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Attorney Disqualification Sanctity Of The Fee Agreement

M’Guinness v. Johnson (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 602
This is a good lesson in the sanctity of the attorney-client fee agreement and how it can affect attorney disqualification. Law firm commenced representing TLC Builders, Inc. in 2006. The fee agreement provided for an open-ended relationship, terminable with the client’s consent or for good cause. Law firm later opted to represent one shareholder (Johnson) against the others, and all of the shareholders, including Johnson, separately sued TLC.
HELD: Law firm still had an attorney-client relationship with TLC when it commenced representing Johnson against TLC. Representing parties on both sides of a controversy generally compels automatic disqualification.