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You Need to Know

Want to volunteer for a bar committee?

The State Bar is recruiting applicants for approximately 200 positions on more than three dozen committees, boards and commissions. Groups with open positions range from committees dealing with access and fairness issues to section executive committees focused on particular areas of the law to a committee addressing questions of professional responsibility and conduct. Other groups review proposed changes in civil procedure and court rules, explore ways to improve access to civil justice and work with delivery of legal services to poor and middle-income individuals.

Most of the appointments carry a three-year term, and the application deadline for most is Feb. 1. Commit-tee terms begin Sept. 26, 2010.

The application form and more information are available at or request an application from the bar’s appointments office by calling 415-538-2318 or faxing 415-538-2255.

Judicial Council, ABA delegate openings

The State Bar is seeking applicants for positions on the ABA House of Delegates and the California Judicial Council.

Six positions will be open in the ABA House of Delegates when the terms of six current delegates expire in August. State Bar delegates serve two-year terms and may serve three consecutive terms. Eligible incumbents who have served less than three consecutive terms may apply for reappointment. Delegates must be an ABA member in good standing, and are required to pay their own travel expenses, attend the ABA midyear and annual meetings and participate in conference calls.

One position is open on the Judicial Council. Four lawyer members of the 27-member council are appointed by the State Bar. Members serve staggered three-year terms. The council meets six to seven times a year with an annual time commitment of about 300 hours.

The application deadline for the positions on both entities is Feb. 1.

Malpractice insurance disclosure required

Lawyers who do not carry malpractice insurance must tell their clients — under most circumstances — that they are not insured under Rule of Professional Conduct 3-410, which took effect Jan. 1. The new California rule requires that attorneys notify clients in writing if they do not carry professional liability insurance.

Notification must be made at the time a client hires the lawyer if it is “reasonably foreseeable” that the representation will exceed four hours. If the insurance coverage later lapses, the attorney must tell the client within 30 days of the time he or she is no longer insured.

The rule does not apply to government lawyers and in-house counsel nor to legal services provided in an emergency to avoid prejudice to a client’s rights or interest. It also does not apply if the lawyer previously informed the same client that he or she was not insured.

President’s pro bono awards criteria change

In order to broaden recognition for pro bono efforts by California lawyers and law students, the criteria for the State Bar’s annual pro bono awards have been updated.

The previous nine categories have been reduced to five: law firm (large, mid-sized, small), corporate or government legal department, law school and distinguished pro bono service. The fifth category for individuals includes solo practitioners, recently admitted, law firm attorney, government attorney, corporate counsel, limited active practice, law student and law school faculty.

Award recipients may include associations of California lawyers, California law schools accredited by the ABA or the State Bar and some law students, as well as the California offices of law firms.

The updated and revised nomination materials will be posted early this month at All nominations must be submitted electronically by March 1.