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Court task force seeks family law expertise

A Supreme Court-created task force aimed at improving family law is seeking input from California lawyers. The Elkins Family Law Task Force is urging lawyers from around the state to go to the survey Web site,, and provide answers about one's own experience. Questions include, "How often do potential clients contact you but are unable to afford to hire you?" "Do you have any difficulties obtaining a record (transcript) of court proceedings?" "Approximately how many pro bono family law cases did you have last year?"

The goal of the survey, said Task Force Chair Laurie Zelon, associate justice of the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles, is to collect data and suggestions from attorneys throughout the state that will help the courts in achieving efficiency and fairness in family law proceedings and ensure access to justice for litigants, many of whom are self-represented.

"The task force is a unique opportunity to address long-standing issues in family law that stem from a variety of challenges," said Zelon. "The involvement of all interested and affected stakeholders is critical to the success of this effort."

The 38-member task force, which was appointed by William Vickrey, administrative director of the courts, aims to release recommendations for public comment next summer, Zelon said. Creation of the task force stems from the case, Elkins v. Superior Court, in which litigant Jeffrey Elkins, who was representing himself in a divorce proceeding, was not allowed to introduce his exhibits as sanctions for not following Contra Costa County court rules. The California Court of Appeal denied his writ petition, but the California Supreme Court struck down the rules and Chief Justice Ronald George suggested creation of a task force to make sure family law practices are fair and efficient.

In appointing members of the task force, Vickrey said the significance and importance of family law cases cannot be overstated. "The parties deserve policies and procedures that can be understood and navigated, and the rules must ensure due process and the opportunity to be heard to ensure the trust and confidence of parties involved in family law proceedings," he said.

Task force work will also include public forums and focus groups in English and other languages, giving people a chance to relate their own experiences in family law and seeking recommendations for change.

The survey is available at Other comments and suggestions may be sent to

State Bar to hold first small firm summit in January at Claremont

The State Bar is holding its first-ever California Solo and Small Firm Summit next month in Berkeley in conjunction with the State Bar 2009 Section Education Institute.

Scheduled for Jan. 15-16 at the Claremont Resort and Spa, the summit is designed to promote a thriving practice for solo and small firm practitioners. It will provide guidance and a fresh look at the trends and solutions that affect and work for solo and small firm practitioners and will feature power networking events, mentoring circles, legal education classes and business management courses. In addition, it will showcase products and services unique to the solo or small firm practitioner.

State Bar President Holly Fujie will provide opening remarks on Thursday, Jan. 15. Education sessions will be presented through Friday noon, followed by a networking luncheon. Speakers include Stephen Fairley on building a seven-figure practice, Roy Ginsburg on recharging legal careers and Anthony Kalikas on Internet marketing. Other sessions include a focus on fitting your practice to your lifestyle, accounts receivable management and best practices in client service. For more information, go to or call 415-538-2368.

The summit is being held in conjunction with the State Bar 2009 Section Education Institute (SEI), which will be held Jan. 16-18, also at the Claremont. The institute will provide more than 70 workshops and programs on substantive legal issues and fundamental approaches to the practice of law. Up to 13 hours of MCLE credit can be earned. Legal specialization credit may be earned in criminal law, estate planning, family law, immigration law, taxation and workers' compensation law. For more information, go to or call 415-538-2368.

Feb. 2 is MCLE deadline for last names H through M

Members of MCLE compliance group 2 — last names H through M — face a Feb. 2, 2009, deadline to complete 25 hours of continuing education courses.

At least half the requirement

must be fulfilled with participatory courses and up to 12.5 hours may be self-study. Four of the hours must be completed in ethics courses, and one hour each is required in elimination of bias and detection and prevention of substance abuse.

Members of Group 2 who miss the compliance deadline will be assessed a $75 late fee Feb. 3, 2009.

All attorneys, including those who are exempt, must submit a compliance card. Exempt attorneys include officers and elected officials of the state of California, fulltime professors at law schools accredited by the ABA and/or the State Bar, and attorneys and administrative law judges for the federal government and the state.

Compliance may be reported online, through the My State Bar Profile feature on the bar's home page,; or by returning the compliance card that was mailed with the annual fee statement Dec. 1.

Complete information about MCLE requirements is available on the Web site or by e-mailing or calling 415-538-2130.

Applicants sought for Judicial Council and ABA House of Delegates

The State Bar is seeking applicants for one position on the Judicial Council and six positions, one for a young lawyer, on the ABA House of Delegates.

The term for the lawyer appointee to the Judicial Council begins Sept. 15, 2009, and expires Sept. 14, 2012. Meetings will be held six to seven times a year with an annual time commitment of about 300 hours. 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.

Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates serve two-year terms but are eligible to serve three consecutive terms. The terms of current delegates expire next August and eligible incumbents may apply for reappointment. Each State Bar delegate must be an ABA member in good standing throughout his or her tenure as a delegate. Applicants for the young lawyer position must be 35 years or younger at the time of his/her term begins.

Delegates pay their own travel expenses and are expected to attend the ABA Midyear and Annual meetings as well as participate in conference calls. In addition to the bar's selection guidelines, consideration will be given to each applicant's qualifications, attendance at meetings, participation in ABA activities and/or work contributed to the ABA in the past two years.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 2. Applications must be submitted to the State Bar's Appointments Office, 180 Howard St., San Francisco CA 94105-1639, or by fax to 415-538-2255. Further information is available at the State Bar Web site, Select links to Committees and Commissions and to Other Entity Appointments. Applicants may also contact the Appointments Office at 415-538-2318.

Calling all volunteers

The State Bar is recruiting applicants for approximately 170 positions on more than three dozen committees, boards and commissions. Groups with open positions range from committees dealing with access and fairness issues to section executive committees focused on particular areas of the law to a committee addressing questions of professional responsibility and conduct to legal services committees that work with day-to-day delivery of legal services to poor and middle-income individuals, administering the IOLTA program and exploring ways to improve access to civil justice.

Most of the appointments carry a three-year term, and the application deadline for most is Feb. 2. Applicants may apply to a maximum of three committees but can only be appointed to one. The board of governors will make the appointments in May and July 2009; committee terms begin Sept. 13, 2009.

The application form and more information are available at (select bottom left-menu link, under Olio, to Appointments Application). Or request an application from the bar's appointments office by phone, 415-538-2318, or fax, 415-538-2255.

Information about 2009 membership fees on web

Members may find the audited Statement of Expenditures of Mandatory Membership Fees on the State Bar's Web site ( This statement shows how State Bar membership fees are spent. In addition, there is an explanation about the $10 deductions to membership fees and the procedures for arbitration under Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990).

A copy may also be obtained by writing to: Office of the Secretary, The State Bar of California, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.

More affinity partners join CalBar Connect

A group of affinity partners who provide tools and services to assist attorneys with marketing their practices have joined CalBar Connect, the State Bar's members-only Web site. The new partners are:

  • Research Triangle Software provides discounts on Lettermark® branded and secure e-mail.
  • specializes in legal Web design. Through CalBar Connect, members receive up to a 25 percent discount.
  • Threads Apparel & Merchandise offers exclusive savings for members only. Save an average of 28 percent on promotional apparel and merchandise needs.
  • is a Web-based tool that provides attorneys with tools and tips to market their law practice. Through CalBar Connect, members receive a $200 discount on the annual subscription fee.

CalBar Connect (, part of the bar's member services and benefits initiative, links directly to partners, their products and to other State Bar member services and benefits.

Other partners include Bank of America, offering a full range of financial products, insurance partners — Marsh Affinity, Liberty Mutual and AI&PS — and UPS, Office Max and Brooks Brothers.

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