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Tell us what you want: take the online survey

Members of the State Bar are invited to take an online survey designed to determine the kinds of benefits lawyers might be interested in obtaining from the bar. The survey is online at talkingpolls.com/go/bar.

Mailed invitations to take the survey were sent to a random sampling of lawyers in an effort to receive responses from about 700 attorneys. In addition, any bar member may also take the survey. The results will be tabulated separately and reported to the board of governors next month.

The board directed the bar to expand the range of benefits and services available to members, and the bar has been approached by several private sector interests that want to partner with it to provide such benefits. Revenue generated by the benefits and services could support two existing programs and possibly forestall future dues increases.

The survey focuses on familiarity with existing benefits and interest in new programs and value-added products. It also asks for respondents’ opinions on allowing out-of-state active and all inactive lawyers to run as candidates and vote for members of the board of governors. Additional questions seek demographic information.

Some of the benefits under consideration include health savings accounts, dental and vision insurance, discounts on home loans, office supplies and cell phones, and discounted services for solo and small firm practitioners, such as payroll and accounting services, secretarial or paralegal support and computer consulting and technical support.

The survey is being conducted by Hertz Research of Petaluma.

Dues deadline is Feb. 1

Active and inactive California lawyers face a Feb. 1 deadline for payment of their annual State Bar membership fee. Active attorneys must pay $395 and inactive lawyers owe $115.

Fee statements, mailed in November, should be read carefully because they contain several statutorily required changes. In particular, the ability to scale fees is now limited to low-income attorneys, and lawyers and retired judges who work as ADR neutrals must pay the full fee charged to active members.

As in previous years, lawyers have the option of contributing to the Foundation of the State Bar of California, the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations and the California Supreme Court Historical Society. Active attorneys may deduct $5 from the dues bill for the bar’s lobbying efforts in Sacramento and $5 for the elimination of bias and bar relations outreach fund.

The dues are authorized by the state legislature and set by the State Bar Board of Governors.

Details about the fee statement are available at calbar.ca.gov/feestatement or by calling the Member Services Center at 1-888-800-3400.

MCLE compliance — Group 2 is next

About 40,000 active attorneys in MCLE compliance group 2 (last names H-M) must complete 25 hours of continuing legal education by Feb. 1. Four hours must address ethics, one must be completed in substance abuse and one in elimination of bias. Half the hours may be self-study.

Attorneys in that group received a compliance card in the annual fee statement mailed in November, and can report compliance by filling out and returning the card with their bar dues. They also can report compliance online through the My State Bar Profile feature on the State Bar’s Web site, calbar.ca.gov. 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.

Judicial Council, ABA House need volunteers

The State Bar is seeking applicants for two positions on the Judicial Council and for six appointments to the ABA House of Dele-gates. The deadline for applications is Feb. 1.

The Judicial Council appointments begin Sept. 15, 2006, and expire Sept. 14, 2009. Meetings are held six to seven times a year with an annual time commitment of about 300 hours. Members are reimbursed for approved travel.

In 2006, the terms of six State Bar delegates to the ABA House of Delegates expire. The new appointees will serve two-year terms from August 2006 to August 2007.

State Bar delegates must be ABA members and must pay their own travel expenses and attend ABA midyear and annual meetings as well as participate in conference calls.

Applications must be submitted to the bar’s Appointments Office, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639, or by fax, 415-538-2255. Further information is available at the State Bar Web site, calbar.ca.gov. Select  links to Committees and Commissions and to Other Entity Appointments. Applicants also may contact the appointments office at 415-538-2299.

SEI, LAP dinner this month

The first annual “Saving Careers, Saving Lives” dinner, honoring State Bar President Jim Heiting, will be held at the Section Education Institute (SEI) Jan. 28 in Santa Monica. Proceeds from the event will benefit the scholarship fund of the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), which helps attorneys with addiction or mental health issues.

Tickets are available online at calbar.ca.gov/lap, by e-mail to lap@calbar.ca.gov, or by phone at 415-538-2355. In addition, checks, payable to the Foundation of the State Bar of California, may be sent to Richard Carlton, Lawyer Assistance Program, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105.

One ticket is $150, two are $280, and a table of eight is $1,100.

The three-day Section Education Institute (Jan. 27-29) offers lawyers a low-cost opportunity to earn up to 16 hours of MCLE credit in one weekend. Programs address substantive legal issues and fundamental approaches to the practice of law. Credit in ethics, substance abuse and elimination of bias also is available.

Full details are at calbar.ca.gov.

Visit legal London and earn MCLE credits

The State Bar Litigation Section will sponsor “A Week in Legal London” next July, offering an opportunity to experience the inner workings of the English legal system, expand litigation skills and meet with members of the London legal community. Participants will attend sessions at the Royal Courts of Justice, Old Bailey and the High Court of Justice and attend luncheons at historic Inns of Court generally reserved for members of the British legal community.

The registration fee is $2,295 per person, and includes daily luncheons, two receptions, a formal closing dinner at historic Trinity House, and the education programs and materials. Accommodations are available for an additional fee at the Radisson Edwardian Hampshire Hotel. The program is scheduled for July 9-14.

As an adjunct to the London program, the Litigation Section also will offer an “Oxford University Summer Program” from July 16-20. The registration fee of $1,295 per person includes four nights lodging at Magdalen College in Oxford, all meals, education programs and materials.

Although the programs are independent, attendance at both will fulfill all 25 required MCLE hours. Participants may attend either or both programs.

More information is available at calbar.ca.gov/litigation or by calling 415-538-2546.

Wanted: Applicants for State Bar committees

The application for a 2006-07 appointment to a State Bar committee is available at the bar’s Web site, calbar.ca.gov. Select the left menu link to Attorney Resources and then 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, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639; 415-538-2318; 415-538-2255 (fax).

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.

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.

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