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

Five board of governors seats open

Nominating petitions for five open seats on the State Bar Board of Governors must be submitted by April 1. The upcoming vacancies are — 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.

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.

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 privilege;

  • 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.

Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the new UC Irvine law school, will deliver the keynote address. 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 April 9 as a webcast offering 1.5 hours of participatory MCLE credit. At least one of the videotaped panels, and perhaps more, will be offered later free of charge at the State Bar’s online MCLE store.

The pre-registration deadline is April 1. Questions may be addressed to Lauren McCurdy at 415-538-2107 or

March 15 nomination deadline 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 Service 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 to Sharon Ngim at or 415-538-2267.

Nominations sought for diversity
and education pipeline awards

The State Bar is seeking nominations for its 2011 Diversity Awards, honoring bar associations and lawyers who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to encouraging diversity in the legal profession. Awards will be given in three categories: law firms, bar associations and individual lawyers. The awards for bar associations and individuals were created in 2001 and law firms were added in 2007.

Nominations for the 2011 Education Pipeline Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts of law-related educational programs that encourage students to become interested in legal careers also are being solicited. All California educational programs that increase student awareness of the judicial system — from kindergarten through college — are eligible.

Nominations for both awards are due March 31. The awards will be presented at the bar’s Annual Meeting in September.

Penalties for non-payment of dues attached February 2

Lawyers who did not pay their State Bar dues will receive a final delinquent notice in mid-March, and face suspension by the Supreme Court if the fees remain unpaid June 30. Fee payments for 2011 were due Feb. 1 and late penalties attached Feb. 2 to fees not received by the statutory deadline. In addition, Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) compliance for attorneys whose last names begin N - Z was due Feb. 1.

Active lawyers who did not pay their dues by Feb. 1 were assessed a $100 late penalty and inactive lawyers were penalized $30. Non-compliance with MCLE requirements resulted in a $75 penalty.

Most lawyers can pay their dues online through My State Bar Profile. MCLE compliance also can be reported online through My State Bar Profile.

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

LSNC needs volunteers for its board

The State Bar is seeking applications from attorneys interested in serving a three-year term on the board of directors for Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) for five vacant positions. Applicants must practice or reside in the county or region where the vacancy has occurred. The current vacancies are in the Butte, Mother Lode-El Dorado, Sacramento and Shasta regions.

The application deadline is April 15.

LSNC is a nonprofit Legal Services Corporation-funded program created to provide legal assistance to low-income residents of 23 northern California counties. The 36-member board meets five times a year to make policy decisions governing the program’s operations.

Applicants should send a letter with their bar number and a résumé outlining work experience, community activity and educational background to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. Questions may be directed to or by calling 415-538-2534.

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.

Legal specialist exam set for October 

The certified legal specialist exam will be given October 25 in Pasadena and Oakland. Attorneys with three or more years of experience may sit for the exam in one of 13 areas of law: admiralty and maritime; appellate, civil; appellate, criminal; bankruptcy; criminal law, state; criminal law, federal; estate planning, trust and probate; family; franchise and distribution; immigration and nationality; legal malpractice; taxation; and workers’ compensation. 

Certification is a two-step process. In addition to passing the exam, specialists must demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field, practice in the specialty for five years (though they can take the test at three years), fulfill ongoing education requirements, and be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with their work. 

Attorneys will have at least 18 months after passing the exam to complete these requirements, but they can begin tracking requirements for this portion of the process from their first day in practice using sample applications located on the website under each area of law.

The registration deadline for the exam is Sept. 26. The exam, given every other year, consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and eight short essays. For a limited time, new specialties in admiralty and legal malpractice have an alternate route to certification, replacing the exam with additional requirements. 

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.

Lawyer commissioners must be members of the bar in good standing, with a preference for those in practice 10 years or more. Consideration is given to lawyers with substantial litigation, trial and/or appellate experience. The commission also may include one or more former members of the judiciary; those with appellate backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The time commitment is at least 35-40 hours each month or approximately 55 working days per year.

JNE 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. Rates on the State Bar-sponsored Workers’ Compensation program have been reduced. In addition to the 10 percent member premium discount available through CalBar Connect, The Hartford has reduced rates by another 7.9 percent, effective April 1. Receive a premium indication today to determine your level of savings through the program underwritten by The Hartford (rated “A+” by AM Best).

The bar also offers a variety of other insurance plans and discounts on goods and services like T-mobile Cellular, Hertz Rental Cars and Lenovo Computers.

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.