suspect that most members of the State Bar are not familiar with the treasure trove at the
bars website (www.calbar.org). Here is an
overview of the sites varied offerings.
upper portion of the bars home page provides links to pages of current interest.
Examples include educational programs, news releases and bar exam results. More
interesting, however, are the links to the Ethics Hotline and MCLE on the web.
The Ethics Hotline is a confidential research service that helps
lawyers identify and analyze their professional responsibilities.
Available by telephone (800/238-4427 or 415/538-2150) during business
hours, the hotline refers callers to relevant statutes, rules, cases and bar opinions to
help attorneys determine their professional responsibilities.
MCLE on the web offers low-cost, self-study activities that are
ap-proved for mandatory continuing legal education. There are articles and accompanying
tests on 13 topics.
The lower portion of the home page provides links to reference
information. These links are divided into four categories.
The first category is the State Bar. From here, you can find your way
to information on such topics as fees, services and benefits; the board of governors; the
discipline system, including an Adobe Acrobat complaint form; State Bar publications; and
the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The second category is organization of the bar. Most notable are the
almost endless lists of State Bar sections, committees and commissions.
For lawyers in eight specified practice areas (appellate; immigration
and nationality; criminal; personal and small business bankruptcy; estate planning, trust
and probate; taxation; family; and workers compensation), legal specialization is
important. Professional law corporations, limited liability partnerships and out-of-state
attorneys should be particularly interested in the Office of Certifica-tion.
The third category is information and services. While the 75
telephone numbers at Where to Go Whom to Call are handy, the service I use the most
is member records online.
Sometimes I want to learn more about a lawyer before we begin
negotiating an agreement. For example, in one instance, I had heard that a vendors
in-house attorney was taking an unusually hard line on several important issues.
By checking member records online, I learned that this attorney had
been in practice only a few years. I surmised that he had not yet learned how to balance
the desire for legal advantage against the benefits that arise from a solid, cordial,
trusting business relationship.
In addition, I learned that this attorney and I shared our
undergraduate university. While member records online did not turn our negotiations into a
walk in the park, it did give me information that I found helpful.
The final category is features. Here you can find, among other
resources, the current issue of the California Bar Journal, plus back issues starting with
January 1996; legislative news and information; and calbar links.
Calbar links leads to various law-related sites. The links are
organized into four topics: California state and federal government; other bars in
California and elsewhere; California law schools; and other sites, including primary
sources, indices, lists and search tools.
What I learned about the State Bar amazed me as I toured its website
to write this article. Next month, I will focus on several county bar associations.
Dana Shultz is vice
president and legal counsel for an international financial services organization, where he
specializes in technology licensing and related transactions. His e-mail address is email@example.com.