With over 25 years of practice as a trusted adviser and litigator in the area of professional responsibility, Mr. Dilworth has developed unique skills and insights assisting a wide array of attorneys and law firms navigating the evolving intricacies of the law governing lawyers. Mr. Dilworth’s depth of knowledge and practical and thoughtful approach to resolving complex ethical issues is highly valued by his clients.
Mr. Dilworth’s practice focuses exclusively on the law of lawyering. He counsels lawyers and law firms in California and nationally on legal ethics compliance, risk management and liability prevention, and lawyer departure and mobility issues. He has served as outside ethics counsel to a broad array of clients ranging from AMLAW 200 law firms to mid-sized firms and solo practitioners. In addition to representation of outside clients, he also has significant practical experience having contemporaneously served as internal counsel to a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco for more than a decade.
These experiences provide Mr. Dilworth with a nuanced perspective on law firm structures, how ethical issues arise in day-to-day practice, and the practical manner in which lawyers and law firms can and do effectively resolve such issues. This perspective is informed by years of broad-ranging exposure and involvement with lawyer-related litigation, including legal malpractice and malicious prosecution actions, sanctions proceedings, lawyer-client fee disputes, law firm dissolutions, anti-SLAPP motions, and other law-related matters. All of which provides a real-world backdrop to his understanding of how ethical issues get litigated and resolved by courts, arbitrators, lawyers, law firms, and disciplinary bodies.
Conflicts Analysis and Lawyer Disqualification
Mr. Dilworth leads the firm’s Conflict Analysis and Lawyer Disqualification practice. He is well-known for his extensive experience and background in analyzing and advising clients on complex conflicts of interest arising in a variety of contexts, including screening applications, and lawyer mobility and internal law firm client conflicts. Mr. Dilworth routinely counsels law firms and lawyers on risk assessments related to potential and actual conflict situations and is a trusted advisor to numerous firms in that regard. He also regularly litigates disqualification motions for law firms, applying his conflicts expertise.
Expert Witness, Consulting, and Risk Management
He serves as an expert on conflicts of interest and other legal and ethical issues related to lawyer conduct and compliance with applicable professional standards. Mr. Dilworth also has extensive experience counseling lawyers on attorney-client privilege and work product issues and on lawyer confidentiality obligations. And he is well-versed in conducting and advising law firms about internal audits and law-firm risk review assessments.
State Bar Admissions, Investigations and Discipline
Mr. Dilworth also represents existing and would-be lawyers in matters involving the State Bar. Such matters include attorney admission issues, unauthorized practice of law issues, moral character proceedings, corporate counsel registrations, State Bar investigative and disciplinary proceedings, law firm formation and structure issues, and transition and mobility issues related to lawyers admitted in other jurisdictions. Counseling of large law firms with regard to intra-firm movement of lawyers between offices, and the admissions and moral character proceeding issues associated with such activities, is a routine part of Mr. Dilworth’s practice.
Law-Related Business Counsel
Mr. Dilworth also counsels clients on law-related services and alternative business structures, applying his extensive knowledge of the rules of professional conduct to the representation of such clients so that their services, structures, and activities comply with applicable rules and regulations. This includes the representation of technology companies, law firms and lawyers, and more traditionally structured businesses and organizations.
The experience he brings to bear is further influenced by his involvement and leadership in organizations devoted to the study and development of the rules of professional conduct as applied to lawyers. Mr. Dilworth has served as a Past-Chair and Advisor to the California State Bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC). He is also a Past-Chair and Vice-Chair of the San Francisco Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee. Additionally, he has served as a Board member and Chair of the Risk Management Committee for a well-known law firm risk purchasing group made up of mid-size firms, many of whom reside in California. He also served for more than ten years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and is a current Lecturer at Berkeley Law, where he teaches on the Legal Profession.
Mr. Dilworth has dedicated the last twenty-plus years of his practice to assisting lawyers and law firms throughout California in their handling of complex ethical issues. He brings the same dedication, loyalty, and commitment to his clients that has been the hallmark of his professional relationships within the legal community.
When he is not practicing law, Mr. Dilworth is an avid music fan and a relentless groupie.
University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D. 1995, Graduated Cum Laude
Northwestern University B.A. in Philosophy 1990
California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC)
– Advisor, 2018-2019
– Chair, 2017-2018
– Vice-Chair, 2016-2017
– Member, 2013-2016
Bar Association of San Francisco Legal Ethics Committee
– Chair, 2012-20133
– Vice-Chair, 2010-2011
Pilot Legis, Board Member (2018-2021)
– Chair of the Risk Management Committee (2018-2021)
Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL)
American Bar Association, ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
State Bar of California
“Ethics Update – What You Need to Know,” State Bar of California Twenty-Third Annual Ethics Symposium
“Ethics Update – What You Need to Know”, USC Gould School of Law 60th Annual Institute on Entertainment Law and Business
“Ethics Update – What You Need to Know”, State Bar of California Twenty-Second Annual Ethics Symposium
“The Perpetual Problem of UPL”, Pilot Legis 10th Annual Mid-Year Program
“Huffing, Puffing and Bluffing: The Bounds of Legal Ethics In Negotiations”, State Bar of California Annual Meeting
Author of several articles in the area of professional responsibility, appearing in publications such as the California Bar Journal, The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Bulletin; the Media Law Resource Center Ethics Column; and Los Angeles Lawyer. Recent articles include: Daily Journal, February 24, 2017 “The ‘Self Defense’ Exception to Confidentiality.”