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Expanding CaseloadRecession-related suits a drain on courts

It’s a vicious circle: Defendants seek community service because they can’t pay the fines of a traffic citation or a conviction. The courts lose revenue and have to compensate with overworked staff or reduced programs or delays – or further increases in fees and fines – as a result of decreased funding.

Five throw their hats in the presidential ring

For the first time in nine years, all five vice presidents of the State Bar Board of Governors said last month they will seek the bar presidency. The candidates are Paul Kramer Jr. of Sacramento, Bill Hebert of San Francisco, Patti White of San Jose, and Michael Marcus and Rex Heinke, both of Los Angeles.

JNE may have to change its ways

After coming under fire last year for the leak of a judicial candidate’s rating, the panel that evaluates nominees for the bench may have to change some of its ways. A committee of the State Bar Board of Governors recommended last month that a “not qualified” rating of a judicial candidate be made public if that person is named to the bench despite the rating. Such disclosure currently is discretionary.

Board okays rules on conflict of interest, buying a law firm

The State Bar Board of Governors last month conditionally adopted the final batch of new or amended Rules of Professional Conduct based on the ABA’s Model Rules, which include controversial measures related to conflicts of interest, purchase and sale of a legal practice and attorneys acting as advocates in nonadjudicative proceedings.

Board approves new boundaries for most bar districts

After struggling to provide California attorneys a more equitable voice in the State Bar, the board of governors voted last month to change the makeup of the organization’s nine districts in an admittedly inequitable way.

Tougher disciplinary standards proposed

Attorneys who do not participate in disciplinary proceedings against them could be subject to automatic disbarment under a proposal floated last month by the State Bar’s chief prosecutor. At the same time, the State Bar Court suggested a slightly different proposal that ultimately would hasten disbarment recommendations for lawyers who default.

Attorney Philip Kay suffers setback in federal appeals court

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit against the State Bar by high-profile San Francisco attorney Phillip Kay, whose recommended suspension is before the Supreme Court.

Twelve receive scholarships to help with bar exam expenses

Twelve graduating law students — including three former inner-city teachers, an immigrants’ rights activist and two single mothers who have overcome substantial obstacles to graduate from college and law school — were awarded scholarships last month to assist with the cost of taking the bar exam. The recipients were awarded the Rosenthal Bar Exam Scholarships by the California Bar Foundation.

How can the State Bar insurance committee help my practice?

Did you know that a group of experts in insurance law, appointed by the State Bar Board of Governors, selects and monitors insurance products to benefit bar members?

More than 228,000 lawyers can practice in California

Just over a third of the would-be lawyers who took the February bar exam passed, the Committee of Bar Examiners reported last month. If the 1,596 successful test takers — 37.1 percent — meet the other requirements for admission, they will boost the number of lawyers in California to more than 228,000.