Tag-Archive for » California State Bar «

I just read a great blog at The Estrin Report, written by fellow paralegal, Chere Estrin, called “Still Thinking about Licensing Paralegals? Hogwash.  Old School Thinking.”

I am still on the fence about licensing paralegals.  There are many good reasons to do so but there are almost as many bad reasons.  In Ms. Estrin’s blog, (you can read the entire blog here) she makes the point that: “Licensing may establish minimum qualifications, but that won’t necessarily help you land the job. Attorneys will still rely on your resume to identify specific skills and work experience when they’re considering you for a position.”

Ms. Estrin believes the paralegal field will “follow similar suit to nursing practitioners and physician assistants, as shown below:

  • The Attorney Practitioner: BA/BS degree; graduate school; 1 or 2 years of law school; able to perform previous attorney assignments: perhaps take a deposition; assess a case; prepare certain documents; appear in front of a judge;  (in King County, Seattle, this has been done with paralegals for years on default judgments and more).
  • The Certified Paralegal: BA/BS; paralegal certificate; required number of years in the field; plus sits for certification exam.
  • The Paralegal: BA/BS degree plus paralegal certificate.
  • The Paralegal Assistant: An AA degree plus paralegal certificate.
  • The Paralegal Clerk: Either an AA degree, no paralegal certificate or paralegal certificate and no college degree. Cannot move up unless an AA degree and paralegal certificate are reached.”

She further believes the “field will stratify according to entry requirements, education, years of experience and expertise which will in turn limit the types of duties a paralegal of certain ranks will be allowed to do. Right now, there is only entry-level, mid-level, senior level and paralegal manager in most firms. Paralegals are paid according to years in the field, modeled after the associate program. They are not paid for performance. Right now, a 10 year paralegal can be performing at the two-year level but paid at the 10 year market level.” I don’t entirely agree with this last sentence, but I do agree that the majority of paralegals are paid based on their years of experience, (but in the area I work in, their knowledge is also considered for their salary.)

I do agree that paralegals should be required to attain more education, sophisticated assignments and years in the field before they can even be considered for certification, let alone licensing.

So, to license or not license paralegals. Who will pay for this licensing, the paralegal or the attorney they work with/for and who will monitor the licensing?  The State Bar? I wonder how my fellow paralegals and even the attorneys we work for feel about licensing paralegals.  Please let me know by completing the quick survey below.  It will only take a second or two and then back to work you go!  Many thanks.

 

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share

Ouch!  That has to hurt!  Running for a judicial seat and then sanctioned and reported to the State Bar.  This just happened to attorney Judy Conard, who practices in Lake County, California.

The First Appellate Court found the appeal to be frivolous and not only sanctioned Ms. Conard $6,000, but issued $15,000 in sanctions against her client as well.

Last October, Theodore Parfet, who lives in Michigan, appealed an order that he pay the attorney fees for Amy Tucker, the Respondent in the Family Law case, incurred while she opposed his motions to modify child custody, visitation and child support, according to the decision, which can be read here.

Ms. Conard said they appealed the amount of attorneys’ fees, which at nearly $80,000 were in excess of what the interim fees were to be.  The three appellate justices found “the degree of objective frivolousness and delay is extremely high,” and that “pursuing a meritless appeal of an attorney fee award under the circumstances of this case flies in the face of the very purpose of the Family Code attorney fees statutes.”  Further, they found that Conard had a professional responsibility not to pursue a frivolous appeal just because her client instructed her to do so, the justices said Conard violated her duties by facilitating the appeal “and by advancing arguments which exceed the bounds of both common sense and sound advocacy.”

The justices also stated “We join other courts in recognizing that the respondent is not theonly party damaged by a frivolous appeal.” ‘Others with bona fide disputes, as well as the taxpayers, are prejudiced by the wasteful diversion of an appellate court’s limited resources.’  The handling of this appeal has imposed a burden on this court.”

 To add insult to injury, Ms. Conard and the court clerk were each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur.  Whether charges will be filed by the bar against Ms. Conard has yet to be seen.  The lesson here for attorneys?  Beware of filing an appeal just because your client wants you to, be sure that there is merit to the appeal, it could cost you, not only monetarily but professionally.
Enhanced by Zemanta
GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share

As a Paralegal, sometimes it is left to us to figure out what to do when the attorney we work for is disabled or heaven forbid, dies while we are in their employ.  I don’t know if either of these has happened while you have been working for an attorney, but it has happened to me and it can be downright scary to figure out what to do.  Clients and heirs of California attorneys who die or become disabled can be left with the same sorts of issues faced by families of an individual who does not leave a will or living trust behind: what happens to client files and any funds that may be on deposit in a trust account? With the approval of a surrogacy agreement last month, the State Bar Board of Governors made it both easy and free to avoid such problems. The first to take advantage of the new “Agreement to Close Law Practice in the Future” was bar President Bill Hebert, who designated his law partner, James Quadra, to administer his practice in the event Hebert could not continue to work.

The sample agreement, available to all lawyers, spells out the responsibilities of the primary attorney and his or her successor.  Currently, if a lawyer dies or becomes incapacitated without having made any arrangements about the future of his or her practice, the State Bar seeks a superior court order to take over the practice.  It collects the attorney’s files and attempts to return those files to the client, although it does not try to find a new attorney to take over cases.

However, if a lawyer designates a successor using the new sample contract, the designated surrogate goes to court for appointment as the practice administrator who can take control and dispose of the practice. A lengthy list of duties is part of the contract and includes the ability to open mail, become a signatory on bank accounts, notify clients and transfer files, pay bills and handle funds, and accept the original attorney’s clients and cases. The practice administrator also will have the power to sell the practice.

The agreement includes a requirement that clients must be notified in engagement letters that a successor attorney has been designated.  Murray Greenberg, who for 15 years has handled State Bar takeovers of attorneys’ practices, whether for death, disability or discipline, said the numbers vary from year to year. He’s seen an uptick recently, probably due to the graying of the profession in general, he said.  He shares Oldman’s belief that many attorneys aren’t well-prepared for the unforeseen: “No one expects to become disabled.”

The California State Bar also has guidelines for closing or selling a law practice, which can be found here. As a paralegal, we have lots of responsibilities and while you may not think this should be one of them, I believe we should make sure that our attorney(s) know about this contract availability and that they make sure that their clients and yes, even their paralegals are assured of how things will be handled in the event of their death or disability.

Enhanced by Zemanta
GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share

California lawyers were required to pay their State Bar dues by March 1, but a board of governors committee voted last month that penalties for nonpayment would not attach until March 31. Penalties for noncompliance with MCLE requirements also will not take effect until the same date.

After vetoing the bar’s fee bill in October, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a later bill in January, authorizing collection of the same fees — $410 for active lawyers and $125 for inactive members.

The dues payment deadline was moved from Feb. 1 to March 1. At the same time, the MCLE compliance deadline for members of Group 1 — those whose last names begin with A-G — remained Feb. 1.

However, due to confusion over the deadlines and the late mailing of bills, the board decided to offer a grace period — through March 30 — before assessing any penalties.

Active attorneys who have not paid their fees by March 30 will be penalized $100 and inactive lawyers who pay late will owe an additional $30. Those who miss the MCLE deadline will be penalized $75.

Failure to pay dues or comply with continuing education requirements can result in suspension from practice.

Dues can be paid online by logging on to calbar.ca.gov.  For more information about bar dues and MCLE compliance is available by calling the Member Services Center at 1-888-800-3400.

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share
The State Bar's main office in San Francisco i...
Image via Wikipedia

On March 11, 2010, the California State Bar will hold a hearing asking the public for their comments on revisions to a few of the Professional Rules of Conduct. The Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California are attorney conduct rules, the violation of which will subject an attorney to discipline. Pursuant to statute, rule amendment proposals may be formulated by the State Bar for submission to the Supreme Court of California for approval. The State Bar has assigned a special commission to conduct a thorough study of the rules and to recommend comprehensive amendments. If you are interested in speaking, or know someone who is, they can click here to complete the application to speak at the hearing. You must submit your request by March 8, 2010 to be considered for speaking at the hearing.

The following 12 rules or issues are being reviewed.

Rule Title
Rule 1.0.1 Terminology [1-100]
Rule 1.4.1 Insurance Disclosure [3-410]
Rule 1.11 Special Conflicts for Government Employees [N/A]
Rule 1.17 Sale of a Law Practice [2-300]
Rule 1.18 Duties to Prospective Client [N/A]
Rule 3.9 Non-adjudicative Proceedings [N/A]
Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others [N/A]
Rule 4.4 Respect for Rights of 3rd Persons [N/A]
Rule 6.1 Voluntary Pro Bono Service [N/A]
Rule 6.2 Accepting Appointments [N/A]
Rule 6.5 Limited Legal Services Programs [1-650]
Rule 8.2 Judicial and Legal Officials [1-700]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share

All California attorneys must provide an e-mail address to the State Bar beginning Feb. 1, 2010, under a new rule of court approved by the Supreme Court. Inactive lawyers over 70 are exempt from the new requirement.

Under Rule 9.7, all members of the State Bar must create an online profile through the bar’s secure membership system. Currently, 150,000 lawyers already have done so and they need do nothing further.

But on Feb. 1, attorneys who move will be able to change their address and phone number only through My State Bar Profile. Online address change capability has been available for several years and is widely used. In 2008, 58,000 address changes were processed, 40,000 online.

Lawyers are statutorily required to keep their addresses updated within 30 days of a move.

The private e-mails will be recorded in the bar’s database and will be used only for official communications, such as courtesy reminders related to deadlines and updates of new regulations that affect members. Attorneys also will have the option to provide a public e-mail address, which will be available to the public on the bar’s Web site.

Notification of disciplinary or regulatory proceedings that may lead to a loss of license will continue to be sent through regular mail.

In addition to the 150,000 private e-mails the bar now has, another 30,000 lawyers have provided a public address. About 40,000 lawyers have not provided an e-mail address.

Although not required by the rule, the bar’s administrative policy will provide an exemption to inactive lawyers over 70. In addition, lawyers who do not have an e-mail address may apply for an exemption by completing a form provided by the bar.

The above article was posted in the California Bar Journal and is provided here as a reminder to all California attorneys, which means you the Paralegal will need to stay on top of this for your attorneys. After all, isn’t that part of your job? To stay on top of any and all information that affects the attorney you work for?

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Share