The Civil Justice Association of California found itself in a dilemma last year: Who should it support in a major contingency fee case in the California Supreme Court?

Its government association members, like the League of California Cities, wanted to back Santa Clara County and other government entities that seek to hire private lawyers on contingency to handle costly and time-consuming public nuisance cases. But CJAC’s industry members wanted to side with Atlantic Richfield Co. and other chemical manufacturers who argue that hiring such attorneys violates Supreme Court case law requiring government lawyers to remain neutral.