California Bar Journal
spacer.gif (810 bytes)


spacer.gif (810 bytes)
Need member info? Look on the net

The State Bar's membership records inquiry line (415/561-8877), which provided assistance to more than 250,000 callers last year, is no longer staffed by a live operator. Callers seeking information about California attorneys now are directed to member records online (MRO) at Those who require information or services, such as how to change a name or address or how to receive a certificate of standing, may select options from a voice menu.

A reduced staff in the membership office is maintaining the database in as timely a manner as possible; the Internet site is updated continuously.

The bar’s MRO service had more than 700,000 record reads last year. Information now includes a statement that a member does or does not have a record of discipline.

If additional information is sought, instructions are provided for sending a written request for a certificate of standing or requesting a copy of the filing from the State Bar Court. There is a fee for these services.

The changes were made because of the bar’s near insolvency. Also shut down are the discipline department’s complaint intake line and the ethics hotline.

Emergency ethics faxline available during crisis

The Los Angeles firm of Karp-man & Associates is providing an emergency ethics faxline as a free service to the profession. The firm is fielding short one-page questions of a hypothetical nature in an effort to help attorneys avoid ethical pitfalls due to the closing of the State Bar’s ethics hotline.

It attempts to respond to inquiries within 24 hours.

The fax number is 310/887-3901.

Diane Karpman represents attorneys who face bar discipline. She practices with Joanne Robbins, a former State Bar Court judge.

Complaints about attorney misconduct in writing

Because the State Bar’s complaint hotline is shut down, consumers wishing to complain about an attorney must now submit a written complaint.

People who are having a problem with an attorney may still call 1-800/843-9053 and will hear a taped message providing various options.

Loan approved to keep trial courts open

Because the legislature had not approved a budget, Gov. Pete Wilson signed urgency legislation last month to provide a $90 million loan so California’s trial courts can meet payroll expenses and continue operations.

The loan will get the courts through the first two months of the 1998-99 fiscal year. Without the funding, courts in several counties would not have been able to meet their mid-July payroll, forcing possible closure.

The money is an advance from the state’s general fund.

Board members sought for rural legal assistance

Attorneys interested in serving on the board of directors of California Rural Legal Assistance are invited to submit an application to the State Bar.

One two-year term position is open. Deadline for the applications is Sept. 11.

CRLA’s 45-member board meets four times a year.

Applicants must be members of the California bar, be knowledgeable about legal services to the poor and support the purposes of the Legal Services Corporation Act.

Interested attorneys should submit a letter of application and a resume to Judy Garlow, Office of Legal Services, State Bar of California, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498. Information is available by calling 415/561-8249.

ALJ conference slated

The annual meeting and conference of the National Associa-tion of Administrative Law Judges will be held in Portland, Ore., from Oct. 10-14.

With a theme of “Tools for the 21st Century,” the conference also is geared to involve practitioners who represent clients before federal and state agencies.

For details about the conference, visit the Oregon association’s website at> or call Shirley Gunter at 503/370-6046.

New rules on trial court administration

The Judicial Council has adopted a comprehensive series of court rules that establish a decentralized system of trial court management in California.

The rules cover general principles of trial court management, personnel plans, budget management and the role of the Judicial Council and the administrative office of the courts in managing the judicial branch budget.

The rules will be published in the Supreme Court’s California Official Reports.

Assistance provided for court unification

Following passage of a constitutional amendment permitting superior and municipal courts to merge in each California county, the Administrative Office of the Courts is providing assistance to courts to enable them to respond to the measure.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 4, which appeared on the June ballot as Proposition 220, permits judges within each county to create a single superior court if a majority of both the county’s superior and municipal judges so vote or if all the judges give written consent.

The measure passed with 64 percent of the vote.

The AOC set up a toll-free telephone hotline for the courts to provide them with information about implementing Prop 220. It also has sent written materials about the measure to judges and court administrators throughout the state.

By mid-July, judges in 34 counties formally reported that they voted to unify their superior and municipal courts into a single superior court. Twelve more counties reported their intention to vote on unification in the near future.

Phone calls to State Bar

Because of the layoffs at the State Bar, many of the phone numbers listed on page 17 will now be answered by a recording.