Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on Linked In Share this by Email
California Bar Foundation
You Need to Know

Diversity award winners get kudos

The State Bar recently published more information online about those who were recognized by the State Bar for their outstanding efforts to promote diversity in the legal profession.

The bar honored the winners of the Diversity and Education Pipeline Awards on Oct. 1. at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego. Nominations for next year’s award will be solicited beginning in early 2017 and reviewed by the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness. For more information contact Patricia Lee at 415-538-2240.

Sign up to help a veteran

With Veterans Day coming up, the Practising Law Institute is offering a free CLE course on “Advocating for Veterans” on Nov. 14 in San Francisco. Last year, more than 1,000 attorneys signed up for the program online and in person.

To work with the Veterans Administration attorneys must be accredited and complete three hours of legal education. The free training program was featured in the October California Bar Journal.

Annual discipline hearings scheduled

The State Bar of California has set the dates for its annual public hearings to receive proposals on attorney disciplinary and admissions procedures as well as the maintenance or improvement of attorney competence.

The hearings will be held on Dec. 7 at 180 Howard St., San Francisco, and Dec. 8 at 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. The hearings will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude when all speakers have addressed the panel.

The hearings will be webcast for the public, however those who wish to speak must be present. Sign up by Dec. 2 by contacting Doug Hull at 415-538-2015 or

State Bar committees recruiting volunteers

Applications are being accepted for dozens of volunteer positions that are coming available next year through the State Bar.

The State Bar’s Board of Trustees appoints members to 10 standing committees, 16 section executive committees and 21 special committees, boards and commissions, along with five outside entities.

More information about all of the 2016-17 appointments, as well as a link to the online application, is available on the appointments page of the State Bar's website.

Applications also are available by writing to the appointments office, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639, or by calling 415-538-2370.

Most of the volunteer positions carry a three-year term, and the application deadline for most appointments is Jan. 27. Applicants may apply to as many as three committees, but can be appointed to only one. The Board of Trustees will make the appointments next summer.

Find a certified/registered court interpreter

Under Government Code Section 68561 (with definitions in Section 68560.5), a deposition in a civil case filed in a court of record is a “court proceeding” and therefore an interpreter used shall be either: 1) a certified court interpreter for languages designated by the Judicial Council (see link for current languages: or 2) a registered court interpreter for languages not designated by the Judicial Council (all other languages). Attorneys can use the Judicial Council master list ( to search for certified and registered interpreters who are in good standing with the council.

Attorneys should also be aware that effective Jan. 1, 2015, California Government Code Section 68561 was amended to include section (h), which requires certain information that a certified or registered interpreter must state for the record in the deposition and the documentation regarding the interpreter’s qualifications that a certified or registered interpreter must present to both parties in a deposition.

Running for judicial office? Take this mandatory free course

California judges and lawyers seeking judicial office must take an 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 in 2014.

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 rule came out of the work of the Commission for Impartial Courts.

Consult the Ethics Hotline

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 information?
  • 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 staff 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 ethics questions.

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.

Use this form for fee disputes with clients

Attorneys who encounter a fee dispute with a client are reminded to use the State Bar’s version of the Notice of Client’s Right to Fee Arbitration form. The form has been approved by the State Bar Board of Trustees and contains the State Bar seal to ensure that lawyers provide clients with the correct form.

Business and Professions Code Section 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.