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Help for those who can’t afford a lawyer

Three broad-based resources are available to members of the public who may not be able to afford legal assistance but need access to the courts. The California courts online Self-Help Center — www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/ — offers a wide array of information, ranging from the basics of small claims to protection from abuse to help for families and children.

Since its creation three years ago, the site has averaged 3 million hits per month.

LawHelpCalifornia.org, a project of the Public Interest Clearinghouse funded primarily by the state’s Equal Access Fund, augments the information provided at the court site by giving low-income people the ability to connect with local low-cost or pro bono legal services for help with their claim. It also provides extensive information to targeted communities, such as seniors or Native Americans, about issues particular to those communities.

For those who do not meet the eligibility criteria for legal services organizations, the State Bar has activated a toll-free telephone information system to help clients find the nearest lawyer referral services. The toll-free number for callers in California is 1-866-442-2529. Callers outside the state may call 415-538-2250.

MCLE compliance — Group 3 is next

Attorneys whose last names begin with N-Z (Group 3) face a Feb. 1 MCLE compliance deadline. Lawyers in that group must complete 25 hours of continuing education courses, including four hours of legal ethics, one hour of elimination of bias and one hour of substance abuse prevention.

Twelve and a half hours may be self-study.

Compliance information is available at calbar.ca.gov>Attorney Resources>MCLE. You may now calculate and submit your compliance card through the My State Bar Profile feature on the Web site.

Earn one hour of elimination of bias credit

The State Bar Committee on Women in the Law will sponsor an elimination of gender bias workshop Sept. 13 entitled, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” The session offers one hour of MCLE credit and will be held at the University of LaVerne College of Law in Ontario from noon-1:30 p.m.

For information, contact the San Bernardino County Bar Association, 909-885-1986, or go to calbar.ca.gov/archive/calbar/pdfs/comcom/women-in-law/ 2004-CWIL-Sept04-flier.pdf.

Bar leaders’ conference scheduled for Oct. 7

The 2004 Bar Leaders’ Conference, designed for presidents and executive directors of bar associations, will be held Oct. 7, the first day of the State Bar Annual Meeting.

Attendees can meet State Bar President Tony Capozzi and members of the bar’s board of governors as well as network with colleagues. Marc Smiley, president of Organizational Development, will begin the day focusing on building an effective organization. The afternoon sessions will be conducted by communications experts, past presidents, executive staff and a representative from the ABA Division for Bar Services. Issues facing small associations without paid staff will receive particular attention.

The registration form and tentative program are available by contacting bar.relations@calbar.ca.gov or 213-765-1337 or 213-765-1329. The event is funded entirely by voluntary contributions.

Opt out of list sales

Attorneys who wish to remove their names from lists the State Bar sells to outside entities may do so by logging on to Member Login on the home page of the State Bar’s Web site. After registering with My State Bar Profile, go to “Account Information” and select “Update my mailing preferences (opt out).”

As an alternative, members may e-mail their opt out request to memrec@calbar.ca.gov. Include your bar number.

The bar has a policy under which members’ names are provided at cost to a restricted list of outside entities that meet certain criteria. The names are provided for a one-time use to, among others, MCLE providers, the Foundation of the State Bar, local bars and bar-approved insurance providers.

Toll-free number for consumer pamphlets

A new toll-free telephone number — 888-875-LAWS — has been created to help people obtain information about the State Bar’s consumer education guides and pamphlets, including ordering information.

The bar offers three guides — Kids & the Law: An A-Z Guide for Parents; When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers; and Seniors & the Law: A Guide for Maturing Californians — as well as 19 pamphlets that address questions such as divorce, how to find a lawyer and how to use the small claims courts. Some have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog or Korean.

Discovery abuses

In an effort to address problems faced by disabled attorneys, the State Bar Committee on Lawyers with Disabilities is seeking to document examples of failures to provide accommodations during the discovery process.

The committee is following up on the results of a survey of lawyers with disabilities and is working with various entities, including the Judicial Council Access and Fairness Advisory Committee.

Examples might include setting a deposition on the second floor of a building without an elevator or failing to provide real-time captioning for a hearing-impaired witness.

Information can be provided by e-mail to patricia.lee@calbar.ca.gov or by calling 415-538-2240.

Orange County court wins Achievement Award

The Orange County Superior Court was awarded the 2004 Justice Achievement Award for its innovative touch screen kiosk program designed to help self-represented litigants.

The Interactive Community Assistance Network (I-CAN!) program also offers a Web interface to help individuals without legal counsel access the courts. The program provides step-by-step instructions to properly complete legal forms.

The award was presented by the National Association for Court Management.

I-CAN! is in use in nine California counties and has been copied by other states. It is funded through federal, state and local grants.

Pledge program to help lawyers with disabilities

The State Bar’s Committee on Legal Professionals with Disabilities is seeking support from California law firms for a pledge program to offer opportunities to lawyers with disabilities.

More than 100 law firms throughout the state have signed up since the program began in 1996.

Firms are asked to provide a commitment to offer full and equal employment opportunities and reasonable accommodations for legal professionals with disabilities and chronic medical conditions.

Further information is available from Patricia Lee at 415-538-2240 or patricia.lee@calbar.ca.gov.

Remke reappointed to State Bar Court

The Senate Rules Committee reappointed JoAnn Remke to a six-year term on the State Bar Court. Remke first was appointed by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton in 2000 and she currently serves as supervising judge.

CYLA schedules job forum

California Young Lawyers Association, in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Career Resource Center, will host a job forum Oct. 23 at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica.

The day-long symposium — Suggestions for Defining your Careers: Making the Right Moves Today and Tomorrow — will feature individual resume consultations (on a first come-first served basis), plenary sessions about career advancement and networking opportunities with experts in the field.

Registration information is available at www.calbar.ca.gov/cyla.

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