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Feb. 1 MCLE deadline for Group 2 (last names H-M)

Active attorneys whose last names begin with the letters H through M face a Feb. 1 deadline for MCLE compliance. Lawyers in that group must complete 25 hours of continuing legal education; 12.5 hours may be self-study.

Four hours must address ethics, one must be completed in substance abuse and one in elimination of bias.

Attorneys can report their compliance online through the My State Bar Profile feature on the State Bar’s Web site. MCLE tests, including those in the special categories, also are available online. See pages 12 and 14 (in the California Bar Journal) to complete the one-hour requirement in prevention of substance abuse, and last month, pages 10 and 12 to complete the one-hour requirement in elimination of bias.

Complete information about the requirements is available at the site by clicking on Attorney Resources and then MCLE.

Got questions? Call the Member Services Center

When the State Bar began to rebuild after a virtual shutdown of operations in 1998, its board of governors took a hard look at how the organization relates to its members. As a result, it designated services for members as the bar’s number two goal — behind public protection.

Last month, an official Member Services Center opened a toll-free number, 1-888-800-3400, for active and inactive lawyers seeking information about member benefits, services and regulatory compliance. Three full-time staffers man the phones during business hours and promise either a quick answer or referral.

The effort is part of a consolidation of separate bar service operations that focuses on member benefits and services with ease of access to information.

No legal assistance or advice is offered.

The bar also will soon offer three new insurance products to members, including judges: life and AD&D, homeowners and automobile coverage.

A new broker also is developing competitively priced life insurance and AD&D programs for lawyers and their families that are expected to be better than those offered in the general marketplace. In addition, the board of governors has given the go-ahead to negotiate an agreement with Liberty Mutual as a provider of personal lines of insurance, home and auto.

Disability and long term care insurance offered

According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the average private room in a nursing home cost more than $66,000 a year in 2003. Twenty-four hour care can cost much more. If inflation occurs at a 5 percent annual rate, that cost could grow to as much as $175,000 annually 20 years from now.

Despite those staggering costs, fewer than 10 percent of American adults are covered by long term care insurance policies.

The State Bar-endorsed long term care insurance program provides members and their families with comprehensive coverage at specially discounted rates. Plans are underwritten by John Hancock Life and MetLife and cover care whether provided in a facility or at home. Both reimbursement and cash benefit plans are available. Continuous pay and short pay plans also are offered.

The program offers the option to purchase a plan that qualifies for the California Partnership for Long Term Care, which provides asset protection when applying for Medi-Cal as well as other advantages.

Information about the program is available in northern California at 800-548-2671 and in southern California at 800-653-8003 or online at calbar.ca.gov > Member Services > Member Benefits > Insurance Programs.

The bar also endorses insurance programs for life, accidental death and dismemberment, Disability Income and Business Overhead Expense Insurance, professional liability and a business office package. Visit the Web site listed above or e-mail insurance@calbar.ca.gov.

Fee arb training scheduled in Santa Rosa Sept. 15

Recent developments in fee arbitration will be discussed at a Sept. 15 training program in Santa Rosa, sponsored by the State Bar’s Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration. The free training offers 2.75 hours of MCLE credit, including one hour of legal ethics and 1.75 hours of general credit, and is open to Sonoma County fee arbitrators and lay people and lawyers interested in joining the program.

Among the topics for discussion are how to write an enforceable award, conflicts of interest, disclosure requirements and how to control the proceeding.

The training will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Sonoma County Bar Association, 37 Old Courthouse Square. To reserve a space, contact Patti Tate at 707-542-1190, ext. 19.

For additional information, call Jill Sperber, 415-538-2023.

Bar foundation offers student loan consolidation

Members of the State Bar and their families with eligible educational loans can now consolidate those loans with the Student Loan Consolidation Program from eGrad, a corporate sponsor of the Foundation of the State Bar of California. Through the program, members may be able to lock in at a fixed interest rate as low as 1.625 percent and reduce monthly loan payments by as much as 58 percent.

Participants can also:

  • Simplify loan payments by making one monthly payment;
  • Choose from a variety of flexible repayment options;
  • Avoid application fees, credit checks or prepayment penalties.

A dedicated customer information line — 1-800-958-6085 — has been established for State Bar members and their families. Information also is online at http://foundationstatebarcal.org/studentloans.

Sample fee agreements

Three new sample written fee agreement forms are available online at no charge. Prompted by major changes in the law involving such matters as fee sharing between counsel, attorney fee liens and arbitration agreements, the forms were revised by the State Bar Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration.

The new forms cover litigation on an hourly basis, non-litigation on an hourly basis and contingency fee agreements.

The forms can be found at calbar.ca.gov > Attorney Resources > Sample Written Fee Agreement Forms.

Opt out of list sales

Attorneys who wish to remove their names from lists the State Bar provides to qualified outside entities may do so by logging on to Member Login at calbar.ca.gov. After registering with My State Bar Profile, go to “Account Information” and select “Update my mailing preferences (opt out).”

Members also 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.

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