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

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

State Bar co-sponsors federal judicial conference next month

The State Bar will co-sponsor the Court of Federal Claims annual judicial conference next 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. Early registration is available until Sept. 16.

Diversity Awards mark 10 years

Judge Vanella Johnson of San Diego, Hanson Bridgett LLP, For People of Color Inc. of Los Angeles, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley, and the Berkeley-based Center for Youth Development through Law are among the recipients of the State Bar’s diversity awards this year. The Diversity and Education Pipeline Awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting Sept. 18 by the Council on Access & Fairness.

Erwin Chemerinksy, dean of the UC Irvine law school, will deliver the keynote address and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will address the gathering. Special recognition will go to retired Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, former bar president Karen Nobumoto and former board of governors member Ruthe Ashley, who chairs the Pipeline Task Force.

To attend the reception, please send your RSVP to

Take your career to the next level

The State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program will offer a four-week workshop, “Learn Key Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level” designed for attorneys in the midst of a career transition or considering making a change. The first session will be held from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles Sept. 21.

Participants will identify their career passions/goals and create a game plan for the career they want, within a supportive community of other legal professionals. The program will be conducted by Susan Miller and Jean Brinko of California Career Services.

The fee is $90 for all four sessions. For more information or to register, contact Richard Carlton at 415-538-2355 or  

The LAP also 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

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 offers 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.

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. Bank of America Merchant Services offers all bar members access to a complete range of products and services for card processing needs, including point-of-sale payments, internet and telephone payments, gift cards, terminals and point-of-sale alternatives. Merchant services specialists are available for further details and a complimentary analysis of your current provider. Call toll-free 1-855-205-6714.

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.

Legal services volunteer sought

Lawyers interested in serving on the Board of Directors for 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