California Bar Journal
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Treasure trove at the State Bar
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Dana ShultzI suspect that most members of the State Bar are not familiar with the treasure trove at the bar’s website ( Here is an overview of the site’s varied offerings.          

The upper portion of the bar’s 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.

Reference Information

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 vendor’s in-house attorney was taking an unusually hard line on several important issues.

Member Records

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