Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cassady v. Morgan Lewis Bockius (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 29, 2006)

Sorry for the late post today, but I was in a deposition in Los Angeles all day, and then had to drive back to San Diego (in rush hour LA/OC/SD traffic, mind you) in order to get back to USD in time to participate in the "Battle of the Brains" competition and thereby demonstrate that the faculty's intellectual prowess vis-a-vis our students is greatly, greatly exaggerated. Which we did. In spades. (Though, to toot our own horn, we prevailed in the end. Thanks largely, I think, to the "Supreme Court" category of questions, which -- not surprisingly -- we were pretty good at, thank you very much. E.g., Ruth Bader's the second oldest on the Court, not Nino.)

I did get a chance to read today's cases, however. Lots of stuff that could only marginally keep my interest, though, as usual, I slogged through it nonetheless. This case was fairly interesting, however, both from a lawyer-watching perspective as well as from the perspective of learning something that might actually help the most important people in the world; namely, us. Justice Aldrich's opinion is all about (1) The lawsuit by Los Angeles attorney Ralph Cassady against his former employer, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and (2) the legal standards by which attorneys are entitled to indemnification (including defense costs) from their former law firms for malpractice lawsuits against them (pursuant to Labor Code sect. 2802).

In other words, if you're an associate (or even otherwise employed by a law firm), and you are sued for malpractice based upon something you did at the firm -- whether meritoriously or not -- does your law firm have to defend you, or can they hang you out to dry? As, indeed, Morgan Lewis did to Mr. Cassady here.

I'll leave you in suspense. Read the opinion. It's got a lot of good stuff. Or at least read it if and when you ever get sued. Or, perhaps, if and when you're thinking "I'm tired. I don't feel like doing my job very well today, and want to go home. If I screw up, and get sued, can I at least make my law firm defend and indemnify me?"

(The answer, by the way, is: Maybe. Shocking, I know. Read the opinion for more!)