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You Need to Know

Five board of governors seats open

Attorneys interested in seeking a seat on the State Bar Board of Governors may access nominating petitions Feb. 1. Five seats will be up for election — 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.

Nominating petitions must be submitted by April 1, ballots will be mailed May 2 and voting will 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.

Penalties for non-payment of dues attach February 2

State Bar fee payments for 2011 were due Feb. 1 and late penalties attach Feb. 2 to fees not received by the statutory deadline. In addition, the deadline for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) compliance for attorneys whose last names begin N - Z was Feb. 1.

Active lawyers who have not paid their dues by Feb. 1 will be assessed a $100 late penalty and inactive lawyers under 70 will be penalized $30. Non-compliance with MCLE requirements will result in a $75 penalty.

Lawyers who have not paid their fees will receive a final delinquent notice in mid-March, and face suspension by the Supreme Court if the fees remain unpaid June 30.

Dues can be paid online through My State Bar Profile. (Online dues payment will not be available for the first three weeks of February.) MCLE compliance also can be reported online through My State Bar Profile.

Information about bar dues and MCLE compliance is available by e-mailing or by calling the Member Services Center at 1-888-800-3400.

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.

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.

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 as a webcast; at least one will be free. 

Registration information will be available later this month. Questions may be addressed to Lauren McCurdy at 415-538-2107 or

Nominations sought for legal services awards

The State Bar is seeking nominations for two awards that recognize extraordinary service to California’s poor — the President’s Pro Bono Awards and the Loren Miller Legal Services Award. 

The Loren Miller Legal Services Award, the bar’s highest honor, recognizes a lifetime commitment to legal services and extending legal services to the poor. Individuals who were nominated in past years, but did not receive the award, can be nominated again.

Lawyers and law students who performed extraordinary pro bono service during 2010 are eligible for the 2011 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards. Up to nine awards may be given each year from a pool of nominees who include attorneys, California law firms or the California offices of national and international law firms, associations of California lawyers, law schools accredited by the ABA or the State Bar, and law students (provided the student did not receive compensation or academic credit for the work).

Nomination and award guidelines for both awards are available on the State Bar’s website. The nomination deadline is March 15. Questions may be addressed to Lynn Martinez at or 213-235-2630, or the Sharon Ngim at or 415-538-2267.

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.

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

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.

CalBar Connect: Your membership benefits program

CalBar Connect, part of the bar’s member services and benefits initiative, provides discounts to all State Bar members. Visit CalBar Connect for information on programs and discounts including promotions from Hertz and Lenovo Computers and others.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by taking advantage of a 20 percent discount on flowers and gifts offered by From You Flowers. The online florist, named CNBC’s “Best Overall Quality and Price” floral delivery service in 2010, recently added more than 1,000 new arrangements and gifts.  

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 e-mail their opt-out request to

Include your bar number.