Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on Linked In Share this by Email
California Bar Foundation
You Need to Know

Don’t miss the deadline for fee payment, MCLE compliance

Annual license fees for members of the State Bar are due Feb. 1. The fees are $430 for active attorneys and $155 for inactive attorneys.

Failure to pay fees by the deadline will trigger a $100 late payment penalty for active lawyers and a $30 penalty for inactive lawyers.

Those attorneys whose last names start with A-G (Group 1) also have a Feb. 1 deadline to report completion of their 25 hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). The late fee for missing that deadline is $75.

Fees can be paid and MCLE compliance can be reported online by logging on to My State Bar Profile. Please note: After Feb. 1, My State Bar Profile will be temporarily unavailable while late penalties are assessed.

The fee bill includes contributions to the Client Security Fund, disciplinary activities and the Lawyer Assistance Program. Fees are waived for inactive attorneys who have turned 70 years old by Feb. 1.

Lawyers also have the opportunity to donate to the Justice Gap Fund (recommended donation $100), the California Bar Foundation ($50 recommended donation), the ($35 recommended donation) and the California Supreme Court Historical Society ($25 donation recommended). In addition, they can deduct up to $40 that would otherwise go to legal aid, $5 designated for lobbying and $5 designated for the elimination of bias fund.

Active lawyers with qualifying income levels are eligible for a 25-percent reduction in the membership fee. To qualify, a lawyer must declare a total gross annual individual income from all sources of less than $40,000 in 2015.

Apply for appointment to the Board of Trustees

The California Supreme Court State Bar Trustees Nominating Committee is accepting applications through March 18 from those interested in serving a three-year term.

The Supreme Court appoints five people to the board and two of those seats will be vacant in 2016. The appointee will be sworn into office in October for a three-year term.

More information, along with the application form, is available online:

Vote in the Board of Trustees election by Feb. 29

Attorneys in Districts 1 and 3 have until the end of the month to vote in the Board of Trustees election. Seven attorney candidates are vying for two seats.

Ballots were mailed Dec. 31, and State Bar members have until Feb. 29 to cast their votes, either electronically or by mail. Votes will be counted in early March. Candidates are scheduled to serve three-year terms in both districts. All the new trustees will take their oaths in October at the State Bar Annual Meeting, which lasts from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2016.

The Board of Trustees meets approximately eight times a year to consider organizational, policy and regulatory matters. Visit the State Bar website for more information about the candidates, the election and the makeup of the board.

Sign up for April ethics symposium in San Francisco

The State Bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) will host the 20th Annual Statewide Ethics Symposium, a daylong legal ethics program on April 9 at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Those who attend will get five hours of MCLE credit for the symposium, which is co-sponsored by the law school’s Graduate Tax Program and the Center for Law and Ethics. It will be held at USF’s downtown campus at Howard and Main streets.

Registration information will be posted online in early March. For more information, contact Angela Marlaud at 415-538-2116 or

Find a certified/registered court interpreter

Under Government Code Section 68561 (with definitions in Section 68560.5), a deposition in a civil case filed in a court of record is a “court proceeding” and therefore an interpreter used shall be either: 1) a certified court interpreter for languages designated by the Judicial Council (see link for current languages: or 2) a registered court interpreter for languages not designated by the Judicial Council (all other languages). Attorneys can use the Judicial Council master list ( to search for certified and registered interpreters who are in good standing with the council.

Attorneys should also be aware that effective Jan. 1, 2015, California Government Code Section 68561 was amended to include section (h), which requires certain information that a certified or registered interpreter must state for the record in the deposition and the documentation regarding the interpreter’s qualifications that a certified or registered interpreter must present to both parties in a deposition.

Running for judicial office? Take this mandatory free course

California judges and lawyers seeking a judicial office must take an online judicial ethics course within 60 days of filing for office, creating a campaign committee or receiving a campaign contribution. The mandatory judicial ethics course went online in 2014.

The course was developed by a working group of justices, judges and lawyers after the Supreme Court adopted the mandatory rule, along with other changes to the California Code of Judicial Ethics, almost a year ago. The Rules of Professional Conduct require a lawyer candidate for judicial office to comply with the Code of Judicial Ethics. The rule came out of the work of the Commission for Impartial Courts.

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 information?
  • 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 staff 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 ethics questions.

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.

Use this form for fee disputes with clients

Attorneys who encounter a fee dispute with a client are reminded to use the State Bar’s version of the Notice of Client’s Right to Fee Arbitration form. The form has been approved by the State Bar Board of Trustees and contains the State Bar seal to ensure that lawyers are providing clients with the correct form.

Business and Professions Code Section 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.

Subscribe to the Daily News Digest

In between monthly issues of the Bar Journal, you can keep up with the major legal news of the day by visiting the new Daily News Digest on the Bar Journal’s home page. The State Bar’s Office of Communications scours the day’s news and culls top headlines of interest to legal professionals. You may also subscribe by visiting the Daily News Digest web page.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn

Stay informed by following @StateBarCA on Twitter and the State Bar of California page on LinkedIn. We’ll give you a heads up about important regulatory information and let you know about other happenings at the State Bar or within the legal community. If you’re seeking information relevant to your particular practice area, the State Bar’s voluntary sections and the California Young Lawyers Association also have a presence on social media through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Opt out of sharing certain information

As of Jan. 1, 2016, the State Bar of California is subject to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). For more information regarding the impact of CPRA on the bar’s obligation to release member information, please log on to My State Bar Profile.