Searching for balance between media and courts

Cameras in the courtroom is an issue which leads to uncertainty among judges, lawyers and media representatives. The California Judges Association, in cooperation with the State Bar, the Radio and Television News Association and the Judicial Council, will sponsor a day-long conference to examine the issue July 13.

Entitled "The Media and The Courts -- Searching for Balance," the conference will focus on judicial interpretation and application of specific rules governing media access to courtrooms and limiting what attorneys can say to the media about pending cases.

The factors a judge must take into account in deciding these matters will be discussed from bench, bar and media points of view. The conference also is aimed at assisting presiding judges and other judicial policy-makers in establishing rules, policies and educational programs for their local courts.

Chief Justice Ronald George will present the keynote address and State Bar President Jim Towery will chair a panel addressing limits on attorney statements made outside the courtroom.

Media panelists will include on-camera personalities and off-camera news directors.

The conference will be held at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Cost of the conference is $25, lunch included. MCLE credit will be given.

For further information, contact Linda Gorham at the California Judges Association, 415/495-1999.

Five seats open on bar Board of Governors

Candidates for one of the five open seats on the State Bar Board of Governors must submit their nominating petitions by June 14. Ballots will be mailed Aug. 2.

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 October in Long Beach.

For further information, contact Biljanna Sivanov, 415/561-8274.

Conference of Delegates ex-com elections set

Five seats on the Conference of Delegates' executive committee are open. Candidates can nominate themselves or be nominated by a special committee.

District nominating committees will accept resumes or applications until June 28 and make recommendations by July 15.

Petitions for self-nomination will be available July 22 and must be submitted to the conference office by Aug. 27. Petitions must be signed by at least 10 percent of the delegates and alternate delegates from the district.

One seat is open in State Bar districts 2, 3 and 4, and two seats are open in district 7.

For more information about executive committee duties and requirements for nomination, for names and addresses of district nominating committee members, or to receive a petition for self-nomination, contact Jeanett Mulder at 415/561-8844.

Pay your dues to avoid suspension from the bar

Attorneys who fail to pay their 1996 State Bar membership fees face suspension from practice by the California Supreme Court.

On July 22, the bar will file with the Supreme Court a list of delinquent attorneys with the expectation that the court will order their suspension, effective Aug. 12.

Those on the list who wish to avoid suspension must pay their fees, plus late penalties, by Aug. 9. Payment will be accepted at either the San Francisco or Los Angeles bar office.

In 1995, 838 attorneys were suspended for failure to pay membership fees. Such a suspension is placed permanently in State Bar public records.

Questions about fees may be directed to Membership Services Operations, State Bar of California, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102; or call 415/561-8360.

Exam results on Internet

For the first time, the State Bar posted the pass list for the February bar exam on the Internet last month.

Results were mailed to applicants May 24 and were posted on the bar's home page ( May 28. Information also was made available by telephone.

(Results of the exam were not available at the Bar Journal's deadline.)

Swearing-in ceremonies for new lawyers were scheduled in eight locations throughout California on three different dates early this month.

Certifying those who certify legal 'specialists'

A proposed rule change would prohibit attorneys from advertising themselves as certified specialists unless they hold a current certificate issued by the Board of Legal Specialization, or by an entity accredited by the bar to designate specialists.

Rules governing accreditation of specialty certification programs also have been proposed.

The board is recommending that the Supreme Court approve these proposed changes. Currently there are no minimum standards required for certifying entities, and there is nothing to stop them from granting that certification for a fee alone. Consequently, the public could be misled.

For further information, contact Phyllis Culp at 415/241-2118.

Practical training of law students fee change

The Board of Governors has changed the certification fee for the Practical Training of Law Students program. Beginning Oct. 1, the certification fee will increase from $40 to $55, and the $10 recertification fee will be eliminated.

New applications reflecting the new fees will be available in August.

Further information is available from Lorna Maynard at 415/241-2115.

Law office audits available from bar at a discount

Slots are still open for any State Bar member interested in a law office management audit at a cut rate. Sponsored by the bar's Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMA), the confidential audits are intended to help solo and small-firm practitioners identify ways of improving their operations.

The cost is $500 per firm, plus an additional $100 for each lawyer in the firm. Solo practitioners will be charged a flat $500 fee. Space is limited.

For further information, call Lauren McCurdy at 415/241-2107.

Arbitrator sustains $1 Hudson deduction

The 1995 Hudson deduction of $1 has been sustained by arbitrator William Rule.

Fee challenge arbitrations are conducted annually as a result of challenges by California attorneys who seek an increase in the allowed deduction of their membership fees.

The bar's Board of Governors calculates the annual deduction, permitted under the Supreme Court's Keller ruling.

New pamphlet for solos

A new pamphlet outlining services and benefits for solo and small-firm practitioners is available from the State Bar .

Free copies are available by calling Jill Okimoto at 415/561-8874.

Board revises standards for mandatory fee arb 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.

Bar board to meet in Los Angeles

The State Bar Board of Governors will hold its next meeting July 19-20 at the bar offices in Los Angeles. Committees will meet July 19 and the full board will meet at 9 a.m. July 20. An agenda is available from the bar's secretary at 415/561-8200.

The Los Angeles office is located at 1149 South Hill St.