Nominations sought for the
2014 Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award
The California Commission on Access to Justice is seeking
nominations of California judges for the 2014 Benjamin Aranda III Access to
Justice Award. The deadline is May 30. The Aranda award recognizes one
California trial judge, appellate court justice or commissioner for his or her
efforts to improve access to the judicial system. Recipients have demonstrated
a long-term commitment to equal access to the courts and have done significant
work in improving access to the courts for low and moderate income
Californians. The nomination form and additional information is available
online. Contact Frank Monti,
415-538-2141, for questions or further information.
Discipline Standards Task
Force to meet May 12
A new task force to review the State Bar’s attorney
discipline standards will hold its first meeting May 12 in San
The Discipline Standards Task Force will review the
Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct to decide whether
a comprehensive overhaul is needed. The standards are used to determine the
appropriate sanction in a particular case and ensure consistency in how
cases are dealt with.
The standards, written in 1986, underwent a general clean-up
and reorganization last year. However, the question was raised of whether more
substantive changes were needed. The current standards can be found in Title IV
of the Rules
“The work of this task force is extremely important to the
bar’s mission of public protection. I’m confident this group will conduct a
thoughtful review of the guidelines,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez
Those interested in following the work of the task force may
subscribe to meeting agendas on the Board of Trustees web
Legal Services of Northern
California seeking attorneys for board vacancies
The State Bar of California is seeking applications from
attorneys interested in serving on the Board of Directors for Legal Services of
Northern California (LSNC) for vacant positions in the following regions: Butte
(3), Mother Lode (1), Redwood (3), Sacramento (4), Shasta (1), Solano (2) and
Applicants must practice or reside in the county or region
where the vacancy has occurred. The regions/counties served by LSNC are:
Sacramento, Yolo, Butte, Tehama, Glenn, Plumas, Colusa, Placer, Amador,
Calaveras, Nevada, Sierra, El Dorado, Shasta, Lassen, Modoc, Trinity, Siskiyou,
Solano and Redwood Region.
The term of office is three years. Deadline for receipt of
applications is May 1.
Legal Services of Northern California is a nonprofit Legal
Services Corporation-funded program created to provide legal assistance to
low-income residents of 23 northern California counties. The 36-member board
meets five times a year to make policy decisions governing the program's
Eligible applicants must be State Bar members, support the
purposes of the Legal Services Corporation Act, have an interest in and
knowledge of the delivery of quality legal services to the poor, and have a
sincere commitment to the program’s mission to provide quality legal services
to empower the poor to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty
within their community. Applications will be initially reviewed by the LSNC board of directors.
Interested attorneys should apply by letter, listing the
reasons they should be appointed. A resume outlining work experience, community
activity and educational background must be included. The letter or resume
should include attorney bar number. Send application materials to Sarah Lindsey
Chanrasmi, The State Bar of California, Office of Legal Services, 180 Howard
St., San Francisco, CA 94105. Questions may be directed to Sarah Lindsey
Chanrasmi at 415-538-2534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for the Solo and
Small Firm Summit
The State Bar of California
will hold its annual Solo and Small Firm Summit June 19 to 21 in Newport
Being billed as “Not Your
Ordinary MCLE Weekend!” the summit offers solo and small firm practitioners and
office staff an opportunity to network and come away with workable strategies
to manage their offices, build a client referral network and stay on top of key
developments in various substantive areas of law.
For more information or to
register, visit the event’s website at www.calbar.org/solosummit.
Serve on the
Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation
The State Bar seeks active members of the bar, former
members of the judiciary and members of the public who are interested in
volunteering to serve on the 2015 Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation
(JNE Commission). The application deadline is June 2. The application
form and information on the commission are available from the committees and commissions page of the State Bar website or by calling 415-538-2370.
address in LA
The Los Angeles offices of the State Bar and State Bar Court
have moved. The new address is 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515.
The bar’s headquarters remains at 180 Howard St. in San Francisco.
New law affects immigration attorneys
Attorneys and immigration consultants are prohibited from
collecting money for services related to federal immigration reform until
Congress acts under a State Bar-sponsored bill that went into effect last fall.
The consumer protection legislation, authored by Assemblywoman
Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, was introduced in response to reports from law
enforcement that the federal debate over immigration reform was prompting scams
aimed at undocumented immigrants.
The legislation, which went into effect upon Gov. Jerry
Brown’s signature Oct. 5, also:
- Requires attorneys and immigration consultants to account
for any money already accepted for immigration reform services and either
refund the money or deposit it in a client trust account.
- Requires attorneys to inform clients receiving immigration
reform act services where they can report complaints. A notice
for attorneys to use has been posted on the State Bar’s website and
has been translated into multiple languages.
- Increases the amount of bond that immigration consultants
must carry from $50,000 to $100,000 as of July 1.
- Prohibits the use of the term “notario,” which has been
misconstrued as someone who is qualified to give legal advice.
- Provides that a person who violates the ban on the use of
the term “notario” is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 a day for
judicial office? Take this mandatory free course
California judges and lawyers seeking a judicial office must
take a new online judicial ethics course within 60 days of filing for office,
creating a campaign committee or receiving a campaign contribution. The mandatory
judicial ethics course went online last month.
The course was developed by a working group of justices,
judges and lawyers after the Supreme Court adopted the mandatory rule, along
with other changes to the California Code of Judicial Ethics, almost a year
ago. The Rules
of Professional Conduct require a lawyer candidate for judicial office to
comply with the Code of Judicial Ethics.
“The Supreme Court changed the rules to promote and enhance
public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and to
provide guidance on the ethical obligations and responsibilities of those
running for judicial office,” Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said.
The rule came out of the work of the Commission for Impartial Courts.
Time is money and legal research takes time. California
legal ethics research can be particularly time-consuming. First, California is
not an ABA Model Rule jurisdiction, so dusting off your law school textbook or
simply Googling won’t always cut it. On top of that, the applicable California
law is often found in multiple sources, many of which are unfamiliar to most
lawyers. If you consult the California
Rules of Professional Conduct, that’s great, but you can’t stop there.
Consider the following questions:
- May an attorney use inadvertently disclosed confidential
- Does the “no contact” rule permit an attorney to imply
opposing counsel’s consent?
- Is a “virtual law office” an ethical alternative for
starting a solo practice?
You can get assistance in researching these questions by
calling the State Bar of California’s Ethics Hotline. This
call-back service is free, staffed by live people and typically has a
turnaround time of one business day or less.
If you’ve never tried calling the Ethics Hotline, here’s the
official pitch: The Ethics Hotline is a confidential telephone research service
for attorneys. This service is staffed by specially trained paralegals who can
refer callers to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, State Bar Act
sections, published bar association ethics opinions and other relevant
authorities. Although the Ethics Hotline does not render opinions or give
advice, this guidance serves as a valuable resource that can jump-start legal
ethics research and aid lawyers in making informed decisions about their legal
Attorneys can reach the Ethics Hotline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
on weekdays by calling 800-238-4427 (800-2-ETHICS) from within California, or 415-538-2150
when calling from outside of California.
form 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 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
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.
voice heard in evaluating judges
The State Bar commission that evaluates the governor’s
candidates for judgeships is seeking the help of attorneys to solicit
For more than 30 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.
During the past few years, the commission has successfully implemented the use
of email to gather comments, but continues to encounter one barrier: the spam
filter. Most of JNE’s emails do reach their intended recipients. However, some
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: email@example.com.
Those who work in legal offices, public agencies and the court system 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. It has proven to
be a cost-effective and efficient method of transmitting time-sensitive,
Questions and comments about the process can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
The 2013 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.
ethics and technology resource page is online
The general Ethics
Information page on the State Bar website has an area dedicated to Ethics
and Technology ― 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 & Technology Section can be considered.
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 corporation includes:
- Proof of registration with the Secretary of State
- Submission of bylaws and a sample share certificate
containing the appropriate restrictions on share ownership
- A completed application that reports all the attorneys who
are associated with the corporation
- Submission of the Guarantee for Claims in the appropriate
- A Declaration of Compliance with Rule 1-400
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
Prior to registering with the Secretary of State, be sure to
check with the State Bar to determine if the entity name complies with rules
and has not already been registered. Additional information is available at the Law
Corporations page, LLP
page, or the Law
Office Management page. For questions or help, send an email to 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
Assistance Program (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 a free 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 confidential.
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
liability insurance, workers’
compensation insurance, group
and individual disability plans, life
insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), auto, home and business
the law through a State Bar section membership
Join other leading
attorneys and legal professionals who are passionate about their practices.
Each State Bar section provides its members with valuable tools including
e-newsletters, publications and more. Highly regarded as a premier provider of
legal education, the 16 sections deliver specialized training and practical
programs including symposiums, one-day seminars and multi-day conferences,
on-line seminars, self-study curriculum as well as updates on trends and
changes in the law. Visit our online
catalog, which contains more than 1,000 individual seminars.
Sections can also figure heavily when initiating or
advocating legislation and regulations. Plus, most of the sections participate
in major public education efforts and community service activities, such as
consumer radio shows and booklets that explain legal rights. Your minimal
annual membership helps to fund all these essential programs and services.
What’s more, your membership is a tax-deductible investment.
Opt out of
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
Profile. Go to “account information” and select “Update my mailing
preferences (opt out).”