Training (and MCLE credit) available for fee arbitrators
Interested in volunteering for the State Bar (or your local
bar association) as a fee arbitrator? The State
Bar’s Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program (MFA) will be conducting trainings
for volunteer arbitrators throughout California.
Basic trainings will be conducted in San Diego on July 11,
2013 at the San
Diego County Bar Association and in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 19, 2013 at the Madonna Inn. Basic training sessions are three hours long and participants
will receive 2.75 hours of MCLE credit, one hour of which qualifies as ethics
An advanced training will be hosted by the San
Mateo County Bar Association on Sept. 26, 2013. The advanced training
session is two hours long and offers two hours of MCLE credit, one hour of
which qualifies as ethics credit. Participation in an advanced training
requires attendance at a basic training.
Minimum qualifications to serve as an attorney arbitrator
include five years active status as a member of the State Bar, no record of
public discipline and attendance at a basic training.
Questions can be directed to Doug Hull, director of the State Bar’s Mandatory
Fee Arbitration Program, at 415-538-2015.
New form mandatory for fee disputes with clients
As of July 1, attorneys who encounter a fee dispute with a client are
required to use the State Bar’s updated version of the Notice
of Client’s Right to Fee Arbitration form.
The new form, approved by the State Bar Board of Trustees on March 7,
incorporates a handful of changes, including clarifying who can request fee
arbitration and making it clear that more than one bar association may have
jurisdiction to hear a fee dispute. The new version also contains the State Bar
seal, a change made to ensure lawyers are providing clients with the correct
Business and Professions Code § 6201(a) requires that lawyers send the
notice to their clients before or at the time of initiating a lawsuit, or other
action to collect fees. Attorneys are legally required to use the State Bar’s
form – not their own version put on their firm’s letterhead.
Mandatory fee arbitration is designed to reduce the number of fee disputes
that end up in court. The vast majority of fee disputes handled through the
mandatory fee arbitration process are resolved without filing an action in
Superior Court, saving the courts valuable time and money, said Doug Hull,
director of the State Bar’s Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program.
California Bar Foundation invites board
The California Bar Foundation is looking
for attorneys, judges or members of the public to join its board of directors.
The foundation supports full
and equal access to the law, invests in the next generation of California
lawyers, educates Californians about their rights and responsibilities under
the law and promotes philanthropy throughout the legal community.
The board consists of up to 35 members
appointed by the State Bar Board of Trustees and three ex officio members.
Appointed members serve two-year terms and are expected to attend four board
meetings per year while actively participating on three board committees. Each
board member is expected to make a personally meaningful financial contribution
to the foundation and to actively participate in fundraising for the
Applications, consisting of a resume or
CV and statement of interest and qualifications, must be submitted via email by
Aug. 16 to Communications and Development Associate, Carlos Aguilar, email@example.com.
Start the process of becoming a board
certified specialist in California by registering for the next exam
administered Oct. 22, 2013.
The California Supreme Court created the
specialist program to increase public protection by identifying attorneys who
are specialists in key areas of law and by encouraging the highest standards of
practice in the profession.
The State Bar of California Board of
Legal Specialization offers the examination every other year in the following
areas of law: admiralty, appellate, bankruptcy, criminal, estate planning,
trust & probate, family, franchise immigration, legal malpractice, taxation
and workers’ compensation.
Attorneys who have been practicing in
the specialty area since January 2012 or earlier are eligible to register.
Register early to guarantee your preferred test center site in either South San
Francisco or Pasadena. Registration must be received by Sept. 10, 2013.
See the State Bar website to download an
examination application and to learn more about preparatory materials and
changes to the law concerning construction-related disability access claims
Senate Bill No.
authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and
Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), made significant changes to the law,
some of which impose State Bar disciplinary consequences on lawyers. The bill
contains an urgency clause, which means it was effective immediately upon
enactment Sept. 19, 2012, but some of its provisions didn’t go into effect until
Jan. 1. The bill includes the following provisions, all of which govern
construction-related disability access claims:
- A general prohibition against
sending a demand letter that includes a request or demand for money or an
offer or agreement to accept money, effective immediately
- A revision to the existing
mandatory written advisory that must be provided with a demand letter or
complaint, effective immediately
- A requirement that a lawyer send a
copy of a demand letter to the State Bar and the California Commission on
Disability Access, effective Jan. 1.
- A requirement that a demand letter
sent by a lawyer include the lawyer’s State Bar license number, effective
- A requirement that a lawyer send a
copy of a complaint to the California Commission on Disability Access,
effective Jan. 1.
- A requirement that demand letters
and complaints contain plain language sufficient for a recipient business
or property owner to determine the basis of alleged violations, including:
specific identification of each access barrier encountered; the date of
the incident; and a description of how each barrier interfered with full
and equal access, effective Jan. 1.
- A requirement that a complaint be
verified by the plaintiff, effective Jan. 1. A complaint filed
without verification is subject to a motion to strike
- A reduction of statutory damages if
specified conditions apply, effective immediately
- The establishment of procedures for
a mandatory evaluation conference, effective as to claims filed on or
after Jan. 1.
Help JNE move to
The State Bar commission that evaluates
the governor’s candidates for judgeships is seeking the help of attorneys to
solicit information electronically.
For more than 20 years, the Commission
on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, commonly known as the JNE (“Jenny”)
Commission, has gathered information about candidates by mailing paper comment
forms to attorneys. Over the past 18 months, the commission has experimented
with the use of email to gather comments, but has encountered one barrier: the
spam filter. While most of JNE’s emails reach their intended recipients, a
significant number are blocked.
Attorneys can solve this problem by
authorizing the spam filters serving their email address listed with the State
Bar to accept the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who work
in legal offices can help by asking their IT specialists to authorize the JNE
email address for all spam filters serving office computers.
The electronic comment forms are
identical to the written forms. A hyperlink in the email takes the commenter to
a website where a form identical to the written comment form can be completed
electronically. The electronic comments are maintained confidentially, with
access only by investigating commissioners and staff. The use of email appears
to result in response rates at least as high as the use of written forms, and
it will save the State Bar tens of thousands of dollars a year in copying,
stationery and postage costs.
Bar rules book
available for e-Reader
To facilitate a lawyer’s ability to
readily identify and address legal ethics issues, the State Bar has published
an e-Reader version of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act.
The e-Reader version of the rule book is compatible with the Kindle Reader App,
a free e-Reader application available for iPads, iPhones, Blackberry phones,
Android phones, Macbooks, and PC laptops. The book also works on all versions
of Amazon.com’s Kindle.
The 2012 edition of the e‑Reader
version of the rule book can be purchased at Amazon.com for $6.99, a
significant discount from the price of the hardcopy book. It offers several
useful features including a search function, bookmarking, highlighting and
annotating. In addition, once downloaded to a tablet, smart phone or other
compatible device, the book can be accessed at any time, even without an
Internet or cellular data signal.
The bar’s rule book has been published
for more than 65 years. The 30-page edition published in 1949 has grown to 411
hard copy pages. In addition to the rules and State Bar Act, the book includes
other related authorities such as selected Rules of Court, code sections, the
Federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, the State Bar Pro Bono
Resolution, the Lawyer Referral Service rules, MCLE rules and more.
Legal ethics and
technology resource page is online
The general Ethics Information page at the State
Bar website has an area dedicated to Ethics and
― a collection of resources that address professional responsibility
issues raised by the use of websites, email, chat rooms and other technologies.
The resources include advisory ethics opinions, articles and MCLE programs.
Most of the resources are internal links
to other pages on the bar’s website and some are external links to local or
specialty bar associations. The page is organized both by the type of resource
(ethics opinion, article, etc.) and by subject matter (law firm websites,
electronic files, social networking, etc.).
The service focuses on providing basic
legal research leads on how the rules apply to new technologies rather than
specific law office systems, hardware or software options. For the latter, the
resources of the State Bar’s Law Practice Management &
can be considered.
Register a law
Law corporations are required to
register with both the California Secretary of State and the State Bar of
California under Corporations Code §13404. Registration requirements are set
forth in Business & Professions Code §§6160 and 6161.
Rules and application materials are
available on the State Bar website. Information required to register a law
- Proof of registration with the
Secretary of State
- Submission of bylaws and a sample
share certificate containing the appropriate restrictions on share
- A completed application that
reports all the attorneys who are associated with the corporation
- Submission of the Guarantee for
Claims in the appropriate amount
- A Declaration of Compliance with
Limited Liability Partnerships providing
legal services are also required to register with the State Bar. If not
registered, attorneys should be particularly aware of California Corporations
Code § 16306(f), which specifically removes the protection from liability for
claims based upon legal work.
Prior to registering with the Secretary
of State, it is advisable to check with the State Bar to ensure that the entity
name complies with rules and has not already been registered. Additional
information is available at the Law Corporations
LLP page, or the Law Office
Assistance is available at LLP@calbar.ca.gov.
An “Agreement to Close Law Practice in
the Future” is available on the State Bar website for attorneys who want to
plan for the possibility they will not be able to continue to work. The sample
agreement, available to all lawyers, spells out the responsibilities of the
primary attorney and his or her successor in the case of death or incapacity.
If a lawyer designates a successor using
the new sample contract, the designated surrogate goes to court for appointment
as the practice administrator who can take control and dispose of the practice.
A lengthy list of duties is part of the contract and includes the ability to
open mail, become a signatory on bank accounts, notify clients and transfer
files, pay bills and handle funds, and accept the original attorney’s clients
and cases. The practice administrator also will have the power to sell the
stressed? The Lawyer Assistance Program can help
Attorneys struggling to cope with the
stress of a challenging economic environment or a difficult employment
situation are invited to contact the Lawyer
(LAP), which now offers new support programs in addition to its traditional
help with substance abuse and depression. Support is offered for issues like
stress, relationship and personal problems, grief and anxiety.
The LAP is designed for attorneys who
might wish to participate in a weekly group with other lawyers and would like
the support of a mental health professional (group facilitator) or a trained
peer counselor who is familiar with attorneys’ particular challenges.
The LAP also offers an Orientation and
Assessment (O&A) to any attorney who wants professional assistance to cope
with personal problems, work problems, substance abuse or other mental health
issues. The O&A provides a confidential assessment completed by one of the
LAP clinicians located throughout the state. Referrals to outside resources and
an opportunity to participate in a LAP group for a short period of time also are
provided. There is no fee for this service.
Interested attorneys should call 877 LAP
4 HELP (877-527-4435) or contact LAP@calbar.ca.gov. All calls are
benefits from CalBar Connect
State Bar members can save up to 25
percent every time they rent with Hertz, a participant in CalBar Connect, the
State Bar’s member services and benefits initiative. Visit the Hertz page for details.
CalBar Connect, which provides discounts
to all State Bar members, also offers a variety of insurance plans including Professional
Compensation Insurance, Group and Individual
Life Insurance, AD&D, Auto, Home and Business Office plans.
Opt out of lists
Attorneys who wish to remove their names
from lists the State Bar provides to qualified outside entities may do so by
logging on to My State Bar
Go to “Account Information” and select “Update my mailing preferences (opt