Here is your December 2018 eNews from the Business Law Section (“BLS”):
I'd like to begin my final eNews Chair address of 2018 by highlighting last month’s California Lawyers Association (CLA) Welcome Reception in Century City that drew over two hundred lawyers interested in the CLA, its Sections, and the benefits membership provides. We include a few pictures of the Reception in this edition of the e-News both to share its success, and to entice you to attend an upcoming CLA Welcome Reception in your area.
As we near the close of 2018, you may notice a change in how you receive your 2019 State Bar renewal notices. You might continue to receive your individual dues statements via e-mail or regular mail. However, many lawyers’ dues statements are now being sent directly to their respective organizations’ agency billing departments, for group payment. As many of you no longer will have the chance to “check the box” to continue your membership in the BLS, it is
important that you reach out to your agency biller and let them know that you would like to continue your enrollment in the BLS next year. Even more, now is the time to encourage those attorneys in your networks who may not be current BLS members to enroll in the BLS in 2019.
As a reminder, the BLS has more than 8,000 members, including public and private practice attorneys, in-house counsel, judges, government officials, law professors and through our active membership campaign, are recruiting younger lawyers and diverse attorneys to make our Section more vibrant and representative of our State. The BLS, through its Standing Committees, also publishes definitive legal reports, opinions and practices guides, and presents cutting-edge educational programs available at your fingertips.
For instance, as part of the California Lawyers Association (CLA), the BLS is proud to provide CLE custom-made for its membership’s varied practices. From live programming to online CLE webinars, the BLS provides high-quality, cutting-edge content which fits your busy schedule. The BLS also offers low-cost self-study tests, often based on articles from its Business Law News (BLN), to help you comply with MCLE requirements (look for a self-study article in collaboration with the California Young Lawyers Association soon!). Finally, did you know that the BLS offers “CLEtoGO” podcasts, which are downloadable audio seminars you can listen to on your portable device or on your computer?
In sum, membership in the BLS offers significant benefits that will enhance both your personal and professional development for years to come. I hope that you will join me in enrolling in the Business Law Section for 2019, and further our membership campaign by sharing the membership benefits you find most valuable with non-member attorneys in your network. I further hope that you will find a way to get involved in the Section, as that is best way to take advantage of the myriad benefits our BLS provides.
Monique D. Jewett-Brewster
Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation (San Jose)
Chair, Business Law Section
California Lawyers Association
Law, finance, and technology are rapidly converging through the adoption of cryptocurrencies and advancements in distributed ledger technology. This Symposium will bring together different perspectives to discuss how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology impact our approach to currencies and finance, and their potential to revolutionize the practice of law. The goal is to enable lawyers, regulators, consumers, and the financial technology sector to make better decisions by demystifying these technologies and sifting through the hype to foster an open dialogue. Registration
can be found here.
Offering 1 hour of participatory MCLE credit and 1 ethics credit, this webinar discusses the comprehensive set of 69 new Rules of Professional Conduct that became effective November 1, 2018 and now govern the conduct of attorneys in California. This presentation focuses on those Rules that implement controversial or important changes to the current Rules or impose new obligations in California. All attorneys in the State should be aware of these changes. 1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 ethics credit is offered.
Neil J. Wertlieb, former Chair of the California State Bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct; current Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee; and General Editor of Ballantine & Sterling: California Corporation Laws, will present.
The BLS is comprised of 15 Standing Committees whose members review and propose legislation,
draft eBulletins, BLN articles, and practice guides, and speak at live and webinar programs.
The committees meet between 5 and 10 times each year, usually by telephone.
Committee members develop valuable personal and business relations with other practitioners
in their respective fields of practice.
To qualify for membership, a practitioner must be a member of the BLS and have practiced law at least five years. Each committee is comprised of 16-30 members, selected for 3-4 year terms.
(Note: Existing members were automatically appointed to the same committee for their remaining term under the CLA. Applications are only required for new members or for those whose terms expire in 2018.)
Applications can be found here.
Please send the completed application to John Buelter: firstname.lastname@example.org
In commercial loan agreements, borrowers and lenders often agree that, upon an event of default, the borrower will pay a higher interest rate. The higher rate is intended to compensate the lender for the additional risk and expenses upon default. In an opinion that commentators predict will have a substantial impact on the real estate lending industry, a bankruptcy court has held that a default rate of interest in a commercial loan agreement constituted an unenforceable penalty under California law.
Professor Emeritus Dan Schechter of Loyola Law School analyzes this important decision in a November 16, 2018 eBulletin for the Insolvency Law Committee.
Read the decision here.
The California Supreme Court has held that even though the applicable statute imposes no interest cap on consumer loans in excess of $2500, a class action may be prosecuted to challenge high interest rates as unconscionable. [De La Torre vs. Cashcall, Inc., 2018 Westlaw 3827233 (Cal.).]
A consumer lender offered loans in excess of $2500 at rates between 96 percent and 135 percent per year. A group of consumers brought a putative class action in federal court, claiming that those rates were unconscionable and in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the lender, reasoning that since the Legislature had placed no interest cap on consumer loans in excess of $2500, a finding of unconscionability would intrude upon the province of the Legislature.
The Ninth Circuit then certified this question to the California Supreme Court: “Can the interest rate on consumer loans of $2500 or more governed by California Finance Code § 22303, render the loans unconscionable under California Finance Code § 22302?” The Supreme Court answered the question in the affirmative. Professor Dan Schechter analyzes this important decision in a November 27, 2018, eBulletin for the Insolvency Law Committee.
Read the decision here.
The Business Litigation Committee recently issued an eBulletin examining a new law that will take into effect on January 1, 2019:
On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 820 which creates Code of Civil Procedure §1001, effective January 1, 2019. The new statute prohibits a provision in a settlement agreement that prevents disclosure of factual information related to a claim regarding (1) an act of sexual assault, (2) an act of sexual harassment as defined under Civil Code §51.9, (3) an act of workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, failure to prevent an act of workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, or an act of retaliation against a person for reporting harassment or discrimination based on sex, and (4) an act of harassment or discrimination based on sex, or an act of retaliation against a person for reporting harassment or discrimination based on sex, by the owner of a housing accommodation. Section 1001 applies to prohibit such provisions in settlement agreements in both civil actions and administrative proceedings. As a result, any provision in a settlement agreement entered on or after January 1, 2019 that prevents disclosure of the above-referenced information will be deemed null and void as a matter of public policy.
The clear impact of this extension is that parties may not use settlement agreements as a shelter to keep factual information regarding allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation confidential. As such, parties must ensure that settlement agreements entered on or after January 1, 2019 do not prevent disclosure of factual information relating to sexual assault, sexual harassment or discrimination.
Courtesy of CEB, we are bringing you selected legal developments in areas of California business law that are covered by CEB’s publications. This month’s feature is from the November 2018 update to Trade Secrets Practice in California. References are to the book’s section numbers. See CEB’s BLS Landing Page for special discounts for Business Law Section members. The most significant legal developments affecting trade secrets practice in California since the last update include judicial decisions on trade secrets misappropriation, reverse engineering, losing trade secrets protection, forum non conveniens, Cal. Labor Code § 925, and more.
Business Law Section
California Lawyers Association
180 Howard Street, Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94105
The State Bar of California is working with legal groups to coordinate pro bono opportunities in response to the fires around the state. The Bar needs help staffing a legal hotline and resource table at disaster recovery centers and providing assistance in pro bono cases. The Bar will provide online training and technical assistance. Further information can be found on The State Bar of California’s website.
If you know of other opportunities for pro bono help from BLS members, please contact Everett L. Green, Everett.L.Green@usdoj.gov.
The Business Law News (BLN) is seeking articles of general interst to business law practicioners. Publishing in the BLN is a terrific opportunity both to influence the discsoure in areas in which you practice and to market yourself and your skill set. Please contact the BLN’s editor-in-chief Jerome A. Grossman, email@example.com for further information.
Did you know that the BLS maintains a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook where BLS posts regular updates about new cases, new regulations, key legislative developments, and news and events from the BLS’s Standing Committees? What you may not know is that you can not only send items to the BLS to post or tweet, but also suggest items from your own social media pages for the BLS to re-post, re-tweet, or like. Doing so expands the reach of what you have to say to everyone who likes or follows the BLS on its various social media platforms, and may result in the BLS following you! Please submit your suggested items for consideration or direct any questions to BLS Social Media Coordinator, Dennis Wickham (Wickham@scmv.com) and join the ever-expanding discussion!
Everett L. Green, Editor-in-Chief
Dennis Wickham, Contributing Editor
Corey R. Weber, Vice Chair of Publications and Contributing Editor
Monique D. Jewett-Brewster, BLS Chair and Contributing Editor