Board of Trustees seats open
Attorneys interested in seeking an elected seat on the State
Bar Board of Trustees have until April 1 to submit nominating
Three seats will be up for election – one each in Districts 2 (Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and
Ventura), 4 (Imperial, Inyo, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego)
and 6 (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz).
The winners of the District 2 and 6 elections will serve
three-year terms beginning on Sept. 13. The election in District 4 is a special
election being held to fill the seat of Christopher Todd, who resigned from the
board in January for personal reasons. The winner of that election will serve
the final year of Todd’s term, which expires in October 2015, and will be
eligible to run for re-election to one additional term.
Ballots will be mailed April 30 and voting will be completed
by June 30. As it has been doing in recent years, the State Bar will conduct a
hybrid election, offering voters the option of voting electronically or by
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. The newly
elected trustees will be sworn in at the conclusion of the 2014 Annual Meeting
someone for pro bono service award by March 17
The State Bar is accepting nominations for awards that
recognize attorneys who have a notable history of helping the poor, disabled or
March 17 is the deadline to apply to the President’s
Pro Bono Service Awards and the Loren
Miller Legal Services Award. The Pro Bono awards recognize individuals, new
attorneys, law students, law firms, government agencies, solo practitioners and
corporate lawyers with a history of exceptional work in the pro bono field. The
Loren Miller award is given to an attorney with a long-term commitment to legal
services who has done significant work for the poor.
The bar will accept previous nominations, but the
applications must be resubmitted with updated information for the year 2013.
For applications and information about the Pro Bono, Loren
Miller and other awards, see the awards section of the
State Bar website.
Diversity and Education
Attorneys, law firms, bar associations and others who promote diversity and
exemplary legal training can be nominated for the Diversity and Education
Pipeline Awards. Nomination forms and information about past winners are
available on the State Bar
website. For more information, contact Patricia
Lee at 415-538-2240 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Email or send completed forms by the March 31 deadline
to Patricia Lee, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.
New address in LA
The Los Angeles offices of the State Bar and State Bar Court
have moved. The new address is 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515.
The bar’s headquarters remains at 180 Howard St. in San Francisco.
Comment on proposed changes to the Code of Judicial
The California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code
of Judicial Ethics is inviting public comment on a proposal to amend canon 2C
of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The deadline is April 15.
Canon 2C prohibits judges from holding membership in any
organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex,
gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation. There are
currently exceptions in the canon for membership in religious, military, and
nonprofit youth organizations.
The committee proposes eliminating the exceptions for
military and nonprofit youth organizations. The committee proposes eliminating
the military organization exception because the U.S. military no longer
restricts military service by gay, lesbian, and bisexual personnel.
The committee also proposes eliminating the nonprofit youth
organization exception. California is the only state that prohibits membership
in organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation but has
an exception for nonprofit youth organizations. The committee concluded that
California’s status as the only state with such an exception, combined with
recent developments in the law relating to recognition of same-sex
relationships, is anomalous and inconsistent with other principles in the
canons. The exception pertains to organizations such as the Boy Scouts of
America, which recently announced its decision to permit openly gay boys to
participate as scouts until age 18, but to continue its bar against gay and
lesbian adults as troop leaders or in other leadership positions.
The invitation to comment is posted on the California
Courts website. Comments should be sent to Ms. Camilla Kieliger,
Administrative Office of the Courts, Legal Services Office, 455 Golden Gate
Avenue, San Francisco, Calif. 94102.
for a grant to provide civil legal services
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announces the availability of competitive
grant funds to provide civil legal services to eligible clients during calendar
year 2015. A Request for Proposals (RFP) and other information pertaining to
the LSC grants competition will be available on the LSC Grants website during the week
of April 7. In accordance with LSC’s multiyear funding policy, grants are
available for only specified service areas. To review the service areas for
which competitive grants are available by state, go to grants.lsc.gov/about-grants/where-we-fund and click on
the name of the state. A full list of all service areas in competition will
also be posted on that page. Applicants must file a Notice of Intent to Compete
(NIC) through the online application system in order to participate in the
competitive grants process. Complete instructions will be available in the
Request for Proposals Narrative Instruction. Please refer to grants.lsc.gov for filing dates and submission
requirements. Questions about the grants process may be emailed to Competition@lsc.gov.
law affects immigration attorneys
Attorneys and immigration consultants are prohibited from
collecting money for services related to federal immigration reform until
Congress acts under a State Bar-sponsored bill that went into effect last fall.
The consumer protection legislation, authored by
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, was introduced in response to
reports from law enforcement that the federal debate over immigration reform
was prompting scams aimed at undocumented immigrants.
The legislation, which went into effect upon Gov. Jerry
Brown’s signature Oct. 5, also:
- Requires attorneys and immigration consultants to account
for any money already accepted for immigration reform services and either
refund the money or deposit it in a client trust account.
- Requires attorneys to inform clients receiving immigration
reform act services where they can report complaints. A notice
for attorneys to use has been posted on the State Bar’s website and
has been translated into multiple languages.
- Increases the amount of bond that immigration consultants
must carry from $50,000 to $100,000 as of July 1, 2014.
- Prohibits the use of the term “notario,” which has been
misconstrued as someone who is qualified to give legal advice.
- Provides that a person who violates the ban on the use of
the term “notario” is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 a day for
judicial office? Take this mandatory free course
California judges and lawyers seeking a judicial office must
take a new 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 last month.
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 Supreme Court changed the rules to promote and enhance
public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and to
provide guidance on the ethical obligations and responsibilities of those running
for judicial office,” Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said.
The rule came out of the work of the Commission for Impartial Courts.
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
- 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 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
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.
form for fee disputes with clients
As of July 1, attorneys who encounter a fee dispute with a
client are required to use the State Bar’s updated version of the Notice
of Client’s Right to Fee Arbitration form.
The form, approved by the State Bar Board of Trustees on
March 7, incorporates a handful of changes, including clarifying who can
request fee arbitration and making it clear that more than one bar association
may have jurisdiction to hear a fee dispute. The new version also contains the
State Bar seal, a change made to ensure lawyers are providing clients with the
Business and Professions Code § 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.
voice heard in evaluating judges
The State Bar commission that evaluates the governor’s
candidates for judgeships is seeking the help of attorneys to solicit
For more than 30 years, the Commission on Judicial Nominees
Evaluation, commonly known as the JNE (“Jenny”) Commission, has gathered
information about candidates by mailing paper comment forms to attorneys.
During the past few years, the commission has successfully implemented the use
of email to gather comments, but continues to encounter one barrier: the spam
filter. Most of JNE’s emails do reach their intended recipients. However, some
Attorneys can solve this problem by authorizing the spam
filters serving their email address listed with the State Bar to accept the
following email address: email@example.com.
Those who work in legal offices, public agencies and the court system can help
by asking their IT specialists to authorize the JNE email address for all spam
filters serving office computers.
The electronic comment forms are identical to the written
forms. A hyperlink in the email takes the commenter to a website where a form
identical to the written comment form can be completed electronically. The
electronic comments are maintained confidentially, with access only by
investigating commissioners and staff. The use of email appears to result in
response rates at least as high as the use of written forms. It has proven to
be a cost-effective and efficient method of transmitting time-sensitive,
Questions and comments about the process can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
book available for 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 Amazon.com’s
The 2013 edition of the e-Reader version of the rule book
can be purchased at Amazon.com for $6.99, a significant discount from 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.
ethics and technology resource page is online
The general Ethics
Information page on the State Bar website has an area dedicated to Ethics
and Technology ― 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 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.
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
- 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
Prior to 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
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
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 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 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 LAP@calbar.ca.gov.
All calls are confidential.
benefits from CalBar Connect
State Bar members can save up to 25 percent every time they
rent with Hertz, a participant in CalBar Connect, the State Bar’s member
services and benefits initiative. Visit the Hertz
page for details.
CalBar Connect, which provides discounts to all State Bar
members, also offers a variety of insurance plans including professional
liability insurance, workers’
compensation insurance, group
and individual disability plans, life
insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), auto, home and business
Leverage the law
through a State Bar section membership
Join other leading
attorneys and legal professionals who are passionate
about their practices. Each State Bar section provides its members with
valuable tools including e-newsletters, publications and more. Highly regarded
as a premier provider of legal education, the 16 sections deliver specialized
training and practical programs including symposiums, one-day seminars and
multi-day conferences, on-line seminars, self-study curriculum as well as
updates on trends and changes in the law. Visit our online catalog, which contains more than 1,000 individual seminars.
can also figure heavily when initiating or advocating legislation and
regulations. Plus, most of the sections participate in major public education
efforts and community service activities, such as consumer radio shows and
booklets that explain legal rights. Your minimal annual membership helps to
fund all these essential programs and services. What’s more, your membership is
a tax-deductible investment.
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).”