Health insurance program to be
Come this fall, California attorneys will have a valuable new
resource for finding health insurance.
The State Bar is in the process of establishing a health
care program that will help lawyers find health care
insurance by connecting them with sponsored health care broker administrators. The
program is expected to go live in time for the Oct. 1 rollout of California’s
new health insurance exchange, mandated under the 2010 Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act, which requires that most Americans obtain health insurance
Of particular benefit to sole practitioners and lawyers with
small- to mid-sized firms, the State Bar sponsored health care broker administrators will help attorneys choose
health insurance plans suited to their individual needs. Insurance premiums will be paid directly to the health insurance companies.
The program is being overseen by the State Bar Committee on Group Insurance Programs, which is also responsible for a
number of State Bar-sponsored insurance programs including life, long-term
care, disability and homeowner’s.
For more information, contact Laila Bartlett, staff
coordinator group for insurance programs at (415) 538-2232 or Laila.email@example.com.
Young lawyer vacancy on the
Committee of Bar Examiners
State Bar has an immediate opening for a young lawyer member on the Committee
of Bar Examiners. The young lawyer member must be in active practice, admitted
in California three years or less as of Nov. 15, 2013, and not have a relative
taking a 2014 or 2015 California bar examination.
application form is available online or from the State Bar’s
Appointments Office (415-538-2299). The application deadline is Sept. 16,
2013. Details about the time commitment and the committee are found on the State Bar website.
Calling all bar and bench
members with artistic talent
Attorneys and judges can celebrate their creative streaks by
entering their works of art in the State Bar’s 61th Annual Meeting Bench and
Bar Art Exhibit. All entries must be submitted by Sept. 13, 2013.
The artwork will be showcased at the State Bar Annual
Meeting from Oct. 10 to 13, 2013 in San Jose. Awards will be given for oils and
acrylics, portraits and figures, watercolors, prints, drawings, mixed media,
ceramics, sculpture and photography.
Entry blanks and information are available by emailing the
art show coordinator at AnnualMeeting@calbar.ca.gov.
Organizers are also looking for volunteers to help set up the exhibits.
Supreme Court committee
seeks feedback on judicial ethics opinion
The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics
Opinions invites public
comment on a draft advisory opinion dealing with judicial ex parte
communications in family law cases.
The draft opinion provides guidance on a local rule that
authorizes a judge to review a request for (non-domestic violence) emergency
orders in a family law matter in order to determine whether the moving papers
show the necessity for an emergency hearing. The local rule permits the review
to occur without notice to the other party and without a showing that good
cause exists not to give notice. The draft opinion concludes that the local
rule facilitates and permits ex parte communications, which violates the standards
for ethical conduct in the California Code of Judicial Ethics.
After considering public comment, the committee will decide
whether or not to publish an opinion in final form. Comments, due Sept. 9, may
be made online,
emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
or mailed to committee staff member Nancy Black, 350 McAllister St., San
slot open on Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles board
Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is
looking for an attorney to fill an open seat.
for the three-year position must be State Bar members, support the Legal
Services Corporation Act and have a keen interest in delivering quality legal
services to the poor. LAFLA board members are also expected to volunteer their
time to fundraise for the organization and make individual contributions.
applicants should send a letter describing why they should be appointed and
include a resume that includes their work history, community work and education
to Sarah Lindsey Chanrasmi at the State Bar of California, Office of Legal
Services, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105. Contact Chanrasmi at 415-538-2534
or email her at email@example.com for questions. Information about LAFLA is available online at http://www.lafla.org .
will be initially reviewed by the LAFLA Board of Directors. The deadline to
apply is Sept. 30.
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
- Is a “virtual law office” an ethical alternative for starting a
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.
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 conduct trainings for
volunteer arbitrators throughout California.
Basic training will be conducted in
San Luis Obispo on Sept. 19, 2013 at the Madonna Inn. Basic training
sessions are three hours long and participants receive 2.75 hours of MCLE
credit, one hour of which qualifies as ethics credit.
An advanced training session will be hosted by the San
Mateo County Bar Association on Sept. 26, 2013. The session is two hours
long and offers two hours of MCLE credit, one hour of which qualifies as ethics
credit. You must attend basic training before participating in an advanced
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 MFA 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
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 Oct.
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. Register early to
guarantee your preferred test center site in either South San Francisco or
Pasadena. For the lowest fee, register by Sept. 10. The final deadline is Oct. 15.
See the State
Bar website to download an examination application and to learn more about
preparatory materials and classes.
Help JNE move
to paperless evaluations
The State Bar commission that evaluates the governor’s
candidates for judgeships is seeking the help of attorneys to solicit
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. Although
most of JNE’s emails do reach their intended recipients, a significant number
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
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.
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 amount
- 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
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,
Opt out of
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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).”