Government Ethics

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Government Ethics
California state capitol building
Government Ethics
Joan Cassman

Public confidence is essential for a government agency’s operations. With scrutiny heightened by social media, officials must maintain the highest level of professional standards. Hanson Bridgett assists institutions in developing guidelines, recognizing potential hazards, and defending themselves when charged with ethical wrongdoing.

Training and Prevention

With our years of experience, we know how government entities operate and how easily they can slip into ethical and legal pitfalls. As part of our responsibilities – as advisors, general counsel, or city attorneys – we help clients develop a culture of professionalism and integrity through education and awareness.

We have the greatest impact in our day-to-day service to our clients, which includes prevention. To this end, we provide training programs and help set up internal controls to identify problems before they become front-page headlines. We are always on the lookout for potential misconduct or other lapses in judgment, whether a conflict of interest or a misuse of public resources. In working with public officials, we try to instill in them a moral compass and steer them away from potentially problematic conduct.

Crisis Management

Few, if any, law firms share our background in helping public agencies manage crisis situations. When a public figure is charged with ethical wrongdoing, we help devise a strategy for the best course of action in addressing the problem, as well as restoring public confidence. We have been called upon when a public employee has embezzled funds, or an official is accused of serious misconduct.

These situations often draw media attention, which can hamper an investigation. Working quickly and efficiently, we advise officials on what their authority is in the situation, what measures they can take, and how they can continue to operate. Our ultimate goal, however, is to keep our clients out of trouble.

Our attorneys have experience in the numerous areas of law in which ethical issues can arise, including the following:

  • Procurement and contracting
  • Financial policies such as reserve requirements and rate-setting
  • Conflict of interest
  • Election law and campaign contributions
  • Brown Act and open meeting requirements
  • Labor and employment issues – whistle-blower protection, confidentiality
  • Accessibility and non-discrimination requirements
  • Advocacy and government relations