California Bar Journal
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Local bar websites: good and bad

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Dana ShultzIn my last column, I wrote about the treasure trove at the State Bar website. This month, the focus shifts to the counties. Because of space limitations, there is no room for comprehensive reviews. Instead, I will mention one or two notable features for each site.

Northern California

The Bar Association of San Francisco site ( shows how a website can help a county bar transact daily business and serve members.

The events calendar lists section and committee meetings and MCLE programs. Each entry includes a description, location, time and contact information. Users can register and pay for programs online.

The Alameda County Bar Association site ( offers current and back issues of The Bulletin, a monthly newsletter.

The online version appears to include all editorial content (even restaurant reviews) but, thankfully, no advertising.

If you’re feeling sleepy, go to the Santa Clara County Bar Association site (

The intense red color theme and animated graphics will wake you up and have earned this site the Most Likely to Make the User Twitch award.

The SCCBA home page has a link to member websites listed by 72 areas of practice. Oddly, the list includes only nine firms (some in multiple areas).

I assume that more than nine firms in Silicon Valley have websites, so either membership in the association is low, or the association has trouble showing the value of advertising at its site.

Southern California

The Los Angeles County Bar Association site ( offers useful practice-related information.

I liked the profiles of 18 judges prepared by the Judicial Profiles Committee. The profiles explain how individual judges run their courtrooms and describe their preferences regarding pre-trial and trial procedures.

The Orange County Bar Associa-tion site ( wins the Most Prominent Vendor Tie-in award.

A member-benefit promotion for the lexisONE service appears front-and-center on OCBA’s home page. For a fixed daily or weekly fee, solo and small-firm attorneys can use LEXIS-NEXIS services.

Finally, the Best of Breed award goes to the San Diego County Bar Association site ( Subtle yet attractive colors and graphics draw the user in. “Breaking News” focuses immediate attention on a few key points.

Other associations would do well to study this site.

Finding Sites

I expected that the State Bar website would help me find county sites. I was wrong.

The State Bar home page ( has a link to search for local, specialty and minority bars. Unfortunately, to find a given bar association, one must spell at least part of its name precisely from the beginning.

So, for example, a user who enters “San Francisco” will be disappointed, because “Bar Association of San Francisco” starts with “b” rather than “s”.

As near as I can tell, the only way to see a complete listing is to search for “a,” then scroll. But this approach is impractical.

The display shows information for just under two associations on each screen, so scrolling through hundreds of entries is tedious.

Even worse, while there are contact names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, there are no e-mail or website addresses!

As a result, I had to rely on a general purpose search engine to find the county bar sites.

I can only hope that the State Bar will remedy these weaknesses.

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