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Carole J. Buckner | California Legal Ethics Lawyer

Partner and General Counsel, Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP | Ethics Lawyer | Expert Opinion | State Bar Defense | Professional Responsibility | The Law of Lawyering

Carole J. Buckner, Attorney at Law

Carole J. Buckner, Partner and General Counsel at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves and Savitch, LLP.

Carole J. Buckner, J.D., AV Peer Review Rated

Carole J. Buckner, J.D., AV Peer Review Rated

Carole is an AV Peer Review Rated attorney admitted to the California State Bar in 1984.  Carole serves as General Counsel for Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP, and advises law firms and lawyers concerning a wide variety of legal ethics issues.

Carole holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1980) and a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco (1984).

She is available for consulting and legal advice in the field of legal ethics and issues involving professional responsibility, and the law of lawyering.  Carole has also served as an expert consultant on issues involving legal ethics including legal fees, billing, fee agreements, conflicts of interest, fee sharing, referral fees, unauthorized practice of law, withdrawal from representation, modification of fee agreements, client trust accounting, and other issues.

Carole has extensive experience with legal ethics and professional responsibility on the state and local levels. On the state level, Carole was a member of the California State Bar’s Committee on Professionalism and Conduct from 2005 to 2011.  She served as COPRAC chair in 2009-2010, and later as the Special Advisor to the Committee. COPRAC authors State Bar ethics opinions and ethics alerts, and provides continuing legal education to the members of the bar.

Carole is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee.  Carole is also a member and the former Co-Chair of the Professionalism and Ethics Committee of the Orange County Bar Association. She is a member and former chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Committee on Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee (PREC).  Carole currently serves on the California State Bar's Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration, and is a fee arbitrator for the Orange County Bar Association.

Carole’s background combines real world law practice experience with an in-depth knowledge of ethics. From her experience as a partner in private law firms (Berger, Kahn et al., and Pettis, Tester, et al.), Carole appreciates how ethics issues arise in a private practice. With her background as a litigator handling business, real estate, and employment matters from the inception of her practice with Rutan & Tucker, Carole takes a practical, realistic approach to common ethics dilemmas arising in connection with litigation. Her experience working as in-house counsel at Amplicon, Inc. and California First National Bank Corp., a publicly traded company, provides her with insight into commonsense approaches to ethics issues faced by corporate counsel. As a former federal prosecutor, she is also intimately familiar with ethical issues encountered in the criminal arena.

Carole has also spoken and written extensively on a wide variety of ethics related topics. Through COPRAC, the OCBA, PLI, and other organizations, Carole has spoken at the State Bar’s Annual Ethics Symposiums, State Bar Annual Meetings, OCBA programs, and in other venues, on a wide variety of ethics related topics, including attorneys’ fees, client trust accounting, conflicts of interest, confidentiality issues, screening, judicial recusal, lawyer advertising, collaborative law, prosecutorial misconduct, ethical issues arising from lawyer impairment, and many others. Carole has also participated as a panelist on the annual update on ethics-related cases. Also on behalf of COPRAC, Carole has closely monitored the work of the Commission on the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which is re-writing California’s Rules of Professional Conduct, and has written articles and spoken regarding the Commission’s proposals.

Carole also has extensive experience in legal education.  Carole taught the core professional responsibility at Western State University College of Law.  The course covered the broad scope of legal ethics issues, including the duty of confidentiality, attorney client privilege, conflicts of interest, advertising regulation, legal fees and client trust accounting, legal malpractice, discipline, judicial ethics, and other important ethics issues. She has also created and taught a class at Western called Legal Ethics and Business Representation, which addresses ethical issues for corporate and transactional lawyers, including conflicts of interest and confidentiality, the lawyer as director, ethical issues in corporate internal investigations, related party transactions and the corporate opportunity doctrine, lawyers taking equity interests, and other important issues.

She is the former Dean of St. Francis School of Law in Newport Beach, California, where she taught Professional Responsibility, and former Dean and Chief Academic Officer of Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law in Los Angeles, California, where she created and taught Contemporary Ethical Issues, covering judicial ethics, prosecutorial misconduct, client trust accounting, conflicts of interest and screening, and other issues as well as other courses.  She also served as Associate Dean at Concord Law School of Kaplan University.

On the local level, Carole is a member of the Orange County Bar Association, and is co-chair of the OCBA’s Professionalism and Ethics Committee. She has served as a contributing editor of the Ethically Speaking column in the OC Lawyer Magazine for over five years, and has authored numerous articles on a variety of topics, including attorneys’ fees, judicial ethics, the attorney client privilege, sex with clients, temporary or contract lawyering, screening, the self-defense privilege, impaired lawyers, and other ethics related topics.

Carole is also a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL), and a member and former chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee (PREC).


Current Affiliations

Past Affiliations

  • Buckner Law Corp. (8/2010 to 5/2017)
  • Dean, St. Francis School of Law
  • Associate Dean, Concord Law School of Kaplan University
  • Dean, Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law, teaching Contemporary Ethical Issues, Evidence, Contracts, UCC, Remedies, Real Property, and Employment Law
  • Special Advisor and Former Chair, California State Bar, Committee on Professional Responsibility & Conduct (COPRAC)
  • Special Assistant United States Attorney, USPS-OIG (12/06 - 6/10) - Federal Criminal Prosecutor
  • Carole J. Buckner Professional Corporation (5/01-12/09) - Business litigation
  • Western State University College of Law (8/01- 12/10)  - Adjunct Professor (2001-02) teaching legal writing; Visiting Professor (2002-03) - teaching Civil Procedure; Associate Professor (2003-2006) - teaching Civil Procedure, Remedies, Professional Responsibility, Torts, Expert Learning for Law Students, Business Law Ethics (tenure awarded 2006);  Professor of the Year 2002, 2003, 2004; Adjunct Professor (2006-2010) teaching Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Business Law Ethics, and Civil Procedure.
  • California First National Bancorp/Amplicon - (5/00 - 12/03) - part time Corporate Counsel/Associate General Counsel
  • Hart, King & Coldren (1/00 - 5/00) - Associate - Business Litigation
  • Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone (8/94-12/96) - Partner 1995 - Business, commercial, and employment litigation
  • Pettis, Tester, Kruse & Krinsky (1988-1994) - Partner 1991 - Business, commercial, and employment litigation
  • Rutan & Tucker (1984-1988) - Associate - Business, commercial, and employment litigation