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You Need to Know

Five board of governors seats open

Ballots will be mailed May 2 to voters in five State Bar districts to elect representatives on the board of governors. The upcoming vacancies are — one each in Districts 4 (Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties), 6 (Santa Clara County), 7 (Los Angeles County), 8 (Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties) and 9 (Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties).

Any active member of the State Bar who maintains his or her principal office for the practice of law within the State Bar district in which there is a vacancy is eligible to run for a seat on the board. Lawyer members are elected for three-year terms and will assume their offices at the conclusion of the 2011 Annual Meeting in September.

Voting must be completed June 30. As it did this year, the bar will conduct a hybrid election, offering voters the option of voting electronically or by mail.

15th annual ethics symposium set for April 9

The State Bar’s 15th annual ethics symposium, Ethics Across the Profession, will take place April 9 at the UC Irvine School of Law. Sponsored by the bar’s Standing Committee on Professional 
Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC), the symposium provides advanced programs for attorneys in all practice areas who are interested in cutting-edge legal ethics issues.

Among the planned panel topics are:

  • Ethical issues in criminal law and The Innocence Project — analyzing the report on prosecutorial misconduct;
  • Electronic ethics issues including those involving virtual law offices, cloud computing, confidentiality and the attorney-client 

  • Ethical dilemmas faced by in-house counsel, including competence, conflicts, sex with clients, identifying the client,
 document searches and litigation holds; and,

  • The differences between the current and proposed Rules of Professional Conduct.

Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the new UC Irvine law school, will deliver the keynote address. Attendees at the all-day event can earn six hours of MCLE credit in legal ethics. In addition, each of the four one-and-a-half hour panels will be offered online April 9 as a webcast offering 1.5 hours of participatory MCLE credit. At least one of the videotaped panels, and perhaps more, will be offered later free of charge at the State Bar’s online MCLE store.

Questions may be addressed to Lauren McCurdy at 415-538-2107 or

LSNC needs volunteers for its board

The State Bar is seeking applications from attorneys interested in serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors for Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) for five vacant positions. Applicants must practice or reside in the county or region where the vacancy has occurred. The current vacancies are in the Butte, Mother Lode-El Dorado, Sacramento and Shasta regions.

The application deadline is April 15.

LSNC 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 operations.

Applicants should send a letter with their bar number and a résumé outlining work experience, community activity and educational background to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. Questions may be directed to or by calling 415-538-2534.

JNE Commission is looking for new members

Active members of the State Bar, former members of the judiciary and members of the public who are interested in volunteering to serve on the 2012 Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) may apply for an appointment. The application deadline is May 2.

Lawyer commissioners must be members of the bar in good standing, with a preference for those in practice 10 years or more. Consideration is given to lawyers with substantial litigation, trial and/or appellate experience. The commission also may include one or more former members of the judiciary; those with appellate backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The time commitment is at least 35-40 hours each month or approximately 55 working days per year.

JNE evaluates candidates for judicial appointment, maintaining a strict code of confidentiality.

Law corporations and LLPs must be registered

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; and
  • 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 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 page, LLP page, or the Law Office Management. Assistance is available at

Create a surrogacy agreement

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 practice.

Legal specialist exam set for October 

The certified legal specialist exam will be given October 25 in Pasadena and Oakland. Attorneys with three or more years of experience may sit for the exam in one of 13 areas of law: admiralty and maritime; appellate, civil; appellate, criminal; bankruptcy; criminal law, state; criminal law, federal; estate planning, trust and probate; family; franchise and distribution; immigration and nationality; legal malpractice; taxation; and workers’ compensation. 

Certification is a two-step process. In addition to passing the exam, specialists must demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field, practice in the specialty for five years (though they can take the test at three years), fulfill ongoing education requirements and be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with their work. 

Attorneys will have at least 18 months after passing the exam to complete these requirements, but they can begin tracking requirements for this portion of the process from their first day in practice using sample applications located on the website under each area of law.

The registration deadline for the exam is Sept. 26. The exam, given every other year, consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and eight short essays. For a limited time, new specialties in admiralty and legal malpractice have an alternate route to certification, replacing the exam with additional requirements. 

Feeling 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 all-new Support 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 & 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 All calls are confidential.

Litigation Section schedules A Week in Legal London in May

The State Bar Litigation Section will hold its 23rd “A Week in Legal London” May 15-20, offering attendees an opportunity to experience the inner workings of the English legal system, expand litigation skills and network with members of the London legal community. Participants will attend sessions at the Royal Courts of Justice, Old Bailey and the High Court of Justice, and attend luncheons at historic Inns of Court generally available only to members of the British legal community.

Participation is limited to 60 people. Additional information about the educational programs, registration and travel arrangements is available at Questions may be addressed to Michelle McFadden at or 801-278-3641.

Member benefits from CalBar Connect will sponsor a free webinar, The Ethics of Marketing your Law Practice: The Rules Related to Marketing in California, April 20 that offers two hours of MCLE ethics credit. The course includes tips to comply with specific marketing and client service rules and a template to develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Sign up for the free webinar at CalBar Connect.

As part of the State Bar’s member services and benefits initiative, CalBar Connect provides discounts on programs and goods and products like T-Mobile Cellular, Hertz Rental Cars and Lenovo Computers.

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 Profile. Go to “Account Information” and select “Update my mailing preferences (opt out).”

Members also may e-mail their opt-out request to

Include your bar number.