PUBLIC COMMENT

State Bar circulates nine proposals


The State Bar currently is circulating nine proposals for public comment. All comments must be sent to the appropriate contact by the deadline. Circulation of items for public comment does not mean the proposal will be implemented.

Client funds

This proposed change would allow attorneys to hold nominal and short-term client funds in either repurchase agreements fully collateralized by U.S. Government and Government Agency Securities or certain high-quality money market funds. Funds would still have to be deposited initially in FDIC-insured bank accounts, but this change would permit attorneys to use alternative types of bank-checking accounts, now offered by many banks, that would increase revenue to the Legal Services Trust Fund Program.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Legal Services

Deadline: July 15

Contact: Judy Garlow, director, Legal Services Trust Fund Program, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8249


Reinstatement petitions

Proposed alternative amendment to Title II, Division VIII, rule 662 of the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar of California would authorize reinstatement petitions after five years of a resignation with charges pending and extends period to 10 years if it relates to an investigation or proceeding concerning a felony involving moral turpitude or meets summary disbarment criteria; allow State Bar Court to set a five-year limit, 10-year limit or a permanent prohibition to filing reinstatement petition; and, require attorneys who seek reinstatement to pass the California attorney examination to prove current ability and knowledge in the general law.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Discipline

Deadline: July 15

Contact: Mary T. Yen, senior trial counsel, Office of the Chief Trial Counsel, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8258


Bar regulations

To encourage feedback from State Bar members and the public on rule changes which touch on significant legal and regulatory issues, a special task force has recommended revisions to the bar's procedures for soliciting public comment. For example, all written explanations of proposed rule changes would be distributed from one central location, all public comment notices would be published in at least one issue of the bar's official publication and on the bar's home page on the World Wide Web, and all notices would include the rationale for the proposed change, the argument against it, and its fiscal and personnel impact.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Communications & Bar Relations

Deadline: July 18

Contact: Jackie Reinhardt, Office of Communications and Public Educa-tion, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8357


Membership issues

Article I of the Rules and Regulations of the State Bar establishes a policy for membership, annual membership fees and penalties. Over the years, rules have been added and amendments have been made to accommodate the growing complexity of membership, legislatively mandated programs, and the special needs and circumstances of bar members. The rules now include various waivers, scaling, penalty assessments and the "Hudson" deduction rules which occasionally conflict, are inconsistent or cause an unintended result. The recommended changes are intended to streamline the process, acknowledge designations of certain actions, authorize staff to process multiple-year fee waivers, and attain consistency of dates, language and basis of relief.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Administration & Finance

Deadline: July 18

Contact: Elyse Cotant, manager, Member Services and Information, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8326


Adverse interests

The amendment to rule 3-310 of the Rules of Professional Conduct adds new subparagraph (C)(4) which would prohibit a member from representing a current client in a matter, and at the same time in a separate matter accepting representation of a client whose interest in the separate matter is adverse to the interests of the current client, unless the member obtains the informed written consent of each client. The proposed amendment would also make conforming amendments to existing subparagraph (C)(3) and add new discussion section language.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Admissions & Competence

Deadline: July 29

Contact: Eloise Chitmon, Office of Professional Competence, Planning & Development, 100 Van Ness Ave., 28th Flr., San Francisco 94102-5238; 415/241-2157


Fee arbitration procedures

Would amend rules 15 and 19 of the State Bar's fee arbitration rules to comply with new specifications in the Guidelines and Minimum Standards for the Operation of Mandatory Fee Arbitration Programs that require filing fees and refund policies to be included in fee arbitration rules of procedure.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Client Relations & Assistance and State Bar Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration

Deadline: Sept. 3

Contact: Susie Mueller, Office of Fee Arbitration, 100 Van Ness Ave., 28th Flr., San Francisco 94102-5238; 415/241-2036


Fee arbitration rights

Would amend Notice of Your Rights After Fee Arbitration form to comport with Code of Civil Procedure 116.220 which was amended last year to permit small claims courts to confirm, correct or vacate a fee arbitration award and to conduct a trial after a non-binding mandatory fee arbitration proceeding if the fees in dispute are less than $5,000.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Client Relations and Assistance and State Bar Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration

Deadline: Sept. 3

Contact: Susie Mueller, Office of Fee Arbitration, 100 Van Ness Ave., 28th Flr., San Francisco 94102-5238; 415/241-2036


Admission to practice law

The majority of the proposed amendments are editorial in nature and are intended to clarify and simplify the process by which applicants establish eligibility for admission to practice law in California. The few substantive changes proposed include: 1) changing the method for establishing eligibility to take the Attorneys' Examination from having to prove that one has been "actively" practicing law to providing evidence of admission in good standing from the jurisdiction in which the attorney is admitted for four of the last six years; 2) requiring law schools to certify that their students have satisfied the pre-legal education requirements in lieu of the admissions staff having to make that initial determination; 3) simplifying the language concerning residence hours of law study so that the burden falls on the law schools to certify that applicants have met the minimum legal education requirements required by statute; 4) restricting out-of-state attorneys who are disbarred or suspended from filing a moral character determination application; and 5) requiring those who study law in a law office or judge's chambers to pay a fee for participation in the program.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Admissions & Competence and State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners

Deadline: Sept. 3

Contact: Gayle Murphy, Office of Admissions, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8322


Duty of confidentiality

Proposed new rule 3-100 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct would provide that a member shall not be subject to discipline for revealing confidential information relating to the representation of a client to the extent that the member reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to prevent the client from committing a criminal act likely to result in death or substantial bodily harm. Additionally, the proposed new rule would set forth a definition of "confidential information" for the purposes of the rule. The goal is to clarify a member's absolute duty of confidentiality under Business & Professions Code 6068 (e) with recently enacted Evidence Code 956.5, which creates an exception to the attorney-client privilege where a lawyer reasonably believes that disclosure of any confidential communication relating to the representation of a client is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

Source: State Bar Board Committee on Admissions & Competence

Deadline: Sept. 9

Contact: Eloise Chitmon, Office of Professional Competence, Planning & Development, 100 Van Ness Ave., 28th Flr., San Francisco 94102-5238; 415/241-2157

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