(a) In addition to any criminal penalties pursuant to Section 6126 or to any contempt proceedings pursuant to Section 6127, the courts of the state shall have the jurisdiction provided in this section when a person advertises or holds himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law, or otherwise practices law, without being an active member of the State Bar or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this state at the time of doing so.
(b) The State Bar, or the superior court on its own motion, may make application to the superior court for the county where the person described in subdivision (a) 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 practice to the extent provided in this section. In any proceeding under this section, the State Bar shall be permitted to intervene and to assume primary responsibility for conducting the action.
(c) An application made pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be verified, and shall state facts showing all of the following:
(1) Probable cause to believe that the facts set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 6126 have occurred.
(2) The interest of the applicant.
(3) Probable cause to believe that the interests of a client or of an interested person or entity will be prejudiced if the proceeding is not maintained.
(d) The application shall be set for hearing, and an order to show cause shall be issued directing the person to show cause why the court should not assume jurisdiction over the practice as provided in this section. A copy of the application and order to show cause shall be served upon the person by personal delivery or, as an alternate method of service, by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the person either at the address at which he or she maintains, or more recently has maintained, his or her principal office or at the address where he or she resides. 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 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 person who is the subject of the application. 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 herein.
(e) If the court finds that the facts set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 6126 have occurred and that the interests of a client or an interested person or entity will be prejudiced if the proceeding provided herein is not maintained, the court may make an order assuming jurisdiction over the person’s practice pursuant to this section. 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 upon 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 practice, pursuant to subdivision (g), and may order those appointed attorneys to do one or more of the following:
(1) Examine the files and records of the practice and obtain information as to any pending matters that may require attention.
(2) Notify persons and entities who appear to be clients of the person of the occurrence of the event or events stated in subdivision (a) of Section 6126, and inform them that it may be in their best interest to obtain other legal counsel.
(3) Apply for an extension of time pending employment of legal counsel by the client.
(4) 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.
(5) Give notice to the depositor and appropriate persons and entities who may be affected, other than clients, of the occurrence of the event or events.
(6) Arrange for the surrender or delivery of clients’ papers or property.
(7) Arrange for the appointment of a receiver, where applicable, to take possession and control of any and all bank accounts relating to the affected person’s practice.
(8) Do any other acts that the court may direct to carry out the purposes of this section.
The court shall have jurisdiction over the files and records and over the practice of the affected person 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 section to the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar.
(f) Anyone examining the files and records of the practice of the person described in subdivision (a) shall observe any lawyer-client privilege under Sections 950 and 952 of the Evidence Code and shall make disclosure only to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of this section. That disclosure shall be a disclosure that is reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose for which the person described in subdivision (a) was consulted. The appointment of a member of the State Bar pursuant to this section shall not affect the lawyer-client privilege, which privilege shall apply to communications by or to the appointed members to the same extent as it would have applied to communications by or to the person described in subdivision (a).
(g) The notice of cessation of law practice shall contain any information that may be required by the court, including, but not limited to, the finding by the court that the facts set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 6126 have occurred and that the court has assumed jurisdiction of the practice. The notice shall be mailed to all clients, to opposing counsel, to courts and agencies in which the person has pending matters with an identification of the matter, 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 court’s assumption of the practice.
(h) Nothing in this section shall authorize the court or an attorney appointed by it pursuant to this section to approve or disapprove of the employment of legal counsel, to fix terms of legal employment, or to supervise or in any way undertake the conduct of the practice, except to the limited extent provided by paragraphs (3) and (4) of subdivision (e).
(i) Unless court approval is first obtained, neither the attorney appointed pursuant to this section, nor his or her corporation, nor any partner or associate of the attorney shall accept employment as an attorney by any client of the affected person on any matter pending at the time of the appointment. Action taken pursuant to paragraphs (3) and (4) of subdivision (e) shall not be deemed employment for purposes of this subdivision.
(j) 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 subdivision (e) will result in substantial injury to clients or to others, the court, without notice or upon notice as it shall prescribe, may make interim orders containing any provisions that the court deems appropriate under the circumstances. Such an interim order shall be served in the manner provided in subdivision (d) and, if the application and order to show cause have not yet been served, the application and order to show cause shall be served at the time of serving the interim order.
(k) No person or entity shall incur any liability by reason of the institution or maintenance of a proceeding brought under this section. No person or entity shall incur any liability for an act done or omitted to be done pursuant to order of the court under this section. No person or entity shall be liable for failure to apply for court jurisdiction under this section. Nothing in this section shall affect any obligation otherwise existing between the affected person and any other person or entity.
(l) An order pursuant to this section is not appealable and shall not be stayed by petition for a writ, except as ordered by the superior court or by the appellate court.
(m) A member of the State Bar appointed pursuant to this section 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 that 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 person described in subdivision (a) or his or her estate.
(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 538, Sec. 10. Effective January 1, 2007.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018