Legal services grants available

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announces the availability of competitive grant funds to provide civil legal services to eligible clients during calendar year 1999. In accordance with LSC's multi-year funding policy, the solicitation of proposals will be only for specified service areas. The amount of funds and the date and terms of their availability are not yet known.

Request for Proposals (RFP) will be available May 15 and may be obtained by calling LSC at 202/336-8900.

The Notice of Intent to Compete is due July 1 and grant proposals must be received at LSC by July 22.

Justice system projects available on the web

The American Bar Association recently released a report on public involvement in the justice system, detailing 158 projects throughout the nation which involve non-lawyers.

"Justice Initiatives: The Courts, the Bar and the Public Working to Improve the Justice System" includes state-by-state summaries of activities, along with contact names and phone numbers.

California's efforts toward improving the justice system include the Commission on Access to Justice, composed of lawyers, business leaders and community members working to make it easier for low and moderate income residents to access the justice system.

Based on a survey of state supreme courts, state and local bar associations, the report is posted on the ABA web site at www.abanet.org/justice.

Five seats open on State Bar's Board

Five seats on the State Bar's Board of Governors are up for grabs this summer.

They are in District 2 (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Tuolumne and Yolo counties); District 3 (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties); District 4 (Marin and San Francisco counties) and District 7 (Los Angeles County, offices 1 and 2).

Nominating petitions are available and must be filed by July 6.

Any active member of the bar who maintains his or her principal office for the practice of law within any of the districts listed above is eligible to run for a seat on the board.

Lawyer members are elected for three-year terms and will assume their offices at the conclusion of the 1998 annual meeting.

New board members will replace Samuel L. Jackson of Sacramento, Ann Ravel of San Jose, Raymond C. Marshall of San Francisco, and Leon Goldin and Jeffrey Tidus of Los Angeles. Their terms expire this year.

Information about running for the board and nominating petitions are available from Biljanna Sivanov at 415/561-8274.

Judicial Council adopts new rules

New rules of court governing the membership and operations of the Trial Court Budget Commission have been approved by the Judicial Council of California.

The commission makes recommendations on budget and policy issues for California's 174 trial courts.

New rules 1020 and 1026 contain provisions affecting membership selection and number of members, budget requests, funding allocation and reallocation, and an annual report.

There are 24 voting members on the commission who are selected through nominations and recommendations of the Judicial Council's executive and planning committee.

Emeritus attorney program seeks volunteers

The State Bar's emeritus attorney pro bono participation program offers retired attorneys the opportunity to contribute their valuable legal skills to assist low-income Californians. The bar waives the active membership fees of emeritus attorneys who volunteer through qualified legal services programs.

Attorneys may vary their level of involvement and do not need to have expertise in poverty law. Emeritus attorneys receive training, access to MCLE programs and malpractice insurance coverage through their local programs.

To be eligible, an attorney must be a member in good standing with the State Bar, have practiced law or served as a judge in California at least three of the last eight years, and have been admitted to practice law at least 10 years.

Further information is available from Eve Hershcopf in the bar's office of legal services at 415/561-8213 or 1-800/628-4858.

Access to Justice group makes plans

California's new "Access to Justice" commission has three projects in the works: a series of community forums addressing barriers to access; roundtable discussions of pro per issues, initially focusing on family law; and a pro per survey to determine the needs of individuals who are forced to handle their own legal matters.

Commission head Laurie Zelon said the new group is made of attorneys, judges, and representatives of community, academic and business groups throughout the state.

Information about the commission is available from Mary Viviano at 415/561-8251.

Judicial Branch web site adds to its database

As a service to the bench, bar and public, the California Rules of Court and new Judicial Council forms are now posted on the Judicial Branch web site. The Rules of Court can be found at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/rules and the Judicial Council forms, which can be downloaded but not filled out online, are at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms.

The Judicial Branch web site also features a variety of information about the California court system, including Judicial Council publications, the Supreme Court's calendars and procedures, and full texts of "slip opinions" of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal that have been certified or ordered published.