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Lawyers to be surveyed about member benefits

Randomly selected members of the State Bar will be asked to participate in a survey designed to determine attorneys’ feelings about member benefits, as well as to weigh opinions about allowing active out-of-state attorneys and all inactive attorneys to vote for and serve on the board of governors.

The survey, which will take place over the next few months, will target three areas: accessibility to and interest in existing member services; interest in new programs and value-added products, including an array of insurance products and other affinity programs; and support for allowing out-of-state active and all inactive members to vote for and serve on the board of governors. Other questions will deal with areas such as demographics, law practice and technology. The bar will seek a sample of about 650 lawyers.

Participants initially will be contacted by telephone, and have the option to participate by phone, the internet or by completing a mailed survey.

The survey is being undertaken at the request of the board of governors by the bar’s Division of Member Services, which is charged with oversight and management of certification programs, such as MCLE, other programs dealing with registration and competence compliance, and benefit programs including the Lawyer Assistance Program and bar-sponsored professional liability and group insurance programs.

The results will be reported to the board of governors early next year.

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

Wanted: Applicants for State Bar committees

The application for a 2006-07 appointment to a State Bar committee is available on the bar’s Web site. Select the left menu links to Attorney Resources and to Committees and Commissions.

The bar currently is recruiting applicants for 15 standing committees, 16 section executive committees and 13 special committees, boards and commissions.

Attorneys interested in volunteering to serve on a State Bar committee can also request an application from the Appointments Office, The State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639; 415-538-2318; 415-538-2255 (fax).

Hurricane relief efforts by and for attorneys

The State Bar Board of Governors authorized the bar to petition the California Supreme Court for permission to allow attorneys displaced by the recent gulf coast hurricanes to temporarily resume their practices in California for one year. The resolution is similar to ones passed in 15 other states.

The Foundation of the State Bar of California established the Courts and Families Hurricane Recovery Fund to help the court community in the affected states. Donations will be used to assist court personnel and their families to obtain food, clothing, shelter and medical care as well as to help restore the court systems in the devastated areas.

Tax deductible donations may be made to the Foundation of the State Bar and mailed by Dec. 2 to Hurricane Recovery Fund, Administrative Office of the Courts, 7th Floor, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102. Indicate “Hurricane Recovery Fund” on the face of the check. Information is available by calling Cathy D’Asaro at the AOC, 415-865-4273, or cathy.d’asaro@jud.ca.gov.

The American Bar Association is operating telephone hotlines for hurricane victims and established a Web site, abanet.org/katrina, to enable law firms to offer office space to displaced lawyers as well as to allow volunteers and victims to register. The ABA is asking for lawyers to staff its hotlines and to provide expert help to lawyers on site.

In addition, both the New Orleans and Louisiana State bar associations have issued pleas for help. More than 8,000 lawyers in the state, three-fourths in solo or small firm practices, were displaced by Katrina.

The New Orleans bar is seeking donations of money or equipment and supplies to help operate an Internet Cafe and space it has leased for lawyers to do business.

Tax deductible donations are most quickly received if sent via UPS or FedEx to the New Orleans Bar Foundation, 228 St. Charles Ave., Suite 1223, New Orleans, LA 70130-2612. Donations also may be made at neworleansbar.org. Call 504-525-7453 for details.

The Louisiana State Bar Association has established a relief fund to help lawyers resume their practice and to fund a hotline to assist with pro bono outreach. 

Donations may be sent to the LSBA/LBF Disaster Relief Fund at the Louisiana Bar Foundation, 601 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130-3404. Designate whether the donation is for legal community assistance or pro bono assistance. Further information may be found at LSBA.org.

Two discipline and admissions hearings set

The State Bar will hold two annual hearings on the attorney discipline and admissions process and attorney competence Nov. 21 in San Francisco and Nov. 30 in Los Angeles. The hearings provide an opportunity for members of the public and attorneys to make proposals or offer comments regarding the discipline and admissions processes or the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence.

The San Francisco hearing will be held at the State Bar offices at 180 Howard St., 4th floor; and the Los Angeles hearing will be at the bar’s offices at 1149 South Hill St., 7th floor. Both hearings begin at 10 a.m.

Individuals who wish to speak or present written materials should contact Doug Hull at 415-538-2015 or doug.hull@calbar.ca.gov by Nov. 16.

Avoid malpractice and get free MCLE credit

The State Bar Committee on Professional Liability will provide two free MCLE seminars aimed at educating attorneys about how to avoid malpractice claims next month. The four-hour course will be held Dec. 6 in Los Angeles and Dec. 7 in San Francisco.

Topics will include client intake and selection, conflicts of interest, independent contracting, ethical obligations of associates and law office technology. Anthony E. Davis, a leading national expert on the “law of lawyering,” will conduct the seminars, which offer four hours of MCLE credit in ethics.

Pre-registration is required to guarantee seating. The seminars are open to all attorneys on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested attorneys may register in advance at kvi-calbar.com or by calling 415-538-2201.

Got questions? Call the Member Services Center

The State Bar has opened a Member Services Center with 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.

Two openings on LAP oversight committee

Two openings are available for active attorneys interested in serving on the oversight committee of the State Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program. At least one of the vacancies will go to a lawyer who has been in recovery with at least five years of continuous sobriety. The appointments require approval by the bar’s board of governors.

The LAP seeks to identify and rehabilitate attorneys with impairment due to substance abuse or mental illness, so they may practice law without endangering the public. The 12 members of the oversight committee serve four-year terms and may be reappointed. The application deadline is Nov. 30 and the terms begin Jan. 1.

Applications are available online. For more information, contact Richard Carlton, LAP deputy director, at 415-538-2355.

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 going to Member Login on the bar's Web site. 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.

Fee arb training scheduled in Beverly Hills Nov. 17

Recent developments in fee arbitration will be discussed at a Nov. 17 training program in Beverly Hills, sponsored by the State Bar 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 Beverly Hills Bar Association members 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 Beverly Hills Bar Association, 300 South Beverly Dr. To reserve a space, contact Elaine Glass at 310-601-2442.

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

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