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You Need to Know

Earn MCLE online

More than 80 one-hour continuing education courses will be available throughout January through the State Bar 2011 Cyber Institute. Attorneys in MCLE compliance group 3 (last names N-Z) face a Feb. 1 deadline for completing 25 hours of continuing education.

Fee arb training scheduled in Alameda County

A free training session for prospective and current volunteer attorneys who arbitrate attorney-client fee disputes for mandatory fee arbitration programs will be held in Oakland Jan. 27. The training offers 2.75 hours of MCLE credit, including one hour of legal ethics.

Non-lawyers interested in becoming arbitrators also are encouraged to attend.

Speakers will address recent developments in fee arbitration, as well as how to write an enforceable award, requirements for fee agreements, controlling the proceeding and arbitrator disclosure requirements.

The training will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the Alameda County Bar Association, 70 Washington St., Oakland. To reserve a space, call Kalie Moore at 510-302-2210 or e-mail

For additional information (not RSVP), call 415-538-2020.

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.

Judicial Council seeks comment on child support forms

The Judicial Council is seeking public comment on proposed new forms used in child support orders. SB 1355 requires that after July 1, 2011, every child support order being enforced by a local child support agency include information about the effect of incarceration or involuntary institutionalization on such orders. Additional changes to eight other forms also are proposed.

Complete details and instructions for submitting comments are at Child Support: Revised Forms to Implement Changes to the Family Code and Improve Administration of Title IV-D Cases. The deadline for comments is Jan. 24.

Information about 2010 membership fees is on the web

Members may find the State Bar’s most recently audited Statement of Expenditures of Mandatory Membership Fees for 2009 on the State Bar’s website. This statement shows how State Bar membership fees are spent.

In addition, there is an explanation about the deductions to membership fees and the procedures for arbitration under Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990).

A copy may also be obtained by writing to: Office of the Secretary, The State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco 94105.

Beef up your online profile

Sept. 1 marked the start of a new “Find Legal Help” feature on the State Bar website that allows the public to get more information about California attorneys that may aid in their decision to hire a particular lawyer. Attorneys are invited to add a photo and such information to their public record as area(s) of practice, additional language(s) spoken and law firm website address. 

By mid-December, nearly 2,300 attorneys had added information on their State Bar page through My State Bar Profile. Bar officials hope that other California attorneys will be encouraged to voluntarily update their profiles knowing that the public now has access to the additional information.

Besides the current search by attorney name and bar number (in the regular search) and by location (in the advanced search), the new feature will allow for searches based on languages spoken. A random list of up to 500 attorneys will be available based on the search criteria. Although the area of practice may be included on the website, the board of governors decided not to include it as a searchable feature by the public.

Other information currently visible to the public includes contact information, date admitted to the State Bar, undergraduate and law schools attended, disciplinary record, if any, sections membership and other bar administrative information.

JNE review committee needs a volunteer

The State Bar Board of Governors is recruiting one “at large” member to serve on the review committee of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission. The five-member review committee evaluates requests for reconsideration of the JNE Commission rating of potential judges as “not qualified.”

Committee members must have attorney or other legal-related experience, knowledge of the judiciary, strong analytical skills and an ability to assess confidential information in a thorough and objective manner. An appellate background is desired.

The committee evaluates information pertaining to the investigation of the candidate and focuses on possible violations of rules or procedure. RJNE meetings are conducted by conference call and typically last between 30 and 60 minutes. They may be held as often four or five times a year.

Interested volunteers should complete an application by Feb. 1.

Updated Kids guide is now available

The State Bar’s popular Kids & the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents has been updated and published and is available free to children and their parents. Produced by the bar’s Media & Information Services office, Kids & the Law provides parents with information about laws affecting their children, their relationship with their children and important resources about drugs, driving, drinking and other issues facing all families.

The revised guide includes information on recent laws making it illegal to smoke in a car if any of the occupants are under 18 (California is only the third state to enact such a law) and banning the sale of nitrous oxide to anyone under 18. It also includes new information and developments dealing with sexting and cyberbullying, as well as a law affecting young people’s patronage of tanning salons.

The guide is paid in part by a $65,000 dedicated fund from the California Bar Foundation.

The guide was first produced in 2001 and again in 2004 and 2007; together the bar has distributed more than 3 million copies free of charge.

To order copies of Kids & the Law, e-mail and state the number desired (i.e., 100 copies, 200 copies), and provide a full name, complete mailing address (no P.O. boxes, please) and phone number.

The guide is free and may be ordered in bulk at no charge. For especially large orders, a contribution to defray shipping costs is always appreciated.

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.

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 FromYouFlowers, Hertz and Lenovo Computers.

State Bar members also can review insurance programs selected and administered by the Committee on Group Insurance Programs and the Committee on Professional Liability Insurance. These programs include Group and Individual Disability Plans. Plans can include coverage for business expenses in the event of a disability and group plans can cover your practices employees. In addition, the State Bar offers Professional Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Life, AD&D, Auto, Home and Business Office Plans.

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 seat 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.

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.