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California Bar Foundation
You Need to Know

Volunteer as a special deputy trial counsel

The State Bar seeks active members of the bar interested in volunteering as a special deputy trial counsel (SDTC) for the discipline system. An SDTC is required to be appointed under the State Bar’s Rule 2201(i) of the Rules of Procedure when the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel has a conflict with an inquiry or complaint about an attorney. Under the rule, the chair of the Board of Trustees Committee on Regulation, Admission and Discipline appoints an SDTC to conduct a preliminary review to determine if further inquiry or action is warranted. If the review determines that the factual allegations are sufficiently specific, the inquiry is from a credible source and the factual allegations, if proven, may result in discipline, the SDTC investigates and conducts proceedings as necessary or appropriate to process the complaint. Those interested in serving as an SDTC can email Assistant General Counsel Destie Overpeck at

Apply to evaluate future judges

The State Bar seeks active members of the bar, former members of the judiciary and members of the public who are interested in volunteering to serve on the 2017 Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE). In addition, former JNE Commission members are sought to fill a three-year term on the Review Committee (RJNE), which reconsiders “not qualified” ratings by the JNE commission. The application deadline for both is May 6. The application form and information on the commission are available from the State Bar’s website or from the State Bar's Appointments Office, 415-538-2370,

State Bar volunteer application deadlines extended

If you are interested in participating on a State Bar committee or commission or in leading a practice area section, it’s time to apply. Please access the State Bar’s applications page for details on the volunteer positions for which application deadlines have been extended.

Chief justice accepting award nominations

The Judicial Council of California is accepting nominations through May 16 to recognize extraordinary dedication, outstanding leadership and significant contributions to advancing the council’s strategic goals for the judicial branch. More information is on the California Courts website.

Register for the Solo and Small Firm Summit

The State Bar of California will hold its annual Solo and Small Firm Summit June 16 to 18 in Newport Beach.

Billed as “not your ordinary weekend CLE program!” the summit offers solo and small firm practitioners and office staff an opportunity to network and develop workable strategies to manage their offices, build a client referral network and stay on top of key developments in various substantive areas of law. For more information or to register, visit the event web page at

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. Go to “account information” and select “update my mailing preferences (opt out).”

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 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 provide 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.