The trial court erred in disqualifying defendant’s counsel on the ground that he had formed a confidential non-client relationship with and had acquired confidential information from the plaintiff. The evidence showed that plaintiff, who had acted as a real estate broker in the sale of a property owned by the lawyer’s client, had disclosed to the lawyer only information that the broker had also disclosed to others (thus making it non-confidential) or information that the broker had to disclose to the seller and its lawyer to act as broker and effectuate the contemplated sale. The plaintiff also argued that the lawyer should be disqualified because he represented what the broker claimed was a partnership between the broker and the defendant, but the Court of Appeal refused to affirm on that ground because the trial court declined to make a finding as to whether such a partnership had been formed—and even if there was a partnership, the lawyer would be disqualified only if he had agreed to represent not only the partnership but also its individual partners.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3 (Fybel, J.); September 21, 2017; 2017 WL 4173330