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Judicial Council, ABA House seek applicants

The State Bar is seeking applicants for one position on the Judicial Council and for five appointments to the ABA House of Delegates. The Judicial Council appointment begins Sept. 15, 2003, and expires Sept. 14, 2006. Meetings are held six to seven times a year with an annual time commitment of about 300 hours for meetings and assignments.

Members are reimbursed for approved travel by the Judicial Council. In making the appointments, the bar board of governors will consider the applicants' demonstrated leadership skills and ability to effectively represent the lawyer perspective on the council.

In 2003, the terms of five State Bar delegates to the ABA House of Delegates expire. One of the five seats is the young lawyer representative, who must be less than 35 years old before his or her term begins on Aug. 12, 2003. The ABA delegates each serve a two-year term from Aug. 12, 2003, to Aug. 9, 2005. State Bar delegates may be reappointed but can serve no more than three consecutive terms. They are expected to attend the ABA Midyear and Annual meetings as well as participate in conference calls and are required to pay their own travel expenses. All members are encouraged to become broadly participant in ABA activities in order to fully represent the interests of California attorneys. The State Bar seeks applicants who are knowledgeable about the ABA Board of Governors, who possess leadership and other skills to be successful delegation members, and/or who have substantial bar experience, especially with the ABA.

Deadline for applications is Jan. 31.

Applications must be submitted to the State Bar's Appointments Office, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco 94105-1639, or by fax 415/538-2255. Further information is available at the State Bar web site, www.calbar.ca. gov, by selecting links to Committees and Commissions and to Other Entity Appointments. Applicants may also contact the appointments office at 415/538-2299.

MCLE deadline looms for Group 2 (last names H-M)

Members of MCLE compliance group 2 (last names H-M) who are not part of an exempt group must complete 25 hours of continuing legal education by the compliance deadline of Feb. 1, 2003.

Attorneys who comply after that date may be subject to a $75 fine.

Information about MCLE compliance rules is available at www.cal bar.ca.gov by clicking on the MCLE link on the right-hand menu.

State Bar dues bills mailed

Dues bills were mailed Nov. 15 to all active and inactive California attorneys. The dues are authorized by the state legislature and set by the State Bar Board of Governors.

Dues for active lawyers are $390 for the coming year, and dues for inactive members remain at $50.

Again this year, attorneys will have the option of contributing to the Foundation of the State Bar, which suggests donations of $50, and the new Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, which is seeking contributions of $10. New this year is a request for donations to the California Supreme Court Histor-ical Society, which is asking for $25 each from the state's lawyers.

Active attorneys can deduct $5 from the dues bill for the bar's lobbying efforts and $5 for the elimination of bias fund.

Attorneys who earn less than $25,000 from the practice of law can qualify for a 50 percent reduction, bringing their dues to $195. Those earning between $25,000 and $40,000 are eligible for a 25 percent cut, for a dues bill of $292.50.

The deadline for payment is Feb. 1. Failure to pay will result in a 10 percent penalty March 15, and an additional 15 percent penalty will be imposed May 15.

Information about the fee bill is available at 415/538-2360.

Bar switches carriers for its malpractice program

In a move which may help ease the malpractice insurance woes of thousands of California lawyers, the State Bar's Board of Governors approved a change in the sponsored carrier for its professional liability insurance program.

Arch Insurance Co. has replaced Chicago Insurance Co., a member of the Fireman's Fund Interstate Insurance Group, as the bar's ap-proved professional liability insurance carrier.

Attorneys and law firms currently insured through the bar's malpractice insurance program by Chicago Insurance Co. need not take any action. Applications for new or renewal policies through brokers or Seabury and Smith will be submitted to Arch Insurance Co.

The new underwriter brings with it additional capacity to write policies  in California, giving the bar's program the flexibility to insure more members. Chicago Insurance Co. informed the bar earlier this year that business restructuring initiatives would limit its ability to accommodate the program's continued growth.

Malpractice insurance premiums have soared in recent months and underwriters often have restricted special coverage. Arch will continue to offer innovative policies such as policies for part-time practitioners, as well as tail coverage for retirees.

California lawyers who buy their malpractice coverage through the State Bar also will receive additional member benefits, such as free online legal research and a loss prevention telephone hotline. Arch will continue financial support for claims avoidance and risk management activities conducted by the State Bar.

Information about the bar's insurance program is available from the program administrator, Marsh Affinity Group Services, a service of Seabury and Smith, at 800/343-0132, or the State Bar, 415/538-2507.

District 3 votes to be canvassed this month

Ballots cast in the special election for the open District 3 seat on the State Bar Board of Governors were to be counted the first week of December, in time for the winner to join the board at its Dec. 6 meeting.

The candidates are Stephen Barnett, professor at Boalt Hall, Michael Lynn Gabriel of San Mateo, Michael Schmier of Emeryville and Valerie Kral of Redwood City. The latter three are sole practitioners.

Lawyers who practice in the district, which includes Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, had until Nov. 19 to vote for the replacement for Marie Weiner, who recently joined the San Mateo County Superior Court.

The winner's term will expire in 2004.

Four named to diversion oversight committee

Gov. Davis appointed four new members to the Attorney Diversion and Assistance Program Oversight Committee last month.

They are James E. Blancarte, 49, of Los Angeles, a partner with the law firm of Blancarte, Lopez, Sussman & Schwartz; Richard Carrillo, 46, of Port Hueneme, an investigator since 1984 for the Department of Motor Vehicles; David S. Hobler, 60, of Mill Valley, a trial lawyer for more than 30 years and a facilitator in chemical dependency treatment; and Dr. Dorothy Tucker of Los Angeles, a police psychologist with the Los Angeles Police Depart-ment since 1982 who also was reappointed to the State Bar Board of Governors last month.

The Attorney Diversion and Assistance Program was created to identify and rehabilitate alcoholic or drug-addicted attorneys or those with mental problems, whose competency is affected by those problems.

Members of the oversight committee do not receive a salary. Their positions do not require Senate confirmation.

Applicants sought for legal services board

Attorneys interested in applying for one of three positions on the board of directors for Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) are invited to submit an ap-plication to the State Bar.

Appplicants must reside or practice in one of the three regions with an opening: Sacramento County, the Mother Lode region (Placer, Nevada, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Sierra counties) and the Butte region (Butte, Plumas, Glenn, Tehama and Colusa counties).

LSNC is a non-profit Legal Services Corporation-funded program which provides legal assistance to low-income residents of 23 northern California counties. The 36-member board meets five times annually to make policy decisions governing the program's operations.

The available positions are for three-year terms and the deadline for applications is Dec. 24.

Applicants should send a letter listing the reasons they should be appointed along with a resume outlining work experience, community activity and educational background to Chris Zupanovich, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. Questions may be directed to her at 415/538-2534 or chris.zupanovich@calbar. ca.gov. 

ABA seeks nominations for two annual awards

The American Bar Association is seeking nominations for the Thurgood Marshall Award and the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards.

The Marshall award, presented by the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, honors long-term contributions made by those in the legal profession to advance civil rights, civil liberties and human rights in the U.S.

Details about the award and the nomination form are online at www. abanet.org/irr or by calling the section at 202/662-1030. The deadline for submitting nominations is Jan. 6.

The Margaret Brent award, presented by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, honors outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence in their area of specialty and have actively paved the way to success for other women attorneys.

The nomination form is available at www.abanet/women/nomform. html. More information is available by contacting the commission at 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60611; 312/988-5668; walterj@staff.abanet. org. Nominations must be submitted by Dec. 13.

New rules for death penalty trial attorneys

The Judicial Council last month approved California's first minimum standards for attorneys appointed to represent death penalty defendants in state trial courts. Although many trial courts have local rules or policies governing court-appointed counsel, the new statewide rules are the first of their kind in California.

The new standards will take effect Jan. 1 as part of rule 4.117 of the California Rules of Court.

They require that counsel must be appointed only if the court determines the lawyer has demonstrated the skill, knowledge and proficiency to competently represent the defendant. The attorney also must meet detailed qualifications, including at least 10 years of litigation experience in the field of criminal law, prior experience as lead counsel in specified types of trials and completion of at least 15 hours of capital case defense training.

More consumer pamphlets available in Spanish

Several of the State Bar's consumer pamphlets have been translated into Spanish as part of the bar's public service efforts. "Kids and the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents," a popular booklet which provides basic information about children and the laws that affect them, is available solely online in both English and Spanish.

Newly translated into Spanish are  "What Should I Know About Hate Crimes?" "Do I Need Estate Plan-ning?" "Do I Need A Will?" and "Do I Need A Living Trust?"

All the consumer education pamphlets are available in English.

The bar also offers three lengthier guides, "When You Become 18," a "Guide to Legal Literacy" and "Kids and the Law." All are online, but only "When You Become 18" is available in print.

All of the bar's pamphlets have been written in an easy-to-understand user-friendly format designed to assist the average consumer. One pamphlet is available at no cost; between two and 99 copies are 50 cents each; and 100 copies of the same pamphlet cost $40.

The order form is available at  www.calbar.ca.gov by following the consumer information link under public services.

MCLE at your desk

The State Bar will sponsor a five-hour teleseminar series the week of Jan. 27-31. The series will be offered from noon-1 p.m. daily and will include two hours of legal ethics, one hour of bias, one hour of elimination of substance abuse and one hour of law practice management.

Call 415/538-2508 for details.

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