Cases & Deals

Amici law firms obtain reversal of decision disqualifying entire firm where ethical wall isolated personally-conflicted attorney

Clients First American Title LA

Jones Day drafted an amicus brief on behalf of twenty-four national law firms in support of First American Title LA seeking reversal of the trial court decision that there was an irrebuttable presumption under California law that a Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal attorney shared alleged confidential information he obtained from his former employer with his current colleagues. The brief noted that disqualifying a firm can work a major hardship on a client, particularly if the law firm has already invested significant time and resources in preparing a case for trial. The brief argued that, in appropriate circumstances, firms should be able to rely on the use of an "ethical wall" to isolate a personally-conflicted attorney, thereby overcoming the presumption that the attorney shared information, and preventing the need for firmwide disqualification.

The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District reversed the trial court's decision that had disqualified Sonnenschein.

Kirk et al. v. First American Title Insurance Co. et al., Case No. B218956 (Cal. App. 2d Dist.)