California Bar Journal
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Nominations sought for Aranda Award

The California Commission on Access to Justice is seeking nominations for the Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award. Only 3 years old, the award honors a judge who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving access to the courts and who has personally done significant work in improving access for low and moderate income Californians.

Nomination forms may be downloaded from the State Bar's website,, and must be submitted by Oct. 12 to Mary Viviano, Director, Legal Services Outreach, State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco 94105-1639.

The award will be made jointly by the Judicial Council, the California Judges Association and the State Bar and will be presented at the California Judicial Administration Conference early in 2002.

Questions may be directed to Mary Viviano at 415/538-2251.

Group 3 (last names N-Z) MCLE deadline Feb. 1

Attorneys who are members of MCLE Compliance Group 3 (last names beginning N-Z) must complete 25 hours of continuing education by the compliance deadline of Feb. 1, 2002. Those who did not complete the previously required 36 hours by Feb. 1, 1999, have until Feb. 1, 2002, to complete a total of 61 hours.

A late fee of $75 will be assessed March 15 for those who have not complied.

Questions about MCLE compliance may be directed to 415/538-2100.

Judicial Council launches website for pro pers

Free help is now available on the internet for the estimated 4.3 million Californians who represent themselves in court each year.

The California Courts Online Self-Help Center debuted July 17 at

The new website offers more than 900 pages of tools, resources and links for legal assistance in the areas most needed by self-represented litigants, including divorce, domestic violence, child custody/support, traffic and small claims.

It also offers easy-to-understand descriptions of court procedures, information about choosing and completing necessary court forms, and links to legal services organizations and programs that provide legal advice and additional assistance.

Sample fee agreements available for $5

The State Bar offers sample fee agreement forms for $5 per set. Each set contains two sample hourly agreements (one for litigation matters and one for non-litigation matters) and one sample for contingent matters. In addition, the set contains samples of 11 other clauses that may be of interest.

The agreements may be purchased by sending a check for $5, payable to State Bar of California, for each set requested to: State Bar of California - Mandatory Fee Arbitration, 180 Howard Street, 6th Floor, San Francisco 94105-1639.

State Bar committee offers two free MCLE seminars

In the interest of educating lawyers about ways to avoid malpractice claims, the State Bar's Committee on Professional Liability Insurance will provide two free MCLE seminars in October.

"Risk Management Audits for Solo and Small Practitioners" will be conducted by Anthony Davis, a nationally known speaker on risk management. The six-hour course will be held at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento Oct. 1 and at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Oct. 2. Check-in is at 11:30 a.m., and the course lasts from noon until 6 p.m.

The seminars are open to all attorneys at no cost. Those wishing to attend should register in advance at Participants will receive six hours of MCLE credit in ethics.

LLP annual report due

Limited Liability Partnerships' annual reports were mailed Aug. 1. If your LLP was certified by the State Bar prior to Oct. 1, 2000, you will receive an annual report.

To maintain your LLP status with the State Bar, it is necessary to complete the annual report form and mail it to the State Bar before the deadline of Oct. 1, 2001. 

If you have any questions about LLPs or have not received the annual report by mid-August, please call 415/538-2142.

Special masters sought

The State Bar is seeking to boost its roster of special masters who assist courts in specific searches authorized by warrant. The special master accompanies peace officers in searching for documentary evidence under the control of attorneys, physicians, psychotherapists and clergy members.

Any attorney who is in good standing with the State Bar, has practiced for at least five years and does not have a criminal law practice is eligible. Participants receive one hour of MCLE credit from an instructional audio tape. Interested persons should contact Brandie Burroughs at 415/538-2117 for an application.

Attorneys invited to apply for CRLA board of directors

State Bar members interested in serving on the board of directors of California Rural Legal Assistance are invited to submit an application for one open seat. The 45-member board meets four times a year to make policy decisions about the organization, which provides legal help to the rural poor. The term is for two years.

Lawyers should submit a letter of application and a resume by Oct. 1 to Chris Zupanovich, 180 Howard St., San Francisco 94105. Questions may be directed to 415/538-2534.

Fee arb trainings set for Los Angeles, Merced

Recent developments in fee arbitration will be discussed at training programs in Los Angeles and Merced sponsored by the State Bar's Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration. The free trainings offer 2.75 hours of MCLE credit, including one hour of legal ethics.

The Los Angeles training is scheduled for Oct. 4 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Park Hyatt, 2151 Avenue of the Stars. Arbitrators from the Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica bar associations are invited.

The Merced training is scheduled for Oct. 18 from 5 - 8 p.m. in the staff dining room at Merced College, 3600 M Street. It is for arbitrators for the Merced and Stanislaus County bar associations, as well as interested attorneys from Madera, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.

Both sessions also are open to State Bar fee arbitrators.

Among the topics for discussion are how to write an enforceable award, conflicts of interest, disclosure requirements and how to control the proceeding.

To register for the Los Angeles training, contact the State Bar's fee arbitration office at 415/538-2074. To register for the Merced session, call the Merced bar's fee arbitration committee at 209/723-4633 or 209/723-2137; e-mail:

For more information about either training, call Jill Sperber, director of the State Bar's fee arbitration program, at 415/538-2023.

Task force named to look at judicial service

Chief Justice Ronald George appointed a new statewide task force to study judicial service, retention and compensation for state judges. The 17-member group will examine issues including sabbatical leave, mentorship programs, special needs and programs for new and retired judges, benefits and quality of judicial life resources and programs.

"This task force will study ongoing issues that vitally affect the quality of the California judiciary, the largest in the nation," George said. "The goal is to identify the best practices in benefits, compensation and related issues to ensure that the judicial branch attracts and retains the most qualified judges to serve full careers on the bench."

Los Angeles appellate Justice Candace D. Cooper is the chair.