Five seats open on bar board
Attorneys interested in running for one of five seats on the State Bar Board of Governors may take out nominating petitions next month. The election will be held in August and September. Seats are open in District 4, Marin and San Francisco counties; District 6, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; District 7, Los Angeles County (offices 1 and 2); and District 8, Orange County.
Any active member of the State Bar who maintains his or her principal office for the practice of law within the district with an open seat is eligible to run. There are 23 seats on the Board of Governors.
Lawyer members are elected for three-year terms and will assume their offices at the conclusion of the 1996 Annual Meeting in Long Beach.
Petitions will be available May 17. For further information, contact Biljanna Sivanov, 415/561-8274.
Don't forget to pay your business license fee
In addition to every other fee you have to pay, attorneys in California are required to pay for a business license in the community in which they work.
Richard Quigley, an investigator and collector for the San Jose finance department and vice-president of the California Municipal Tax Association, says both law firms and lawyers who work for themselves must pay the fee.
Attorneys employed by another entity, such as a government agency or a corporation, are not required to pay.
Fees vary widely throughout the state; some are based on gross receipts and others are based on the number of employees.
San Jose's business fees range from $150 to as much as $25,000 for large industries. The license must be renewed annually.
Quigley recommends calling your local city or county finance department for further information.
State Bar board to meet in Los Angeles April 19-20
The State Bar Board of Governors will hold its next meeting April 19-20 at the bar offices in Los Angeles. Committees will meet April 19 and the full board will meet at 9 a.m. April 20. An agenda is available from the bar's secretary at 415/561-8200.
Towery to discuss the plebiscite in San Diego
San Diego-area attorneys are invited to hear State Bar President Jim Towery discuss the upcoming plebiscite on the bar's future later this month. Towery will speak April 16 at the San Diego County Bar Association offices at 1333 7th Avenue at 5:30 p.m.
Further information is available from Dino Buzunis at 619/238-1712.
Legal services attorneys: Open your own practice
Former legal services attorneys are invited to attend a one-day seminar on how to open a private practice. Panelists will offer advice on how to locate an office and hire a staff, accounting and trust account procedures, ethics and finances, insurance, marketing and "re-orientation."
The seminar begins at 9:30 a.m. April 13 at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. Participants may earn 5.5 hours of MCLE credit.
The event is sponsored by the State Bar Legal Services Section Standing Committee on Legal Services to the Poor, the bar's Law Practice Management Section and Golden Gate University School of Law. Further information is available from Hester Honda, 714/835-4540.
Standards revised for fee arbitration programs
Local bar associations and lawyer referral services now must include a filing fee schedule and refund policy in their rules for fee arbitration. The fees and refund policy must be "reasonably related to the amount in dispute and the cost of providing the service."
In addition, the fees cannot be so high that they discourage using the program.
Programs have six months to comply with the new requirements.
New procedure for public agency bar dues refund
The Board of Governors made permanent interim rules to minimize the threat of lawsuits against public agencies that pay their employees' bar fees. Under the new rule, public agencies may receive a refund if, as a result of arbitration proceedings to determine the mandatory and voluntary portions of the annual membership fee, there is a finding that the bar underestimated the voluntary portion.
The board had approved an interim rule in December in response to concerns that public agencies would be vulnerable to lawsuits on the ground that their payment of the voluntary portion of dues was an improper use of public funds.
A 40-day public comment period did not result in any change to the interim rule.
New rule of court to accommodate disabilities
On Jan. 1, the Judicial Council implemented new California Rule of Court 989.3 enabling lawyers, clients and other court users with disabilities to request accommodations.
An estimated 8,000 attorneys in California have some type of disability. Of the 4.7 million other disabled individuals in the state, some may be assumed to be involved with the courts in some way - as witnesses, parties, jurors, etc.
Under the new rule, any person with a disability who has business with a court may request accommodations directly to a judicial officer in confidence. The rule is consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires public entities to make reasonable modifications to provide access to people with disabilities.
"Attorneys should not have to beg for accommodations, often no more difficult that switching counsel tables in court so they can better hear or see the proceedings," said U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who originally proposed the new rule.
The rule was developed by a State Bar committee which is developing policies to improve employment opportunities for legal professionals with disabilities.
Bar offers limited liability partnership forms
State Bar registration forms are now available for California attorneys interested in forming limited liability partnerships -- entities that are liable like corporations and taxed like partnerships.
"This represents a new, very attractive option for many of California's lawyers," said bar President James Towery. "At the same time, it provides added protection for consumers by requiring such partnerships to maintain security for malpractice claims."
To practice as part of a limited liability partnership (LLP), attorneys are required by law to register with the California Secretary of State and the State Bar. The bar's registration fee for each LLP is $50 per partner, with a maximum $2,500 charge per partnership.
Anticipating the legislation, the bar recently developed rules, regulations and the initial fee schedule, as well as a process for certifying the new partnerships.
Without LLP certification, a law partner's personal liability for malpractice claims against the partnership is unlimited. Not only can a malpractice claimant collect the personal assets of partners involved in the lawsuit, the other partners also stand to lose personal assets to the claimant until the entire judgment is satisfied.
Attorneys may continue to form law corporations. The LLP program simply provides an additional option.
Registration forms are available by calling 415/241-2100.