Meet Our Legal Assistant: Sydney Lee

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D’Amato Law is pleased to welcome the newest addition to our team, Sydney! As a third year undergraduate at UC Berkeley with a major in Legal Studies and a minor in Education, Sydney has joined our firm as a Legal Assistant. Her primary interest in the legal field lies within immigration law, which has developed from her research experience as an apprentice of a sociology professor on the intersectionality of race and citizenship of immigrants.

Aside from her position at D’Amato Law, Sydney also works as the Advising Peer Leadership Consultant at UC Berkeley’s student organization services center, LEAD Center, providing both administrative support and leadership development advising to over 1,000 student organizations within campus. Outside of the professional setting, Sydney enjoys writing for her school's online editorial and is involved in a professional co-ed pre-law fraternity as its Professional Development Chair.

By joining our team, Sydney is thrilled about expanding her legal knowledge of business and general litigation through hands-on experiences within the office. She feels passionate about accommodating our clients’ needs in an efficient, timely manner while making sure that the team stays organized in all of its administrative tasks. With her professional demeanor and strong independent work ethics, Sydney is always willing to go beyond to connect with those who seek her assistance. 

Holder of Work Product Privilege – Lawyer or Law Firm?

On June 21, 2017, in Tucker Ellis LLP v. Superior Court (Nelson), the First District Court of Appeal held that a law firm, and not an individual lawyer, controls attorney work product.  Attorney Nelson created documents which were subject to protection under Code of Civil Procedure § 2018.030 while employed at Tucker Ellis, LLP.  After Nelson left Tucker Ellis, the firm responded to a third party subpoena, ultimately producing the documents created by Nelson without first seeking Nelson’s permission.  Nelson sued Tucker Ellis, arguing that the documents were his thoughts, impressions, and conclusions, and thus that he alone, not the law firm was the holder of the privilege.  The Court of Appeal disagreed and held that the law firm was not required to seek the attorney’s permission. 

In support of its holding, the Court reasoned that the client on behalf of whom the work was performed was a firm client, not Nelson’s directly.  Moreover, while conceding that in this instance only Nelson’s thoughts and impressions were recorded, the Court noted that often that would not be the case, and that many lawyers would collaborate on a project.  It would be unfeasible to seek permission from all former lawyers who may have rights to waive work product.  The Court also noted that its holding was particularly applicable where the client was a firm client, and thus the firm would be in the best position to determine any potential harm to the client from production.

The Court of Appeal stressed that its opinion was narrow, and limited to the facts before it.  It did, however, reject a narrower basis for the holding, that Nelson’s employment agreement, as a non-capital partner at Tucker Ellis, meant that the documents were owned by Tucker Ellis pursuant to Labor Code 2860.  Although the opinion stressed the narrow nature of the holding and forms of law firm organization vary, it is difficult to conceive of a situation in which, following the opinion, work product would be deemed owned by the lawyer, and not the law firm, even if the lawyer were a full equity partner.  Perhaps a distinguishing factor in a future case could be where the client went with the former attorney and the prior law firm merely was a custodian of files from the period in which the departed lawyer was at the prior firm. Still, the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in this case, one which is both practical and considers the interest of the client, would seem to apply.

DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar

On Thursday May 11, Adam will be a panelist at the DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar for a topic entitled Ethics and Appellate Litigation.  The CLE focuses on ethical rules and responsibilities which are unique to appellate practice, including positional conflicts of interests which arise when creating binding precedent and the duty of candor to the court, both in citing to legal precedent and making representations about the record on appeal.  

Please click here for the brochure.

Welcome to D'Amato Law!

We are very proud to announce that as of April 24 our doors are officially open in beautiful Orinda, California. We’ve hit the ground running, and we’re already putting our unique blend of experience, expertise, and agility to work for our clients. 

Take a look around our site or, even better, give us a call to learn how D’Amato Law can deliver a superior level of service and results for your legal disputes.