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Bar foundation awards 56 grants

Focusing on projects that champion access to justice, promote diversity in the legal profession and assist rural communities, the California Bar Foundation recently awarded 56 grants totaling $308,000 to organizations providing legal services and education across the state.

Forty-one projects seek to expand access to justice for populations that include seniors, immigrants, foster children and victims of domestic violence. Another 15 address legal needs in rural communities in such counties as Del Norte, Fresno, Lassen, Placer and Plumas.

In addition, the foundation is funding four “diversity pipeline” programs being carried out by the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness that will support efforts to introduce high school students in disadvantaged areas to the justice system, provide financial support for diverse law students selected for summer judicial externships and assist minority students to prepare for the bar exam. The foundation also is supporting a handful of programs that provide meaningful legal education and mentoring to improve diversity in the legal profession.

“A properly functioning justice system requires that all people, regardless of race, location or ability to pay, have access to the legal assistance they need,” said Scott Wylie, president of the foundation’s Board of Directors. “To help close the ‘justice gap,’ the foundation has made it a priority to support projects that increase the availability of legal services, particularly in rural communities where the need is especially acute, and that bolster the pipeline of diverse individuals entering the legal profession.”

Since the foundation began its grants program in 1991, it has distributed more than $3.8 million in grants for law-related access to justice, education and outreach projects to community organizations, legal aid agencies, courts, bar associations and the State Bar.

Petitions available for five seats on State Bar board

Nomination petitions for openings on the State Bar Board of Governors are available. Five seats are open in four bar districts: District 4, Marin and San Francisco counties; District 6, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; District 7, Los Angeles (two seats); and District 8, Orange County.

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. Lawyer members are elected for three-year terms and will assume office at the conclusion of the 2008 Annual Meeting.

The same districts also have openings for seats on the board of the California Young Lawyers Association.

Nominating petitions, at calbar.ca.gov, must be submitted by April 1.

Delinquent fee payments

California attorneys who did not pay their annual State Bar dues by the Feb. 1 statutory deadline will receive a letter next month warning that they face possible suspension from practice.

Active attorneys who missed the February deadline must pay a $100 late penalty fee; inactive lawyers who did not pay face a $30 late fee.

Those in MCLE compliance group 3 (last names N-Z) who did not complete compliance by Feb. 1 will have to pay a $75 late fee.

The bar will mail a final delinquent notice March 15. The board of governors will send to the Supreme Court in May the names of attorneys who do not pay their fees and suspension of those lawyers will take effect July 1.

Once suspended, lawyers will have to pay a reinstatement fee to regain their licenses.

Administrative suspensions are part of an attorney’s membership record, which is posted on the bar’s Web site. Such suspensions remain on the record for a minimum of seven years.

Legal services boards seek volunteers

Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) and California Indian Legal Services (CILS) are seeking volunteers to serve on their boards of directors.

LSNC has 10 openings on its board in the following region: Shasta (1), Mother Lode (1), Sacramento (3), Redwood (2), Solano (1) and Yolo (2) as well as two at large positions available to applicants who live in any of the counties served by the program.

LSNC provides legal assistance to low-income resident of 23 northern California counties. The 36-member board meets five times annually.

The term of office is three years and the application deadline is March 18.

CILS, which provides legal assistance to the rural poor, has one three-year position open, beginning Sept. 1. The application deadline is May 15.

Its 13-member board meets four times a year.

Applications should include a resume and be submitted to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105. Questions may be directed to 415-538-2534 or chris.zupanovich@calbar.ca.gov.

Include your bar number.

Legal services conference scheduled for June 5-7

The 2008 Pathways to Justice Conference, an annual statewide legal services gathering, will be held next year June 5-7 in Los Angeles. The conference will offer numerous practical MCLE trainings for legal services staff, board members and volunteers. It is co-sponsored by the State Bar’s Office of Legal Services and the Legal Aid Association of California.

Updated ‘18’ will be published in May

The State Bar’s popular When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers will be up-dated and published again this spring. Since producing the 2005 version of the guide, the bar has distributed 1.3 million copies in English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese.

The guide will be available May 1. To pre-order the revised version, e-mail 18@calbar.ca.gov. State the number of copies desired, the English or Spanish edition, and provide a full name and complete mailing address.

LA courts reach out to community with Web site

The Los Angeles Superior Court has launched a community outreach Web site to provide information about its programs and to tell community members how to participate in events with judges. According to Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger, the activities are designed to improve communications between the courts and those they serve.

Community members can contact the court with the click of a mouse. For example, any group seeking additional information or a speaker through the court’s Speakers Bureau may click on the link on the Web page and submit a request. In addition, school principals and teachers can learn more about opportunities for school and student involvement with judges and the courts.

The site is at www.lasuperiorcourt.org/OUTREACH.

Bar publishes revised consumer pamphlets

The State Bar has revised and reprinted four of its popular consumer education pamphlets and translated a fifth into Spanish.

The revised pamphlets are: Do I Need Estate Planning? Do I Need a Living Trust? What Should I Do if I Have an Auto Accident? and Can the Law Help Protect Me from Domestic Violence?

How Can I Resolve My Dispute Without a Trial? a pamphlet that explains the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, has been translated into Spanish.

To order the pamphlets, send an e-mail to pamphlets@calbar.ca.gov or visit the State Bar Web site, calbar.ca.gov and click on Consumer Pamphlets in the right-hand menu.

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.

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