Registration opens for legal specialist exam
Attorneys practicing in their specialty area of law since at least January 2016 who are interested in being certified as a specialist may now register for the next one-day legal specialist examination given on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.
Special pricing for registration will be offered this year. The examination registration fee is $100 if valid payment is received on or before May 1. The fee increases to $250 on May 2 and to $350 on Sept. 2. The laptop option can also be added this year at no charge, allowing test-takers to type essay answers. Registration closes on Oct. 2.
The exam is offered every other year and is open to attorneys who have practiced in one of 11 designated specialty areas since January 2016 and who are able to complete the experience, education and reference requirements by January 2021. The morning portion of the exam contains eight short essays, while the afternoon session contains 75 multiple-choice questions in the specialty.
The bar offers free preparation packets on its website to help attorneys gauge how much study is needed. For more information, see the California Board of Legal Specialization (CBLS) web page.
Apply for appointment to the Board of Trustees
Those interested in serving on the State Bar Board of Trustees may apply for appointment to a three-year term by the California Supreme Court. Two board positions will be filled through this process in 2017. The deadline to apply is March 17. More information is available online.
State Bar committees recruiting volunteers
Applications are being accepted for dozens of volunteer positions that are coming available next year through the State Bar.
The State Bar’s Board of Trustees appoints members to 10 standing committees, 16 section executive committees and 21 special committees, boards and commissions, along with five outside entities. More information about all of the 2017 appointments, as well as a link to the online application, is available on the appointments page of the State Bar's website.
Applications also are available by writing to the appointments office, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639, or by calling 415-538-2370.
Most of the volunteer positions carry a three-year term, and the application deadline for most appointments is Jan. 27. Applicants may apply to as many as three committees, but can be appointed to only one. The Board of Trustees will make the appointments next summer.
Legal ethics and technology resource page is online
The general Ethics Information page on the State Bar website has an area dedicated to attorney ethics – a collection of resources that address professional responsibility issues raised by the use of 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 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 resources focus 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, see the resources in the State Bar’s Law Practice Management & Technology Section.
Register a law corporation
Law corporations are required to register with both the California Secretary of State and the State Bar of California under Corporations Code Section 13404. Registration requirements are set forth in Business & Professions Code Sections 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
- 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 Section 16306(f), which specifically removes the protection from liability for claims based upon legal work.
Before registering with the Secretary of State, be sure to check with the State Bar to determine if 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. For questions or help, send an email to LLP@calbar.ca.gov.
Create a surrogacy agreement
A sample “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 would have the power to sell the practice.
The Lawyer Assistance Program can help
Attorneys struggling to cope with the stress of a challenging economic environment, a health issue 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 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 a free Orientation and Assessment (O&A) to any attorney who wants professional assistance to cope with personal or work problems, substance abuse, health or 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 LAP@calbar.ca.gov. All calls are confidential.
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