The California Court of Appeal has ruled that public agencies are prohibited from using partners in the same law firm as an advocate in a contested matter and as an advisor to the decision maker in the same matter, even if the law firm has established an ethical wall between the partners. Sabey v. City of Pomona, No. B239916 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 16, 2013). The Court found that, although there was no evidence of bias or improper conduct — as the attorneys did not communicate about the matter and could not access each other’s files — the situation created the appearance of unfairness and bias because the attorneys, as partners, owed one another a fiduciary duty of loyalty. Consequently, the Court held that the public agency’s law firm could not serve as both advocate and advisor, and the use of an ethical wall was not sufficient to prevent actual or the appearance of unfairness and bias. For details on Sabey, please see Private Attorneys from Same Firm Cannot be Public Entity’s Advisor and Advocate in Single Matter, California Court Rules.