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E-mail address will be required starting Feb. 1

All California attorneys must provide an e-mail address to the State Bar beginning Feb. 1, 2010, under a new rule of court approved by the Supreme Court. Inactive lawyers over 70 are exempt from the new requirement.

Under Rule 9.7, all members of the State Bar must create an online profile through the bar’s secure membership system. Currently, 150,000 lawyers already have done so and they need do nothing further.

But on Feb. 1, attorneys who move will be able to change their address and phone number only through My State Bar Profile. Online address change capability has been available for several years and is widely used. In 2008, 58,000 address changes were processed, 40,000 online.

Lawyers are statutorily required to keep their addresses updated within 30 days of a move.

The private e-mails will be recorded in the bar’s database and will be used only for official communications, such as courtesy reminders related to deadlines and updates of new regulations that affect members. Attorneys also will have the option to provide a public e-mail address, which will be available to the public on the bar’s Web site.

Notification of disciplinary or regulatory proceedings that may lead to a loss of license will continue to be sent through regular mail.

In addition to the 150,000 private e-mails the bar now has, another 30,000 lawyers have provided a public address. About 40,000 lawyers have not provided an e-mail address.

Although not required by the rule, the bar’s administrative policy will provide an exemption to inactive lawyers over 70. In addition, lawyers who do not have an e-mail address may apply for an exemption by completing a form provided by the bar.

The member services center will conduct an outreach campaign to fully apprise the membership of the new requirement.

Judicial Council, ABA delegate openings

The State Bar is seeking applicants for positions on the ABA House of Delegates and the California Judicial Council.

Six positions are open in the ABA House of Delegates when the terms of six current delegates expire in August. State Bar delegates serve two-year terms and may serve three consecutive terms. Eligible incumbents who have served less than three consecutive terms may apply for reappointment. Delegates must be an ABA member in good standing, and are required to pay their own travel expenses, attend the ABA midyear and annual meetings and participate in conference calls.

One position is open on the Judicial Council. Four lawyer members of the 27-member council are appointed by the State Bar. Members serve staggered three-year terms. The council meets six to seven times a year with an annual time commitment of about 300 hours.

Detailed information is available at calbar.ca.gov; select links to Committees and Commissions and to Other Entity Appointments.

The application deadline for the positions on both entities is Feb. 1.

Want to volunteer for a bar committee?

The State Bar is recruiting applicants for approximately 200 positions on more than three dozen committees, boards and commissions. Groups with open positions range from committees dealing with access and fairness issues to section executive committees focused on particular areas of the law to a committee addressing questions of professional responsibility and conduct.

Most of the appointments carry a three-year term, and the application deadline for most is Feb. 1.

Committee terms begin Sept. 26, 2010.

The application form and more information are available at calbar.ca.gov (select bottom left-menu link, under Olio, to Appointments Application), or request an application from the bar’s appointments office by calling 415/538-2318, or faxing 415/538-2255.

Malpractice insurance disclosure required

Lawyers who do not carry malpractice insurance must tell their clients — under most circumstances — that they are not insured under a Rule of Professional Conduct approved by the Supreme Court in August. Rule 3-410 takes effect Jan. 1.

Twenty-three states have adopted some type of malpractice notification requirement, and the American Bar Association adopted a model malpractice disclosure rule in 2004.

The new California rule requires that attorneys notify clients in writing if they do not carry professional liability insurance.

Notification must be made at the time a client hires the lawyer if it is “reasonably foreseeable” that the representation will exceed four hours. If the insurance coverage later lapses, the attorney must tell the client within 30 days of the time he or she is no longer insured.

The rule does not apply to government lawyers and in-house counsel nor to legal services provided in an emergency to avoid prejudice to a client’s rights or interest. It also does not apply if the lawyer previously informed the same client that he or she was not insured.

Lawyer victims may submit statements

Under a new Rule of Procedure adopted by the State Bar Board of Governors, victims of attorney misconduct may submit a written statement to the State Bar Court if the lawyer is found culpable in a discipline case. Rule 216.5 allows the victim to state the nature and extent of harm and explain the manner in which the lawyer’s conduct caused the harm.

The statement will be admitted into evidence during the discipline phase of the trial. In some circumstances, the victim may be required to attend the mitigation/aggravation phase of the hearing for purposes of cross-examination by the attorney.

Judicial Council issues court closure schedule

All California state courts are closed on the third Wednesday of each month through June 2010 due to the state fiscal crisis.

Upcoming court closure days are Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 17, April 21, May 19 and June 16.

See the full report at: courtinfo.ca. gov/jc/documents/age072909.pdf.

Rent a car from Hertz

CalBar Connect, the State Bar’s affinity program, now partners with Hertz to provide discounted rental car rates to bar members. For car rental information and discounts offered by other partners, go to calbarconnect.com.

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