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You Need to Know

Bar rules are now available in an e-Reader

To facilitate a lawyer’s ability to readily identify and address legal ethics issues, the State Bar has published an e-Reader version of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. The e-Reader version of the rule book is compatible with the Kindle Reader App, a free e-Reader application available for iPads, iPhones, Blackberry phones, Android phones, Macbooks and PC laptops. The book also works on all versions of’s Kindle.

For a limited time, the e‑Reader version of the rule book can be purchased at for $4.99, a quarter of the price of the hardcopy book. It offers several useful features including a search function, bookmarking, highlighting and annotating. In addition, once downloaded to a tablet, smart phone or other compatible device, the book can be accessed at any time, even without an Internet or cellular data signal.

The bar’s rule book has been published for more than 65 years. The 30-page edition published in 1949 has grown to 411 hard copy pages. In addition to the rules and State Bar Act, the book includes other related authorities such as selected Rules of Court, code sections, the Federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, the State Bar Pro Bono Resolution, the Lawyer Referral Service rules, MCLE rules and more.

New legal ethics and technology resource page is online

The general Ethics Information page at the State Bar website has added a new area dedicated to Ethics and Technology ― a collection of resources that address professional responsibility issues raised by the use of Internet websites, email, chat rooms and other technologies. The resources include advisory ethics opinions, articles and MCLE programs.

Most of the resources are internal links to other pages on the bar’s website and some are external links to local or specialty bar associations. The new page is organized both by the type of resource (ethics opinion, article, etc.) and by subject matter (law firm websites, electronic files, social networking, etc.).

The new service focuses on providing basic legal research leads on how the rules apply to new technologies rather than specific law office systems, hardware or software options. For the latter, the resources of the State Bar’s Law Practice Management & Technology Section can be considered.

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. Although early-bird registration expired last month, applicants still may register for the exam.

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 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. In addition, immigration and nationality standards have been updated to accommodate practice realities for business immigration lawyers.

State Bar co-sponsors federal judicial conference this month

The State Bar will co-sponsor the Court of Federal Claims annual judicial conference this month in Berkeley. The Oct. 18-19 program, at the Claremont Resort and Spa, will highlight many key areas of the court’s jurisdiction, including bid protests, government contracts, patents, Fifth Amendment takings and Indian law. In addition, more than a full day will address the court’s vaccine jurisdiction.

Speakers include Chief Judge Randall Rader of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Division.

Details are available at the court’s website.

Training proposals sought for statewide legal services conference

Legal services constituency groups who wish to submit a training proposal for use at the 2012 Pathways to Justice Conference must complete their submissions by Nov. 4. Although the conference planning group will consider all proposals, it has identified several high priority areas: delivery of legal services to diverse client communities; emerging issues; innovation in delivery of legal services (e.g. new technology, creative partnerships, etc.); effective pro bono programs; organizational infrastructure/management and practical skills-based trainings. The planning group may modify and/or consolidate proposals.

Scheduled for June 7-8 at Hastings law school in San Francisco, the conference will offer up to 10.5 hours of MCLE credit and is designed to address issues faced by legal services and pro bono providers, self-help centers, small claims advisors, lawyer referral services, law schools and others.

Complete details, including a request for proposal form, can be found at the State Bar website.

Take your career to the next level

The State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program will sponsor a free, three-hour presentation, “300 Things You Can Do With a Law Degree,” Oct. 20 at the Practising Law Institute in San Francisco. The presentation will be simulcast live by PLI and will be available in its online catalogue for a month. Visit for further information or to register.

Law corporations and LLPs must be registered

Law corporations are required to register with both the California Secretary of State and the State Bar of California under Corporations Code §13404. Registration requirements are set forth in Business & Professions Code §§6160 and 6161.

Rules and application materials are available on the State Bar website. Information required to register a law corporation includes:

  • Proof of registration with the Secretary of State;
  • Submission of bylaws and a sample share certificate containing the appropriate restrictions on share ownership;
  • A completed application that reports all the attorneys who are associated with the corporation;
  • Submission of the Guarantee for Claims in the appropriate amount; and
  • A Declaration of Compliance with Rule 1-400.

Limited Liability Partnerships providing legal services are also required to register with the State Bar. If not registered, attorneys should be particularly aware of California Corporations Code §16306(f), which specifically removes the protection from liability for claims based upon legal work.

Prior to registering with the Secretary of State, it is advisable to check with the State Bar to ensure that the entity name complies with rules and has not already been registered. Additional information is available at the Law Corporations page, LLP page, or the Law Office Management page. Assistance is available at

Legal services volunteer sought

Lawyers interested in serving on the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) and Community Legal Services in Southeast Los Angeles County are invited to submit an application to the State Bar. One three-year position is open. Applicants who currently practice in Orange County are preferred.

The application deadline is Nov. 1.

LASOC/CLS provides legal assistance to low-income residents of Orange and southeast Los Angeles counties. The board of directors meets 10-12 times a year in person, via teleconference, or via videoconference to make policy decisions governing the program’s operations.

Interested attorneys should submit a resume, outlining work experience, community activity and educational background with a letter listing the reasons they should be appointed. Bar number must be included. Materials should be sent to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. Information is available at 415-538-2534 or

Free substance abuse/emotional distress MCLE

The State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program will offer free MCLE presentations this fall that offer the required one hour of credit in Prevention, Detection & Treatment of Substance Abuse. Courses are scheduled Oct. 7 and Nov. 11 at the bar offices in Los Angeles, 1149 South Hill St., and Oct. 21 and Nov. 4 in the bar’s San Francisco office at 180 Howard St.

Register in advance. For more information or to register, contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or

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.

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.

Membership Benefits from CalBar Connect

CalBar Connect, part of the State Bar’s member services and benefits initiative, provides a wide variety of discounts and promotions. State Bar members can save up to 26 percent on UPS shipping; the first 50 members to sign up for the program will receive a prepaid next day air letter.

Other programs and discounts include promotions from Hertz and Lenovo Computers. The State Bar also offers a variety of insurance plans including Professional Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Group and Individual Disability plans, Life Insurance, AD&D, Auto, Home and Business Office Plans.

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 email their opt-out request to Include your bar number.