Attorney Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco ... said the opinion eliminates any potential confusion about when attorneys can collect fees.
"This ruling is consistent with the California Supreme Court's pragmatic, centrist approach to judicial decision-making," Rubin said. "It ended up with a result that is fair to all parties in this and future cases."
The attorney general's office had also weighed in on the state's side. The office was in the unique position of wanting to see public-interest lawyers get compensated for their work but also having to defend the state against such litigation.
Although the court did not adopt the rule the state sought, Supervising Attorney General Ed Weil said the new guidelines are an improvement.
"As a practical matter, if you're an attorney out there deciding what to do, the only prudent course is an effort to resolve the matter before filing," he said. "If you don't, the ruling may come back to haunt you."