California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - APRIL 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - April 2001
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News / News Briefs
Bar foundation gives $50,000 grant to fund Conference of Delegates
Bar hit with $2.35 million fee demand in lawyer dues case
Bush administration ends ABA review of judicial candidates
Special publication in May Bar Journal
Davis appoints two public members to board of governors
George lauds five years of reform
2001 Annual Meeting will be held in Anaheim
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Trials Digest
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Legal Tech - FindLaw: Lawyers' home on the web
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Opinion
From the President - Butter a slice, not a full loaf
Is it wrong to copy a song?
Letters to the Editor
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Update on ethics
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MCLE Self-Study
Kids and the Law
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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You Need to Know
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Public Comment
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - 2 new rulings send litigators back to basics
Forgery, grand theft, fraud convictions lead to resignation
Attorney Discipline
Wide range of law practice-related bills face the legislature
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Continued from Page 1
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(left to right, top to bottom) Darrell Steinberg, Gloria Romero, Ray Haynes, Sheila Kuehlother groups on the issue to ensure that the protections provided by the bill do not create serious conflicts with public attorneys' other statutory and ethical duties as lawyers.

The second Steinberg bill is AB 913, which is a "spot" bill (i.e., placeholder) for legislation to encourage/increase pro bono activity in California. Steinberg's staff has been meeting with representatives of bar associations and legal services providers from around the state to consider various ideas and approaches to the problem of declining pro bono by California lawyers, and will be amending his bill in light of those meetings.

The decade-long battle over the so-called "baby bar" examination, which has produced four bills passed by the legislature and an equal number of vetoes from two governors, has been rejoined with the introduction of AB 982 by Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh.

As introduced, the measure would exempt students of unaccredited law schools who obtained a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or better from the statutory obligation to take the examination.

This time, however, Firebaugh and the bill's sponsors have expressed a strong interest in working with the Committee of Bar Examiners and the State Bar to seek a long-term resolution to this divisive issue.

Two major bills of interest to the State Bar and the state's lawyers were introduced after the legislative deadline.

One such important measure is SB 139 by Sen. Ray Haynes, which proposes to eliminate the existing Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program for funding legal services in California, and instead provide that the money from such accounts be paid to the lawyers' clients.

Haynes created the new bill via amendment after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its Jan. 10 decision in Washington Legal Foundation v. Legal Foundation of Washington, which held IOLTA programs to fund legal services to be "a taking" (but remanded to the lower court to decide the further issue of whether plaintiffs were entitled to "just compensation").

Haynes is a long-time opponent of IOLTA funding who has previously introduced legislation to eliminate the program.

Gloria Romero, who was recently elected to the state Senate in a special election after a term in the Assembly, has introduced SB 1194, a second post-deadline bill, which would permit those who have been injured by persons practicing law without a license to sue for damages and other appropriate relief.

The bill is sponsored by the Department of Justice and is aimed particularly at the "trust mills" which have been victimizing California consumers.

Other bills of interest introduced include:

AB 1083 by Assembly Member Patricia Bates, which is a clean-up measure to legislation passed last year (AB 1761) establishing a regulatory structure for paralegals in California;

AB 935, by Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, which would establish a loan repayment plan for licensed attorneys who agree to practice in designated public interest areas of the law;

AB 752 (Mike Briggs), which would require all advertisements for legal services relating to home construction defects to include specified information;

AB 1504 (Robert Pacheco), which would require all contingency fee agreements for legal services to include the actual hourly rate the attorney charges for services;

(Sheila Kuehl) would extend until 2004 the State Bar's authority to assess fees of the lawyers it regulates and would maintain the maximum fee the bar may charge at the current $395 per year; and

SB 479 (John Burton) would create an attorney diversion program for State Bar members with substance abuse problems.