This user agreement (“Agreement”) applies to a web-based forum for the use of California City Attorneys ("CCA") and their attorney staff. The CCA Forum (“Forum”) is moderated by League of California Cities staff and the City Attorneys’ Department officers. Upon completing the registration process and verification of eligibility, you will become an authorized user of the Forum (“Forum member” or “member”) and will be responsible for complying with the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Please read this Agreement carefully and consult it frequently.
The purpose of the Forum is to allow authorized users to post information, provide feedback and interact with others on legal issues of interest to attorneys representing California cities. The Forum provides a forum for open discussion and exchange of information and knowledge on legal issues facing municipal attorneys, including all attorneys eligible for membership as outlined below, practicing in the State of California. The Forum is intended to be a confidential forum pursuant to the common interest/joint defense doctrine, the attorney work product doctrine and, as applicable, the attorney-client privilege. As such, the Forum is where attorneys can share their impressions, conclusions, opinions, research and theories and obtain input, comments, support and constructive criticism from other qualified attorneys with like interests in the subject matter.
All Forum members should exercise sound judgment and discretion in the information they post. Participation in the Forum does not authorize members to act in conflict with the Rules of Professional Responsibility with regard to the disclosure of client confidences. (See Rule 3-100 and Bus. & Prof. Code § 6068(e)(1).)
Use of the Forum is a privilege afforded to those members who meet the following eligibility requirements:
- All California city attorneys and their attorney staff who represent a city as an assistant, deputy or similar official designation. The position of an attorney designated as an assistant, deputy or similar official designation by a contract city attorney must be verifiable, and the designated attorney’s assignment must be more than a nominal part of that attorney’s practice.
- Attorneys devoting a substantial portion of their practice to the representation of cities in general or in a specialized area of municipal law such as personnel, finance, land use, etc.
- Retired or former city attorneys who represent special districts or other public entities (e.g., joint powers authority) with approval of the City Attorneys’ Department officers.
- Retired or former city attorneys who remain actively engaged in the practice of municipal law, representing cities.
All of the above eligibility requirements are qualified by the limitation that the practice of each attorney seeking to be a member does not include regularly initiating litigation against cities or representing clients whose interests are adverse to cities, as outlined below. This limitation does not apply to city-versus-city issues.
To “regularly initiate litigation against cities” means either of the following:
- The member has filed lawsuits against more than one city within a 12-month period from the date of the first lawsuit filed, or has filed more than one lawsuit against the same city within a 12-month period from the date of the first lawsuit filed; or
- Twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the practice of the member’s firm, measured in time worked, is devoted to litigation against cities.
To “represent clients whose interests are adverse to cities” means either of the following:
- Twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the practice of the member’s firm, measured in time worked, is devoted to representing private clients in advancing legal principles that are adverse to cities’ clearly recognized and commonly held interests; or
- Representing a private client in a proceeding necessitating the advancement of legal principles adverse to cities’ clearly recognized and commonly held interests in an appellate, legislative or rule making proceeding that would establish a rule of law affecting all cities.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, an attorney who is otherwise eligible to be a Forum member, except for his or her law firm having a history of regularly initiating litigation against cities or representing clients whose interests are adverse to cities, is eligible to be a member of the Forum if:
- there is an appropriate screening wall prohibiting access to the Forum or Forum information between the attorney’s municipal practice group and the rest of the firm; and
- the attorney acknowledges and promises that by joining the Forum, he or she will not share Forum posts with other members of the firm, unless expressly authorized to do so by the Department officers or by the post’s author, and further agrees that his or her obligation to the Forum and his or her city (or other public entity) client(s) supersedes any alleged competing obligations to partners, other firm clients or any other person.
County Counsel and attorneys in their offices are not eligible to be Forum members except for attorneys who work for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.
The above eligibility criteria are intended to provide guidance for users and potential members of the Forum and are not intended to be the exclusive means of determining initial or continued eligibility. All proposed members must apply to become members of the Forum and by applying are self-certifying their eligibility under the criteria set forth above. Further, each member by maintaining his/her membership is certifying to his/her continuing eligibility.
The City Attorneys’ Department officers retain the discretion to refuse or revoke eligibility or to continue eligibility based on their determination whether the individual attorney or his or her firm is complying with the intent of the User Agreement and with the goal of ensuring the ongoing confidentiality of communications within the Forum. Any dispute regarding eligibility as a member will be resolved by the City Attorneys’ Department officers. The determination of the Department officers is final and not subject to appeal.
The exchange of information on the Forum is intended to be confidential and Forum postings are considered to be privileged and protected attorney work product, whether related to litigation or non-litigation matters. Forum members are “collaborating parties” for purposes of the attorney work product doctrine. All Forum members, as attorneys advising cities and other public entities, have a common interest in securing legal advice related to the same subject matter. And as such, they have a reasonable expectation that all information disclosed on the Forum will remain confidential, and they agree that disclosures on the Forum are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose for which the Forum member either sought advice from colleagues or was consulted. Furthermore, the limited disclosure of attorney work product via the Forum is consistent with the members’ collective intent to safeguard the privacy of their work product because this limited disclosure is reasonably necessary to advise and represent their clients competently and zealously.
Each attorney, by applying to be a Forum member and, once approved, by being a member, expressly acknowledges and promises and agrees to the following:
- To maintain the confidentiality of the information posted on and obtained through the Forum. If a Forum member is a member of a law firm, the member further promises and agrees to maintain the confidentiality of the information as against the member’s law firm and the firm’s partners/shareholders and associates.
- Not to forward or share Forum posts or information with others unless expressly authorized to do so by the Department officers or the post’s author. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a member may update his/her city (or other public entity) clients, who the member represents on the Forum, on new laws, best practices, new cases and other pertinent information the member learned from the Forum without attributing the same to the Forum or a particular member.
- Forum members have a strong and mutual interest in maintaining the confidentiality of their work product and their communications on the Forum.
- All members are “collaborating parties” as to Forum posts for purposes of the attorney work product doctrine.
- The limited disclosure of attorney work product via the Forum is consistent with the members’ collective intent to safeguard the privacy of their work product because the limited disclosure is reasonably necessary to advise and represent their clients competently and zealously.
- The common interest/joint defense doctrine applies to each member’s participation on the Forum. As such, all members have a common interest in securing legal advice related to the same subject matter, all members have a reasonable expectation that all information disclosed on the Forum will remain confidential, and disclosures on the Forum are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose for which the Forum member was seeking advice or was consulted.
If a Forum member is a member of a law firm that has a history of regularly initiating litigation against cities or representing clients whose interests are adverse to cities (see above guidelines), such Forum member further acknowledges and promises and agrees to the following:
- To establish an appropriate screening wall prohibiting access to the Forum or Forum information between the member’s municipal practice and the members or practice groups of the firm that represent interests adverse to cities; and
- Not to share Forum posts with other members of his/her firm unless expressly authorized to do so by the Department officers or the post’s author, which obligation to the Forum and the city or cities or other public entities the member represents supersedes any alleged competing obligations to the member’s partners/shareholders and associates, other firm clients or any other person.
Current Forum Membership:
The names of Forum members will be posted on the California City Attorneys Forum and will be updated on a continuing basis.
Representation Adverse to Another City:
All members agree as follows:
- In the event that a Forum member commences representation of a party seeking a permit or some other administrative or legislative approval from another city, the member must, to the extent consistent with the member’s ethical duty to his or her client, immediately notify the city attorney of that representation.
- In the event that a Forum member is or becomes engaged in a dispute or lawsuit representing a party (private or other public entity, including another city) adverse to a city’s interest, the member must, to the extent consistent with the member’s ethical duty to his/her client, immediately notify the city attorney of the adverse representation. In addition, the member must agree in writing: (1) not to discuss the subject matter of the adverse representation on the Forum during the pendency of the dispute or lawsuit; and (2) not to read emails (posts) regarding the subject matter of the adverse representation. If there is an inadvertent disclosure of confidential information about the matter, the member shall not read the post and shall not use it for any purpose. A copy of this signed written agreement shall be provided to the City Attorneys’ Department officers. The Department officers shall have complete authority and discretion to resolve any dispute between opposing members regarding Forum access during the pendency of the relevant dispute or lawsuit. Whatever agreement or decision is reached, the members agree that the confidentiality of all posts and the applicability of the attorney work product and the common interest/joint defense doctrines remain in full force and effect as set forth in this User Agreement.
All Forum members make a commitment not just to obtain information but also to contribute to the discussion on the Forum.
Each member, by seeking membership and participating in the Forum, acknowledges that the moderator and the League of California Cities do not control the information available on the Forum and that opinions, statements, services or other information or content presented or disseminated on the Forum are those of the respective authors, who are solely responsible for their content. All Forum members are responsible for their own communications and are responsible for any consequence of posting their communications.
The Forum moderator may edit all posts for space, and any post may be deleted if deemed inappropriate. The Forum moderator will delete posts where the subject line is empty. Forum members should take care to ensure that only posts intended for distribution to the Forum are transmitted to the Forum.
Because posts are transmitted electronically, it is impossible to guarantee the confidentiality of posts, and members should be cognizant of that fact in posting to the Forum.
The following are best practices that all members are encouraged to observe.
- Subject line for Forum posts should start with a descriptive action or alert followed by topic. Examples –
Question – Statutory interpretation – density bonus law
Ordinance - model requested - massage therapy regulations
New case alert – San Juan Capistrano – tiered water rates
Job posting – San Jose – Deputy City Attorney
Announcement – League Webinar – Workplace Investigations
Survey – City Attorney compensation
- To the extent reasonable, members are requested to reply to an existing post or employ the same subject line consistently instead of starting new discussions on an existing topic.
- Please consider Forum volume – is a response most useful to the individual or to the group?
- Every post should include a signature block that includes the name, title if applicable, the city (or other entity) representing and contact information, including phone number and reply email. The Forum moderator may reject posts not containing such identifying information.
- New members should post an introduction, as follows:
- Subject line: Introduction – new member – name
- Content: Short background statement (in-house or with a firm; other introductory information) and contact information.
Termination of Membership
Any member’s participation in this Forum may be terminated at any time at the sole discretion of the City Attorneys’ Department officers or upon recommendation of the Forum moderator to the Department officers, without right of appeal. Causes for termination include engaging in sharing information received on the Forum in contravention of this Agreement or to the detriment of another public agency, disseminating irrelevant postings (including spam advertising) and no longer meeting the eligibility requirements for membership. It is each member’s responsibility to notify the Forum moderator if his or her eligibility changes such that he or she is no longer entitled to membership.
Distribution of any Forum posting, in whole or in part, to persons not Forum members, unless expressly authorized to do so by the Department officers or the post’s author, is strictly prohibited and is a basis for termination of Forum membership.