California Bar Journal
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The soon-to-be open and shut case of justifiable homicide

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Answer the call for MCLE evaluation

In June 1999, former State Bar president Ray Marshall appointed an MCLE evaluation commission to examine all aspects of the MCLE program. David Heilbron, a past State Bar president, is leading the commission on its mission.

James R. "Jay" GreinerTo date, the commission has done tremendous work gathering information. In addition to meeting three times, it has studied materials from other states, surveyed a sample of MCLE providers and conducted six public forums across the state. So that the commission receives information from our members, the board of governors has authorized the commission to conduct a telephone survey of a representative sample of members. However, this is an area where every member should take the time to voice an opinion.

I urge each of you to take the time to send your views to: MCLE Evaluation Comment, c/o: California Bar Journal, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco 94105. MCLE is an area that touches every lawyer licensed to practice in California. The views from lawyers all over the state, in all sizes of practice, is critical to both the commission’s and the board’s examination of the MCLE program.

James R. “Jay” Greiner
State Bar Board of Governors, Sacramento

Let’s walk together down the MJP path

I was very interested in Palmer Madden’s artful position that “corporate counsel” are so over-qualified as lawyers that they need not be asked to take our bar in order to practice in this state. Once one starts making such a list, we can quickly add such categories as retired judges and lawyers who work for multistate law firms. Let us see, why that just leaves the small practitioners who should not be allowed to move from state to state.

In any organization, the organized always try to discriminate against the unorganized. So it is no shock that those who influence our bar are trying to project special rights for corporate lawyers and the like. To mangle a quote that resides in the back regions of my mind: “The danger is not that evil people discriminate; the danger is that good and decent people find just and proper reasons to discriminate.”

We shouldn’t use the multijurisdictional practice issue to discriminate against any California lawyer because of the practice type or firm size or whether they are of a non-ABA school or not. My suggestion is that we all bite the ethical bullet and walk down the multijurisdictional practice path together.

William B. Briggs

Involuntary servitude, before or after admission?

State Bar vice president Paul Hokokian has apparently called for every law student to perform a minimum number of service hours — possibly 300 — at a nonprofit or government agency as a new requirement for admission to the bar.

In addition to having to survive law school and pass the rigorous California bar, Mr. Hokokian now wishes to impose a term of involuntary servitude on individuals who wish to become members of the bar. As an experienced attorney, Mr. Hokokian should know that the involuntary servitude generally comes after admission to the bar.

Robert. W. Lazzarini
Walnut Creek

The inequity of exemptions

As a lawyer who has practiced some 42 years in California, I have always thought that professional competence required continuing education, particularly in fields beyond my specialty, for responsible counseling mandates the ability to recognize legal issues in related areas of the law and direct clients to those specializing in those areas of practice.

While I dislike being coerced to comply with a requirement that I would otherwise fulfill as a responsible professional, that which will pique my displeasure are circumstances when such compliance is not uniformly applied. I see no distinction between lawyers practicing in the private sector and those whose practice is under the umbrella of the government. By what standard was it decided that a deputy district attorney would not benefit from a mandatory course in ethics and substance abuse, and by the same token, who decided that those on the bench were so all knowing that their legal education could cease?

We all know who set the standards and made the decision, the same lawyers who as judges would be required to recuse jurisdiction over a similar matter on the basis of a conflict of interest. The old story of the wolf guarding the henhouse.

John Carpenter Otto
Palm Springs

Scramble bar numbers to avoid age bias

The State Bar number for individual attorneys should be scrambled to not readily reveal the approximate year of the attorney’s bar admission. The sequential numbering system makes newer attorneys subject to possible bias by forcing them to advertise their new admission to the bar.

The federal courts in New York use the last four digits of Social Security numbers as an individual attorney’s number. How about using the first three letters of the last name plus the last four digits of Social Security numbers? Better yet, let the computer experts scramble the numbers and start assigning non-revealing numbers.

Jaenam Coe
Los Angeles

CBJ costs you nothing

My interest was aroused by an arch reply to a letter in the June issue critical of the content of a Los Angeles Times editorial which was reprinted. The letter’s author seemed to be of the opinion that the State Bar ought to be terminated and expressed the hope that our bar dues are not employed in paying for the Bar Journal, concluding with the observation that “it is not worth anything to me.” You replied, “And it costs you nothing.”

My questions: Is that right? How is the California Bar Journal funded? Entirely from advertising? Does this include the salaries of editorial staff, photographers, contributing writers, etc?

Yes, that is right. California Bar Journal advertising revenue pays for all staff salaries, production and mailing of the paper, contributors, ad reps, art and photography, phones, overhead, travel, including any indirect costs to the bar, such as human resources, payroll, building security, electricity, etc. In addition, the Bar Journal generally turns a profit — last year $172,000 — which goes directly into the bar’s general fund.


California Bar Journal invites its readers to send letters on any topic. All letters must include full name with a daytime telephone number and complete address. All letters are subject to editing, and no anonymous letters will be printed. Send letters to Editor, California Bar Journal, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639; fax to 415/538-2247; or e-mail: