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

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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Governor signs two-year fee bill

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Gov. Gray Davis signed a two-year fee bill authorizing the State Bar to collect up to $390 a year in member dues but sent back to the legislature a measure to create a diversion program for alcoholic or drug-addicted lawyers.

SB 479, authored by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, was returned to lawmakers for technical amendments and is expected ultimately to be signed by Davis.

The fee bill, SB 352, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and the diversion measure are double-joined, meaning neither can take effect without the other.

The fee bill enables the bar to collect member dues for 2002 and 2003 and marks the first time since 1995 that a multi-year authorization was approved. The bar lobbied hard for a two-year funding bill in order to facilitate long-range planning.

"This measure gives us the ability to make long-term strategic plans and to budget accordingly," said State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson. "Sound financial planning will enhance the bar's ongoing efforts to become more efficient and to assure accountability to our members."

A multi-year fee bill was a key recommendation by retired Justice Elwood Lui, appointed by the Supreme Court as a special master to oversee bar finances during the dues crisis in 1998.

Although the bar was authorized to collect $395 this year, the board of governors set the fees for most active members at $350. The new authorization reduces from $40 to $35 the portion of member dues set aside for the Client Security Fund, which reimburses clients of dishonest attorneys.

The diversion bill requires that $10 of every active member's dues will be earmarked to fund the program, which Burton and the bar envision as primarily a voluntary operation to which alcoholic lawyers would refer themselves. It is modeled after a similar program for physicians run by the California Medical Association.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are generally believed to account for about one-third of the discipline cases the bar pursues every year. In addition to the diversion program, the bar plans to create a special drug court in the coming year to divert errant attorneys with substance abuse problems out of the discipline system and into some form of treatment.