, often the client gets the benefit of the doubt. See, e.g., Brand v. 20th Century Ins. Co., 124 Cal. App. 4th 594, 606-07 (2004) (finding if a lawyer could have exchanged confidences, “courts will conclusively presume they were exchanged”). But the client does not always win, as a recent California Court of Appeal opinion makes clear. There are two important lessons to be gleaned from this recent opinion, Mancini & Assocs. v. Schwetz, 39 Cal. App. 5th 656 (2019): (1) a former client can’t conspire with her former adversary to settle a matter without the attorney’s knowledge and deprive the attorney of the fees and costs to which he is contractually entitled; and (2) the former adversary cannot use the litigation privilege to protect communications concerning that settlement.”
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