The e-magazine of the Solo and Small Firm Section of the California Lawyers Association
By Ritzel Starleigh Ngo
Dear Solo and Small Firm Section Members:
It is already February! We hope that your start to the New Year is going well.
Our section has identified several subcommittees that you should be aware of. We want you to join us to participate and share your ideas. Thank you to the members who have already reached out to me and to our executive committee. The ideas and feedback you provide our section provide direction that drives the way we can fulfill your needs as a small law firm and/or a solo practice.
The subcommittees of the Solo and Small Firm section, including a brief description, and e-mail contact person, are as follows:
We hope that you will consider joining a subcommittee or reach out to us so that we can help serve the needs of your practice.
Please keep a look out for our live program e-blasts and upcoming e-newsletters which will include executive committee member visits to your local bar association, live MCLE programs, and new webinars.
We are looking forward to an active Winter, and educational Spring, ahead.
All the best,
Deadline: March 1, 2018
The Solo and Small Firm Section Executive Committee of the California Lawyers Association is looking for energetic, dynamic attorneys to join their board. This group oversees many educational programs for solo and small firm practitioners throughout California. If you have any interest in speaking at State Bar functions or writing for our sections publications, this is a wonderful opportunity. Applications are currently available on the California Lawyers Association’s webpage.
The application deadline of March 1, 2018 is fast approaching. For an application, and more information about the appointment process, click here.
By Robert M. Klein, Esq., A Law Practice Devoted to Helping Personal Injury Victims
Okay it is 2018 and my question for you is how is your digital life going to change? I have one suggestion. Have you thought of integrating podcasts into your world? This article will provide you with a number of podcasts to consider.
Last year, I heard talk about the “new the podcast revolution.” Frankly, this is not a new revolution. I started listening to podcasts in 2007 or 2008 when I happened upon ESPN’s fantasy focus baseball podcast hosted by Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz. Once the baseball season ended, I needed new material and started searching. I soon discovered a whole world of podcasts geared to lawyers and others associated with the legal profession. The podcast world has expanded over the years with many more options today.
The first legal podcast I started listening to is entitled “This Week in Law.” The podcast has been hosted by Denise Howell, for as long as I have listened, with other hosts who have rotated through the years. The podcast focuses on the intersection of law and technology, including subjects in copyright, patent and other areas of legal technology. The show attracts highly qualified guests and though close to 2 hours in length, the podcast contains great content. Also, this podcast qualifies for continuing legal education in, among other states, California.
A second legal podcast to which I subscribe is entitled “Legal Talk Network.” This podcast is actually an aggregator of a variety of individual podcasts which are produced and distributed through the legal talk network. These podcasts contain content for lawyers, paralegals, law students and the topics vary from legal news, technology, marketing, solo practice to legal books to read and much more. The podcasts vary in length and in content. The podcasts have a high production value and I find it them to be an excellent choice for information on the overall practice of law and legal news. As a side note, I have heard podcasts which featured as a guest the former chair of the Solo and Small Firm section, Megan Zavieh. And I don't want to say any one podcast is better than another, but if you want a mix of humor and education, I suggest you listen to “Thinking Like a Lawyer.”
Other legal related podcasts worth mentioning include Ted talks-law. A podcast from Stanford entitled Center for Internet and Society, which is an entertainment law focused podcast. There is a podcast entitled Amicus, which examines US Supreme Court cases. There is a fairly new podcast (it just finished its second season) called More Perfect. This is produced by Radiolab and More Perfect episodes range from 30 minutes to over an hour and take an in-depth approach to U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the impact on our society. Episode 1 grabbed my attention and I have been an avid listener ever since. A podcast focused on the Supreme Court is entitled First Mondays. It discusses cases and issues currently before the Court.
Posted on January 17, 2018 by Julie Brook, Esq., CEB
Reprinted by permission.
Attorneys maintain files on their clients’ cases with documents (and sometimes other property) that clients have provided in connection with those cases. These files have to be returned to the client, at a client’s request, when the attorney’s “employment has terminated,” subject to “any protective order or nondisclosure agreement.” Cal Rules of Prof Cond 3–700(D)(1). Given this rule, it’s imperative that attorneys establish an office policy on the retention and disposition (including destruction) of client files, and notify clients of this policy.
Attorneys should advise clients of their file retention policy at the outset of their representation and send a reminder at its conclusion. The policy can be discussed either within the attorney-client fee agreement itself or in a letter discussing a client’s case at the outset of representation. In either situation, this sample exhibit can be appended to the document:
FILE RETENTION POLICY
This law office generally maintains a client’s file for a period of _ _ [specify period, e.g., 10] _ _ years following the completion of an attorney’s work on a case, after which the file is shredded and discarded without further notice. [Certain of my files are kept in off-site storage facilities, and retrieval of them requires at least _ _ [specify period, e.g., 5] _ _ business days.]
In the following cases, however, files will be retained for a longer period, but normally not more than _ _ [specify period, e.g., 20]_ _ years: _ _ [specify categories of cases, e.g., (1) cases involving a minor child or otherwise in which the statute of limitations in bringing a legal action is tolled; (2) wills and unexecuted estate plans; (3) unperformed agreements; (4) cases involving items required to be retained by law; and (5) outstanding judgments and orders] _ _.
This office fully complies with California law on the return of “client papers and property,” as defined in California Rules of Professional Conduct 3–700(D). At a client’s request, all such papers and property will be returned to the client, absent a nondisclosure agreement or protective order, provided that the request is made in writing within the file retention period stated in this document, or as otherwise agreed to in writing by the attorney and client.
If you use an appended exhibit like this, be sure to refer to it in the body of the fee agreement or letter.
For more on the retention and disposition of client files, including a sample letter to the client on the file retention policy, check out CEB’s California Client Communications Manual: Sample Letters and Forms, chap 8. This manual includes more than 65 sample letters and essential forms to take you from initial client contact through conclusion of the case.
Question: I am working on my business plan for 2018. In making plans for the year, what is the difference between a resolution and a goal?
Answer: A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort—an aim, target, or desired result. People tend to have more success meeting realistic goals than sticking with their resolutions. Successful goals are measurable, realistic, and attainable. Examples:
A resolution: Stop eating processed foods.
A goal: Lose 10 pounds by July 1st.
A resolution: Increase sales.
A goal: Increase sales by 5% over the next 6 months.
“Question of the Month” is a new addition to the ePractitioner. We encourage members to forward their questions—about their practice or about the law—to the section and we will endeavor to provide answers. Submit questions to email@example.com
By Marilyn A. Monahan, Esq., Monahan Law Office
Amended Rules of Professional Conduct: The comprehensive review of the Rules of Professional Conduct by the Board of Trustees has concluded. On March 30, 2017, the State Bar submitted the proposed rules to the California Supreme Court. The proposed rules are currently under review by the Court. The proposed amendments do not become operative until they are approved by the Supreme Court. The State Bar notes that, “We are not aware of any deadline for the Court to act on the State Bar’s request.”
New Workplace Laws: Focus on Solo & Small Firms: In 2017, the California legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, a significant number of bills impacting the workplace. These bills generally take effect January 1, 2018. Of these, the following may be of particular interest to solo and small firm lawyers:
A.B. 1008 – Ban the Box (Ch. 789): A.B. 1008 applies to employers with 5 or more employees, and prohibits an employer, with certain exceptions, from inquiring about or considering a job applicant’s conviction history prior to a conditional offer of employment. The bill also, among other requirements, describes the individualized assessment employers must make before denying employment on the basis of conviction history. The bill adds section 12952 to the Government Code. Employers should update their employment applications and interview processes.
A.B. 168 – Employers: Salary Information (Ch. 688): A.B. 168 prohibits all employers from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and requires an employer to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant upon reasonable request, among other provisions. The bill adds section 432.3 to the Labor Code. Employers should update their employment applications and interview processes.
S.B. 63 - Parental Leave (Ch. 686): S.B. 63 enacts the New Parent Leave Act. The bill requires employers of 20 or more employees to allow an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave to bond with a new child. The bill does not apply to employees eligible for CFRA and FMLA. The employer must also maintain and pay for an employee’s health coverage during this time. The bill adds section 12945.6 to the Government Code. Employers should update, as necessary, their employee handbooks and health plan eligibility terms, and should draft appropriate leave forms and tracking mechanisms.
Minimum Wage: Effective January 1, 2018, the California minimum wage is increasing: (a) for employers with 25 employees or less, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour; (b) for employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $11.00 per hour.
Note: All Superior Courts updated their local rules for 2018; go to the court’s website to ascertain what changes have been made in your county courts.
Amador: The Superior Court is inviting comments on its revised local form for requesting a discovery conference under CCP §2016.080. The comment period ends 45 days after January 11, 2018.
Kings: The Superior Court is hiring a staff attorney. See the court’s website for information.
Monterey: Civil Ex Parte calendar time is changing from 2 pm on Thursdays to 10 am on Thursdays, effective January 4, 2018. The calendar will be heard in Department 13.
Napa: The Superior Court is hiring a Court Commissioner. See the court’s website for information.
San Bernardino: The Superior Court will open two new fully-staffed criminal courtrooms in the San Bernardino Justice Center and Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse. The Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse has also recently implemented lobby weapons screening for all visitors, including private attorneys.
Santa Barbara: Highway 101 is now open and the Superior Court has resumed regular operations, effective January 22, 2018. The cost of e-filing has increased from $3.50 to $5.00 per envelope.
Santa Clara: E-filing for all civil cases will be mandatory, effective February 13, 2018. See the court’s website for information.
Sierra: The Superior Court Clerk’s counter hours have been reduced to 9 am to noon and 1 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, effective January 2, 2018.
Stanislaus: The public filing window hours have been reduced on Thursdays from 8:15 am until noon; the hours on other weekdays remain 8:15 am to 4 pm.
Board of Trustees: The California Supreme Court recently appointed Michael G. Colantuono and Jason Lee as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the State Bar of California's Board of Trustees.
Legal Help for People Impacted by the California Fires: The State Bar has posted on its website information to help people impacted by the recent California fires. The help includes hotlines for free legal assistance:
Two additional hotlines are also serving Napa and Sonoma counties:
CLA Leadership: The CLA held elections for its first year of operation. The inaugural leaders include:
Heather L. Rosing
Frequently Asked Questions: Want to know more about the new California Lawyers Association (CLA)? The CLA has posted FAQs on its website explaining more about the CLA and how it impacts you:
A: To allow the State Bar to focus on admissions and discipline pursuant to the legislative mandate of SB 36, effective January 1, 2018 while allowing the Sections to focus on educational programs, publications and events.
A: A new separate, independent entity, The California Lawyers Association (CLA) has been formed. On January 1, 2018, the Sections will officially become the CLA.
A: Your current membership will automatically transfer to the CLA until it expires at the end of the current bar year. Make sure to renew your membership in one or more Sections on the State Bar dues statement as usual, or log into My State Bar Profile. You should receive your annual dues statement from the State Bar on or after December 1, 2017.
A: Simply log into your current My State Bar Profile and join a Section. You can also join a new Section (and renew current Section membership) when paying your annual State Bar dues. The State Bar will be emailing out the annual dues statements on December 1, 2017.
A: No. Section dues will remain the same through 2018. Log into My State Bar Profile to view your current Section dues and renew today!
A: No. The State Bar’s licensing fee is set by the California Legislature and is expected to remain the same for 2018.
A Yes, but as a voluntary bar association, the CLA will have more flexibility and less restrictions, enabling the Sections to expand, innovate and offer Section members new and innovative publications, programming and other events.
A: Yes. You may verify your Section(s) membership by logging into My State Bar Profile and after January 1, 2018, you may also log into your profile via the new CLA website.
This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit in Competency Issues. You must register in advance to participate.
What does it mean to your alcohol level if you have two beers, say at a happy hour? Well, how big are you? What kind of beers were they? What was the alcohol percentage? Learn about the effect of alcohol on your body. Speaker: Eric Ganci
This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit in Legal Ethics. You must register in advance to participate.
Fee Agreements not only set the scope of representation in an attorney/client relationship, but also provides protections for both the attorney and the client in case a dispute arises. Learn from an experienced expert on what should be included so you can avoid costly claims against you and your firm. Speaker: Marc Adelman
Liens are a minefield of ethical problems for attorneys. Find out how to spot a lien in many areas (PI, WC, Government and many others) and what rules apply to the reimbursement of liens. You will go away with useful ways to maximize your client’s recovery while minimizing your stress. Speaker: Eleanor Southers
When you pay your dues, don’t forget to renew your membership in the Solo and Small Firm Section. Section members are entitled to 6 free hours of MCLE specialty credits—this benefit alone pays for the cost of your membership!
The general rules for compliance follow:
Currently, the free programs may be found on the State Bar website under the “members only” page for the Solo and Small Firm Section.
A good source for low-cost webinars and self-study articles on an array of subjects is, “Continuing Legal Education (CLE) at Your Fingertips,” a catalog of MCLE options available on the CLA website (http://cla.legal/CLE-Events). Live programs, online CLE and webcasts, and self-study articles are all posted here, for your convenience.
“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself.” ~ Coco Chanel
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ~ Winston Churchill