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State Bar dues are due February 1

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 Historical Society, which is asking for $25 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.

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 by clicking on the MCLE link on the right-hand menu.

How to start a law firm

Thinking of opening a law office? The California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) and Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) have collaborated on the sixth edition of "Opening a Law Office: A Handbook for Starting Your Own Business."

The publication provides concise and useful guidance on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of legal business entities; selecting state of the art hardware, software and office equipment; office management, timekeeping and billing; effectively marketing your services; financing your practice; hiring good legal support staff; law office insurance; and trust accounts and client relations.

In addition, checklists for essential procedures and tasks, sample forms, sample budgets, appendices for building a law library and an extensive bibliography for further reference are provided.

"Opening a Law Office" can be purchased for $35, plus $5.95 shipping and handling. Checks should be made payable to the State Bar of California and sent to the State Bar, California Young Lawyers Association, Attn: Leanna Dickstein, 1149 S. Hill St., Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299.

More information and order forms are available at the bar's Web site, or by calling 213-765-1337.

Marshall Award nominees sought by ABA group

The ABA Justice Center is seeking nominations for the 2003 John Marshall Award, honoring an individual who has made a positive impact on the justice system. Eligibility is open to any individual responsible for extraordinary improvement to the administration of justice, and nominees may be non-lawyers.

Nominations should include a resume or biographical sketch, description of the contribution or impact, a maximum of five letters of support, name of the nominator and any other pertinent information.

The deadline for nominations is March 14.

Nominations should be sent to the ABA Justice Center, John Marshall Award, 541 N. Fairbanks Court, Chicago, IL 60611; fax 312-988-5709.

More information is available at or by calling 312-988-5700. Previous winners include director of homeland security Tom Ridge and U. S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

ABA delegates, Judicial Council 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,, by selecting links to Committees and Commissions and to Other Entity Appointments. Applicants may also contact the appointments office 415-538-2299.

MCLE at your fingertips

The State Bar is sponsoring a five-hour teleseminar series this month offering five hours of participatory MCLE credit. The series will be offered at noon every day during the week of Jan. 27-31.

Participants may earn two hours of credit in legal ethics, one hour of elimination of bias, one hour of substance abuse and an hour of law practice management. The cost of each session is $40. Call 415-538-2508 to sign up.

Emeritus program looks for retired attorneys

Retired California lawyers are invited to join the State Bar's emeritus attorney pro bono program through which active attorney fees are waived in exchange for work for an approved legal services program.

Approved by the board of governors in 1987, the emeritus program is designed to take advantage of the skills, training and experience of retired lawyers.

Interested attorneys can obtain an application from Betty J. Barker at 415-538-2328 or Those currently enrolled in the program must renew their applications.

Applicants sought for two legal aid boards

The State Bar is seeking applicants for the boards of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). The deadline for receipt of applications for both boards is Feb. 15.

Two three-year positions are open on the 26-member Orange County board and one three-year position is available on the Los Angeles board, which has 48 members. Both boards meet at least four times a year.

Each organization is a non-profit Legal Services Corp.-funded program created to provide legal assistance to the poor.

Interested attorneys should apply by letter and include a resume of work experience, community activity and educational background. Materials should be sent to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105; Questions may be directed to 415-538-2534.

Juvenile dependency caseload standards studied

The Administrative Office of the Courts, in conjunction with the American Humane Association, has launched a study to identify statewide caseload standards for court-appointed attorneys who represent children involved in juvenile dependency proceedings.

The goal of the Dependency Counsel Caseload Study is to identify maximum dependency counsel caseloads based on an understanding of the activities and tasks attorneys must accomplish at each phase of a dependency case.

Attorneys will be involved in both the study design and implementation. About 1,000 attorneys are appointed each year to handle dependency cases, and the new study is designed to ensure the delivery of quality legal services to the affected children and their parents.

The study is guided by judges, private attorneys, public defenders, county counsel and representatives from the State Bar, National Association of counsel for Children, Court Appointed Special Advocates and California Welfare Directors Association.

The final report will be submitted to the Judicial Council after it is completed in June.

Midyear bar leaders meeting set for March

Bar leaders and executives, minority attorneys and members of specialty bar associations are invited to attend the State Bar's Midyear and California Minority Attorneys' Conference in Long Beach March 21-22.

A special joint plenary session will focus on "Searching for the Uncommon Ground," with a presentation by Angela Blackwell and Stewart Kwoh, authors of a recent study on new dimensions in race in America.

Forums also will be convened on specific issues and needs of local bar associations, as well as minority, women and other specialty bars. MCLE sessions will address the practice of law, career development and elimination of bias.

More information is available by calling 415-538-2328.

IOLTA programs go back to the Supreme Court

Iolta programs, which provide the second largest source of funding for legal services for the poor across the country, were back before the Supreme Court last month, once again a target of a challenge to their constitutionality.

The conservative Washington Legal Foundation of Washington, D.C., sued the Legal Foundation of Washington (state) over its IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) program, charging it constitutes an illegal taking of property in violation of the Fifth Amendment. IOLTA programs receive interest earned on client money held for a short period of time in tax-free, interest-bearing accounts. The takings clause of the Constitution requires that property owners be compensated by the government when it takes their property. Program supporters argued that the interest earned by each client is tiny and that whatever could be allocated to individual clients likely would be absorbed by bank fees.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal originally ruled that IOLTA's use of interest money was an unconstitutional taking, but it later reversed itself. A First Amendment challenge to IOLTA is still pending in the Washington state case and in a Texas case.

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