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You Need to Know

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. In addition, immigration and nationality standards have been updated to accommodate practice realities for business immigration lawyers.

Calling all artists

Members of the bench and bar who draw, sculpt or work in ceramics or photography are cordially invited to participate in the 59th Annual Meeting Bench and Bar Art Exhibit. The artwork will be showcased at the State Bar Annual Meeting, Sept. 15-18, in Long Beach.

Rules and entry blanks can be downloaded at or obtained by calling the art show coordinator at 415-538-2210.

All entries must be submitted by Aug. 17.

Fee arb trainings scheduled in Redding and Sacramento

Two training sessions for prospective and current volunteers who arbitrate attorney-client fee disputes through the State Bar’s fee arbitration program will be offered Aug. 18 in Redding and Aug. 25 in Sacramento. The free sessions offer 2.75 hours of MCLE credit, including an hour of legal ethics. Non-lawyers also are invited to attend.

The training will address writing an enforceable award, conflicts of interest and professional negligence, reasonable versus unconscionable fees, interest on fee refunds and avoiding the appearance of bias.

The Aug. 18 Redding training will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Redding Chamber of Commerce, 747 Auditorium Drive. The Sacramento training is scheduled for the same hours Aug. 25 at Kronick Moskovitz, 400 Capitol Mall, 27th floor.

To reserve a spot, contact Susan Carlson at  Questions (not RSVP) may be addressed to Doug Hull at 415-538-2015.

Take your career to the next level

The State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program will offer a four-week workshop, “Learn Key Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level,” designed for attorneys in the midst of a career transition or considering making a change. The first session will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles. 

Participants will identify their career interests/goals and create a game plan for the career they want, within a supportive community of other legal professionals. The program will be conducted by Susan Miller and Jean Brinko of California Career Services. 

The fee is $75 for all four sessions. For more information or to register, contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or  

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 page. Assistance is available at

Legal services board has one vacancy

A southern California legal services agency that serves both Orange County and east Los Angeles is looking for an attorney to fill a vacancy on its board. Applicants who practice in Orange County are preferred for the opening at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) and Community Legal Services in Southeast Los Angeles County.

The board of directors meets 10 to 12 times a year; the term for the vacant position is three years. The deadline for applications is Aug. 19.

Interested attorneys should submit a letter and resume, including work experience, community activity, educational background and bar number. The materials should be sent to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. Questions may be directed to 415- 538-2534 or

Free MCLE credit in substance abuse

The State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program will offer free MCLE presentations this fall that offer the required one hour of credit in Prevention, Detection & Treatment of Substance Abuse. Courses are scheduled Oct. 7 and Nov. 11 at the bar offices in Los Angeles, 1149 South Hill St., and Oct. 21 and Nov. 4 in the bar’s San Francisco office at 180 Howard St.

Register in advance. For more information or to register, contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or

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.

Bar Foundation is looking for board members and a new chief

The California Bar Foundation is seeking applications for several positions on its board of directors for terms beginning Jan. 1. In addition, executive director Leslie Hatamiya is stepping down at the end of the summer, and the foundation is recruiting her successor.

Attorneys, judges and members of the public who have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to the foundation’s charitable mission, who have previous board, public or community service, and/or who are knowledgeable about charitable fundraising are encouraged to apply for the board of directors. 

The California Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with the State Bar of California, dedicated to building a better justice system for all Californians. Through gifts from lawyers, law firms and other donors, the foundation distributes grants for law-related projects and scholarships for students pursuing public interest careers, and supports other educational programs. More information about the foundation is available at

Members of the board serve two-year terms and are expected to attend approximately five board meetings per year, participate on at least two committees and possibly attend other events. They also are expected to participate in fundraising and annually make a personally significant financial contribution to the foundation. 

The application deadline is Aug. 12. Applicants must submit a resume and statement of interest by mail, fax or email to: Leslie Hatamiya, Executive Director, California Bar Foundation, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105; 415-856-0788 (fax); Appointments will be made by the State Bar Board of Governors in November.

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.

Membership Benefits from CalBar Connect

As part of CalBar Connect, the State Bar’s member services and benefits initiative, CoreVault has introduced new secure Cloud Hosting services that allow 24/7 data access with built-in backup. Your firm’s data is stored off-site with 24/7 support by certified experts. Visit them or call 866-981-5949 for a customized cloud hosting solution to the maintenance and expense of physical services. Special member pricing is available.

UPS also offers special services and shipping discounts. State Bar members can save up to 26 percent on shipping. By enrolling now, the first 50 new enrollments will receive a prepaid Next Day Air letter. This promotion expires Aug. 31.

Visit CalBar Connect for information on other programs and discounts, including promotions from Hertz, Lenovo Computers and others.

The State Bar also offers a variety of insurance plans including Professional Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Insurance,  Group and Individual Disability plans, Life Insurance, AD&D, Auto, Home and Business Office Plans.

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 email their opt-out request to

Include your bar number.