Johnny Depp hit his former attorneys with a malpractice lawsuit on October 17, 2017. Depp’s complaint alleges that his attorney, Jacob Bloom, swindled him out of tens of millions of dollars.
Depp claims Mr. Bloom schemed with his former management team to collect millions more in fees than deserved.
This lawsuit is just one in a series of lawsuits. Depp’s attorney made the following statement to PEOPLE, “Johnny Depp’s lawsuit filed today reflects his continued stand against systemic, self-serving Hollywood practices that he hopes this lawsuit will expose and end.”
The Rules of Professional Conduct Govern Attorney Conduct
Most people don’t know this, but attorneys follow a code of ethics. (Don’t roll your eyes too hard. They’ll fall out of your head.)
In fact, attorneys can’t practice until they pass a professional responsibility test. The test is, literally, called The Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE, for short).
I’m taking the MPRE in a few weeks.
Attorneys must act with their client’s best interest in mind. They cannot take on new clients, contracts, cases, etc. if it will harm current clients.
Attorneys get in trouble when they violate the rules. Johnny Depp filed a malpractice lawsuit against his former attorney. He can also file a complaint with the California Bar.
If the Bar finds that Jacob Bloom violated the rules of professional conduct, it can discipline him.
Attornies must disclose conflicts of interest.
Depp is mad that his attorneys didn’t tell him about potential conflicts as they arose. This complaint is totally legitimate. And, it’s actually a pretty big deal.
Attorneys must tell their clients about conflicts. This is non-negotiable. Hiding a conflict from a client is against the rules.
Most conflicts aren’t serious. The client can waive the conflict in a lot of cases. But they have to know about it.
Serious conflicts require attorneys to withdraw from all conflicting representation.
Getting sued by a client looks bad. Getting sued by a super-famous-celebrity-client looks even worse.
Depp’s complaint is pretty complicated. I’ve read the argument a few times, and I’m still a little confused about what happened. This case will, absolutely, settle out of court.
However, most attorneys are honest and trustworthy. Don’t let Depp’s bad experience sour you on the profession as a whole.