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Government Ethics

Government Ethics

With our years of experience, we understand how important ethics are to the functioning of any public agencypublic confidence is essential to any agency’s operations. We help public agencies develop a culture of professionalism and integrity through education, awareness, and prevention. 

We routinely provide ethics counsel in three areas: training, advice and counseling, and crisis management. 


We train agency staff and public officials to instill in them a professional moral compass and steer them away from potentially problematic conduct. We provide training on the Political Reform Act, Government Code 1090, and all areas of AB 1234 compliance. These trainings, many of which use examples drawn from our firm's first-hand experience in the numerous areas of law in which ethical issues can arise, are often interactive and include guidance on the ethical requirements of:

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

Advice & Counsel

We provide counseling when an independent and unbiased evaluation and investigation is called for, ranging from analysis of conflicts of interest to investigation of a formal ethics complaint lodged against a public official.  We are ethics advisors to two of the largest cities in California and to countless other cities and public agencies throughout the State. We interpret both local and State law and advise on matters implicating ethics, conflicts of interest, campaign finance, and all related issues. We also regularly assist institutions in developing guidelines, recognizing potential hazards, and responding to charges of ethical wrongdoing.

Crisis Management

We are often the first phone call in crisis situations when a public official or employee is accused of serious misconduct. When a public figure is charged with ethical wrongdoing, we help devise a strategy for the best course of action in addressing the problem and restoring public confidence. These situations often draw media attention, which can hamper an investigation. Working quickly and efficiently, we advise public officials on what their authority is in the situation, what measures they can take, and how they can ensure that the public agency continues to serve the public during a challenging time. 


Key Contacts

Joan Cassman
Joan Cassman
San Francisco, CA

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