California Laws: What’s New for 2020

As of Jan. 1, dozens of new laws went into effect that will alter the way attorneys represent their clients in state courts. We can help you brush up on the changes.

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The California Lawyers Association’s bill monitoring and tracking service organizes legislation by practice area sections and committees. The Judicial Council of California has also created a summary and index of all of the new laws of interest to the legal community on topics ranging from access to justice to court budgets. Here are some highlights.

Expansion of Civil Gideon

The CLA advocated for increased funding for the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act program, which provides representation for low-income persons in civil matters such as tenants facing eviction, parents involved in child custody disputes, and families in urgent need of guardianships or conservatorships. AB 330 provides additional funding for the program by raising court fees and allowing the Judicial Council to accept donations from public and private entities. It also broadens the use of Shriver Program funds in child custody cases by eliminating consideration that the other party is represented by counsel. 

Bills Sponsored by the CLA Trust and Estates Section

  • AB 327 concerns estate planning between spouses. It provides that an at-death transfer, as defined, between spouses by will, revocable trust, beneficiary form, or other instrument is not subject to a presumption of undue influence under a Family Code provision applicable to interspousal contracts.
  • AB 328 closes a loophole that had allowed caregivers to obtain the assets of their elderly or mentally incapacitated clients by marrying them. It presumptively renders invalid donative transfers to caregivers who marry the dependent adult in their care, except in certain circumstances.

Streamlined Discovery Process 

AB 2230 from 2018 gives judges the flexibility to manage civil cases more efficiently by allowing an outline of the discovery issues in dispute in lieu of full separate statements from both the plaintiff and defense counsel. “This often tedious task is timely and can add up to reams of paper without any benefit for judges, parties, or the public,” according to the bill’s author, Assemblymember Mark Berman. Although enacted in 2018, the legislation went into effect in 2020 to give attorneys and courts a year to adjust. 

Justice for Survivors of Child Sexual Assault 

AB 218 opens a three-year-window for childhood sexual assault victims to file a civil action that would otherwise be time-barred. Adults who realize they were abused as children now have additional time to file a claim — up to age 40 and within five years from the time they realized the abuse caused psychological trauma. 

California Consumer Privacy Act

AB 375 enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), with provisions that are effective beginning January 1, 2020. Among other provisions, the legislation requires companies to give consumers more control over how their personal information is used and shared. In 2019, the following bills amending the CCPA were enacted: AB 25, AB 874, AB 1130, AB 1146, AB 1202, AB 1355, and AB 1564. In order to help CLA members advise their clients on the ramifications of the law, the CLA has partnered with the Alameda County Bar Association on an upcoming CCPA Summit in February.

CLA Advocacy

CLA advocates for causes that advance our mission: promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. For more information about this effort, see our advocacy page.