State Bar’s 2013 Annual Meeting slated for Oct. 10 to 13 in
The State Bar’s 86th Annual Meeting will take place in San Jose, the heart
of Silicon Valley, from Oct. 10 through 13. The meeting will allow attendees to
pick up to 18.5 hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit and
legal specialization, including all MCLE subfields. There will be 145 seminars
presented in three education tracks: technology, practice skills and
Scheduled speakers include author and legal affairs editor-in-charge for
Reuters Joan Biskupic; founding dean of the University of California Irvine
School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky; former White House Chief Information Officer
Theresa Payton; senior editor for Wired.com Kevin Poulsen; two-time president
of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez; and San Francisco
Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese M. Stewart. In addition, attendees will have
plenty of opportunities to network and learn about the latest legal technology,
publications, products and services at the Annual Meeting’s Exhibition Hall.
Registration will be available on site. For more information, visit the
Annual Meeting web
Council on Access & Fairness
seeks interim appointment
The State Bar’s Council on Access &
Fairness (COAF) is seeking applications to fill a vacancy created by a
resignation. The appointee will serve until October 2014 and be eligible for reappointment
to a new three-year term.
The council serves as the State Bar's “diversity think tank” and advises the Board of Trustees on ways to
enhance opportunities and advancement in the legal profession for diverse
populations, particularly those who have been underrepresented.
The 25-member council consists of lawyers,
judges, representatives from academia, and public members from diverse practice
settings and constituencies. The council seeks new members who will have
experience that represents the full spectrum of the diversity pipeline. The
pipeline includes pre-K to 12; college; law school and bar exam prep;
recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion in the profession; and judicial
The deadline for applications is Nov. 15. To
apply, go to the fillable
For more information about the council, see the council's
web page or contact Patricia Lee at 415-538-2240 or
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
- 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.
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
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.
Start the process of becoming a board certified specialist
in California by registering for the next exam that will be administered on
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
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 and 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. The final deadline is Oct.
See the State
Bar website to download an examination application and to learn more about
preparatory materials and classes.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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 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.
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
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).”