Answers to Winter 2017
California Bar Exam Questions

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Winter 2017 Bar Question 5

Professional Responsibility


Claire met with Len, a personal injury lawyer, in his office and told him that she had burned her legs when she slipped on some caustic cleaning solution spilled on a sidewalk outside Hotel. Len agreed to take her case and they properly executed a retainer agreement. Claire showed Len scars on her legs that she said were caused by the cleaning solution. She also showed him clothes that she said were stained by the cleaning solution. Len took the clothes from her and put them in his office closet for safe keeping.

Len filed a lawsuit in state court against Hotel. Hotel’s lawyer, Hannah, called Len. She told him that this lawsuit was the fourteenth lawsuit that Claire had filed against Hotel, and that she intended to move the court to declare Claire a vexatious litigant. Len and Hannah had been engaged two years ago before they amicably decided to go their separate ways.

Len called Claire and left a message asking her to call him “about an important update in the case.” He also sent her an email with a “read receipt” tag, with the same request. He received a notice that she had read the email, but did not receive any response. Over the next week, he sent her a copy of the same email once each day with the same “read receipt” tag; each day, he received a notice that she had read the email, but did not receive any response. He then sent her a registered letter asking her to contact him, but again, did not receive any response. A week later, he sent her another registered letter stating that he no longer represented her and that he would return her clothing to her.

Claire soon called Len, begging him not to “fire” her, saying she had not responded to him because “I didn’t think calling you back was such a big deal.” He then asked her about “the thirteen prior lawsuits against Hotel.” She replied: “What ‘thirteen prior lawsuits’? Besides, Hotel’s got more money than I do.” He told her that he was sorry, but that he was no longer her lawyer.

The next day, Len went to his office closet to retrieve Claire’s clothes to send them back to her. To his dismay, he realized that he had sent her clothes along with his to be dry-cleaned. He rushed to the dry-cleaner and learned that all of the clothes he had sent had been dry-cleaned and that all of their stains had been removed.

What ethical violations, if any, has Len committed? Discuss. Answer according to California and ABA authorities.

All questions © 2017 California State Bar Exam. All rights reserved


Professional Responsibility
Question 5, Winter 2017


Analysis and Answers © 2017 Vivian Dempsey, The Writing Edge™ All rights reserved.
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