|Multidiscipline partners backed
|ABA commission lends unanimous support to change in legal
|By NANCY McCARTHY
|In a bow to marketplace realities, an American Bar Association commission
unanimously recommended that lawyers be permitted to join as partners with professionals
from other disciplines.
The proposal represents a significant break with existing U.S.
law and requires a revision of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Before such a
change could take effect in California, the Supreme Court would have to enact a new rule
of professional conduct, a prospect which could take years.
"These changes would allow clients more options in where they obtain legal
services, and lawyers more choices in how they serve clients, but maintain the core values
of the legal profession and the protections those values guarantee the public and
clients," said Sherwin P. Simmons of Miami, chair of the ABA Commission on
The commission's proposal would permit fee-sharing between lawyers and other owners of
multidisciplinary practices, commonly known as MDPs. Legal ethics rules would apply to
those practices, which would be subject to court regulation.
San Francisco tax attorney Joanne Garvey, who served as an ABA liai-
See ABA COMMISSION
|Poll shows 2 to 1 objection to MCLE
|By NANCY McCARTHY
|Two out of three California attorneys who responded to an informal Bar Journal
survey believe continuing legal education should not be mandatory for the state's licensed
attorneys. By a smaller margin, lawyers said they would take 36 hours of continuing
education even if it were not required.
The survey in last month's California Bar
Journal - which drew responses from 4,172 lawyers, 2.5 percent of the membership - also
showed the following trends:
Sixty-three percent consider the present
requirement of 36 hours every three years to be too many hours.
The vast majority of respondents oppose exemptions
from the regulations, with the most opposition - 85 percent - directed at elected and
appointed state officials.
Forty-seven percent of the respondents left blank
or answered "none" to a question on special requirements in ethics, bias, stress
reduction and law practice management, but nearly the same percentage said they support an
The quality of the courses produced about a 50-50
split, with "unsatisfactory" edging out by less than a
See BAR JOURNAL POLL
|High court weighs appeal of bar's program
|By NANCY McCARTHY
|More than two years after a California appellate court found the State
Bar's MCLE program unconstitutional, the Supreme Court seemed receptive to arguments last
month that the educational requirements should stand.
The justices expressed misgivings
about the content of some continuing education offerings and concerns about technicalities
of the current exemptions, but appeared reluctant to "throw out the baby with the
Retired attorney Lew Warden, who lost his license in 1993 for failing to complete his
MCLE requirement, argued that the program violates his "fundamental right" to
practice and that the exemptions of five groups of attorneys violate the equal protection
clause of the constitution.
The exemptions - for retired judges, full-time law professors, legislators and elected
state officers, and federal and state attorneys - were the basis for a First District
Court of Appeal ruling in 1997 that the program is unconstitutional. There is no rational
basis, the court said, for the exemptions.
See SUPREME COURT
|The State Bar has moved its San Francisco headquarters to 180 Howard St.
The main telephone number is 415/538-2000. The Bar Journal's new number is 415/538-2504.
complete telephone guide appears on page 15.