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Attorney Fee Agreements Not in English

In prior posts, I’ve gone over issues such as the presentation requirement when an attorney and client sign a fee agreement. On my Youtube channel, I’ve also gone over topics such as what a California contingency fee agreement has to have. In this post, I’m going to go over California’s requirements for a fee agreement when the agreement is negotiated in a language other than English. The relevant California statute is going to be section 1632 of the California Civil Code. If you read section 1632, you’ll quickly notice that it is not specific to attorney fee agreements, but discusses more broadly the question of when a written contract needs to be provided in a language that isn’t English. The relevant portion of section 1632 that applies to fee agreements between clients and attorneys is sub-section (b)(6), which provides: “Any person engaged in a trade or business who negotiates primarily in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, orally or in writing, in the course of entering into any of the following, shall deliver to the other party to the contract or agreement and prior to the execution thereof, a translation of the contract or agreement in the language in which the contract or agreement was negotiated, that includes a translation of every term and condition in that contract or agreement: (6) A contract or agreement, containing a statement of fees or charges, entered into for the purpose of obtaining legal services, when the person who is engaged in business is currently licensed to practice law pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 6000) of Division 3 of the Business...

Presentation Requirement When Signing an Attorney Engagement Agreement in California

If you didn’t know, I have a Youtube channel in addition to this blog that I, more or less, regularly post to. A while ago, I put out a video on the Youtube channel about contingency fee agreements used by attorneys in California. Here it is: Actually, to be technically correct, I put out two videos. The one I embedded above talks about contingency fee agreements in California cases generally (i.e. all cases except family law). The other video (linked here) talks about contingency fee agreements in family law cases because the question of ‘Can I use a contingency fee agreement in a family law case?’ often comes up. For background, a “fee agreement” is the contract you sign when you hire an attorney. These agreements are, of course, not specific to California. If you’re going to hire a lawyer in another US state, chances are that lawyer will want a fee agreement of some sort signed also. California, though, has numerous rules that fee agreements have to satisfy. I went over some of those rules in my videos (e.g. required contents of a fee agreement). In this post, though, I’m going to go over the rules relating to presentation. What “presentation” refers to is that a client needs to be given a copy of the fee agreement after it has been signed. Personally, I would have thought it blatantly obvious that a client needs to get a copy of their signed fee agreement, but it apparently isn’t that obvious because it’s addressed not only once, but twice in California’s statutes. The first is in section 6147(a) of the...

Lost In The Mail? Problems Serving Items by Mail in California (CA Evidence Code Section 641)

When it comes to the law and court cases, it is extremely common to have to serve documents by mail. You can serve documents in person as well, of course, but that can be inconvenient or impractical given the need to coordinate schedules, locations, etc. It’s obviously much more convenient to be able to serve legal documents by simply dropping it in the US Mail. If you subscribe to my Youtube channel, you’ll know that I have a video on how to fill in California Judicial Council form FL-335 (available here), or Proof of Service by Mail for California Family Law cases. Here’s the video: There is an equivalent proof of service by mail form in California civil court (i.e. the form POS-030, which is available here). I don’t have a video on the POS-030, but the concept is virtually identical to the FL-335. The keen-eyed among you, though, will have realized a flaw in the concept of a proof of service by mail: “Just because I drop it in the mail, doesn’t mean it gets there. What happens if it gets lost in the mail?” There are two answers to this excellent question. First, the US Mail does occasionally lose items. Moving mail in the scale that the US Postal Service does involves a ton of human labor and machines so mistakes and accidents do happen. In my experience, though, lost mail happens far less often than people claim. In the vast majority — I would say 95% of the time — of instances, legal documents that are served by mail do arrive as they are supposed to....

New York Statute of Limitations – Wrongful Death

In this post, I’m going to go over what the statute of limitations is for a wrongful death lawsuit under New York law. As a refresher, a “statute of limitations” is the time period within a lawsuit has to be commenced. If you miss this time period — even by a day — and file your lawsuit late, you could have the most perfect lawsuit (e.g. the best evidence, multiple independent witnesses, an admission by the defendant, etc) and you could still lose just because you filed your suit too late. There are certain situations in which a statute of limitations is paused (aka “tolled” in lawyer-speak if you want to google it), but those are the exception rather than the rule. Tolling is also beyond the scope of this particular post, although I may address it in a future post. The relevant NY statute on the topic of the statute of limitations in a wrongful death civil lawsuit is New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law section 5-4.1(1)), which states: “The personal representative, duly appointed in this state or any other jurisdiction, of a decedent who is survived by distributees may maintain an action to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect or default which caused the decedent’s death against a person who would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such wrongful conduct if death had not ensued. Such an action must be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death; provided, however, that an action on behalf of a decedent whose death was caused by the terrorist attacks on September eleventh, two thousand one,...

California Gang Database (CalGang) Removal (CA Penal Code sections 186.34 and 186.35)

Over the last several months, the Los Angeles Police Department has been involved in a scandal where several of its officers have been accused of adding people to California’s CalGang database without sufficient cause. The Los Angeles Times has reported on this extensively. Some officers have been criminally charged with falsifying the evidence and documentation needed to justify adding someone to CalGang. Allegedly, these officers were fabricating this evidence in order to meet quotas instituted by LAPD’s data-driven culture about how many people they needed to add to CalGang. Failure to meet those numbers would presumably have been used as evidence individual patrol officers were not doing their jobs, not being productive, etc. The LAPD has now been sued civilly for this scandal by people who allege that they suffered injuries (e.g. job loss) as a result of being improperly included in CalGang. In this post, I’m going to go over two sections of California’s Penal Code — sections 186.34 and 186.35 — pertaining to how individuals who have been added to CalGang can challenge their inclusion. These two statutes, obviously, are not specific to the city or county of Los Angeles. If you have a problem with CalGang elsewhere in California, these statutes might be helpful for you as well so read on. What is CalGang? Let’s start from the basics. CalGang is a statewide database maintained by the California Department of Justice. Like any database, it is meant to provide a single source for accurate information about a particular subject that multiple parties can draw upon. According to the CalGang website, CalGang’s purpose is to “provide law...

New York Commercial Bribery (NY Penal Law sections 180.00 and 180.03)

Background of this post: I’m a podcast junkie. I listen to them all the time (e.g. iPod, car, in the office, etc). Lately, a lot of them are from Wondery. One of their podcasts is called American Scandal and goes over scandals of various kinds (e.g. Iran Contra, Boston College athletics gambling, etc) that have occurred through the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the scandals they went over was Payola. In essence, it was the practice in the early to mid-20th centuries where radio DJs were paid money to promote or play one record company’s songs over another with the goal of making certain songs more or less popular than others. These payments were, of course, not disclosed to the public who generally thought that the songs being played were just part of the day’s normal broadcast. Part of the American Scandal podcast went over how New York played a role in ending payola because of its statutes criminalizing commercial bribery. Those statutes are the topic of this post. More accurately, I’m going to go over what the current commercial bribery statutes in New York are. Statutes change all the time. The current statutes may or may not have been what was in effect back when Payola was occurring. Under current New York law, there is both second-degree and first-degree commercial bribery under sections 180.00 and 180.03, respectively, of New York’s Penal Law. What’s the difference between the two degrees? Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is the magnitude of the benefit and damage involved. Under section 180.00, second-degree commercial bribery is defined as:   “A person...