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News for, and by, our local legal community, curated and created by the Santa Clara County Bar. The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' own and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, its members, its employees, or its governing board.

 

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California Bar considers ‘legal technician’ pilot program

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A State Bar of California panel has recommended that the agency consider launching a pilot program allowing non-lawyers to perform some legal work.

The Civil Justice Strategies Task Force, in a draft report recently published for comment, has suggested the bar examine designing a program that would allow so-called “limited license legal technicians” to practice in one subject area.

Subjects mentioned by the task force for the pilot program were landlord-tenant, domestic violence and limited jurisdiction consumer cases.

The task force recommended the limited-license approach as one way to help the state address the growing number of people who can’t afford legal services, often referred to as the access-to-justice gap.

Some studies estimate that more than 80 percent of the essential legal needs of low-income people in the United States go unmet.

Craig Holden, president of the State Bar, said states have traditionally tried to reduce the access-to-justice gap by contributing funds to legal service organizations and encouraging lawyers to perform pro-bono work.

Read the whole story at San Diego Source

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Unleash the Leader Within: Apply for the 2015 Barristers' Leadership Program

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 27, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Santa Clara County Bar Association is seeking participants in its 2015 Barristers' Leadership Program.

This program, implemented in 1994, is designed to introduce participants to the local legal landscape, to prepare future leaders of the Bar Association, to encourage and promote diversity among the leadership, and to provide an opportunity for young and/or new attorneys to strengthen their leadership skills. All participants must be SCCBA Members who have been in practice fewer than 5 years or are under the age of 36. 

This four-month program includes formal leadership training sessions, lunch with the presiding judges, a leadership workshop, an ethics session with Judge Towery, and an intensive orientation to the SCCBA. Participants will also attend the SCCBA Board of Trustees, Finance, and Executive Committee meetings, as well as the Barristers’ Committee and other SCCBA committee meetings.

“The Barristers' Leadership program provided an invaluable opportunity to meet local attorneys with different levels of experience and create new contacts,” said one past participant. “This program also allowed me to develop leadership skills that will be useful in my law practice and as a member of the Santa Clara County Bar Association.”

All interested candidates are encouraged to submit an application form here. All applications are due by April 17, 2015.

APPLY HERE →

 

Please email sarab@sccba.com with any questions or information requests.

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Win or lose, discrimination suit is having an effect on Silicon Valley

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 26, 2015

  

She was a junior partner at one of Silicon Valley's most powerful venture capital firms. But was Ellen Pao a greedy underperformer? Or was she a victim of a sexist corporate culture?

That's the choice confronting a jury in a trial that has riveted an industry struggling to attract and keep talented women in the workforce.

Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers wrapped up Wednesday after weeks of testimony exposed salacious details of workplace trysts, all-male outings, porn talk and alleged routine harassment. Jurors must decide whether the firm discriminated against Pao, 45, because she is a woman, and then fired her in retaliation after she sued in 2012.

"Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking," said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group.

"People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact."

Read the whole story at LA Times

 

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How California law school job placement rates compare

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 26, 2015

Though the economy is improving, job placement rates for California law schools dipped in the latest figures.

Look through the slideshow to see California's 21 American Bar Association-approved law schools, ranked by the percentage of 2013 graduates holding full-time, long-term jobs that require a juris doctor degree.

The median rate was 43 percent, down about a point from 2012.

Read the whole story at Sacramento Business Journal

 

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Mercury News editorial: Another flawed judge raises question

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's time California considered appointing rather than electing judges.

The latest example of conduct more likely to surface when judges are picked by popular election is that of newly elected Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Stuart Scott, who is accused of violating the code of ethics on judicial conduct.

Through no fault of their own, voters have little basis upon which to identify the best candidate in a judicial campaign.

Scott's conduct reportedly ranged from eye-rolling in court to dissing the defense attorney in a private conversation with Deputy District Attorney Kelly Meeker. Mercury News staff writer Tracey Kaplan reported that Meeker told her supervisor about Scott's conduct, and District Attorney Jeff Rosen's office promptly followed its ethical obligation to report it to the Public Defender's Office and the presiding judge.

The Commission on Judicial Performance may review Scott's conduct.

It may be possible for Scott to recover and adopt appropriate courtroom behavior. He is intelligent and knows the law.

This was not the case with former Judge Diane Ritchie, who was elected in 2008 and unseated last fall by former prosecutor Matt Harris after this newspaper exposed Ritchie's general incompetence. The courts had struggled for six years to help her learn the job, and ultimately the county bar association declared her unqualified for re-election.

From the perspective of defendants, plaintiffs and attorneys, it's hard to say which of these cases is worse: an apparently clueless judge or a smart one who telegraphs bias.

Read the whole story at Mercury News

 

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2015 State of the Judiciary Address by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
A Message from Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye


Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering my annual State of the Judiciary address, which was followed by a reception attended by Governor Jerry Brown, members of the Legislature, and others at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building. I would like to thank members of the Judicial Council, the Bench Bar Coalition, theCalifornia Judges Association, and the Open Courts Coalition for their ongoing support, as well as their legislative advocacy visits that preceded the address.

Video
 | Audio 

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Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 23, 2015

For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, days-long bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard.

But that standard, so long unquestioned, is facing a new round of scrutiny — not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments. Some states, including Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire, are exploring or have adopted other options, questioning the wisdom of relying on a single written test as the gateway to legal practice.

The debate over the exam is not new, but it broke out in the open after the results of last summer’s exam were released in the fall, showing that the 51,005 test takers had the poorest results in nearly a decade.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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State Bar recommends 30-day suspension, probation for attorney Genis

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 19, 2015

The State Bar of California has recommended a 30-day suspension and two-year probation for Santa Barbara attorney Darryl Wayne Genis for misconduct.

Hearing Judge Richard Honn found in February 2014 that Genis was an "effective but confrontational criminal defense attorney" and that he violated court orders in two superior courts. Honn recommended a 90-day suspension, which Genis appealed. 

Honn, who presided over Genis’ disciplinary trial, made the recommendation based on criteria including that the attorney made a false and malicious State Bar complaint, committed an act of moral turpitude and failed to obey court orders.

Genis specializes in DUI cases and is representing Santa Ynez resident Benjamin Bettencourt in a fatal DUI case.

Read the whole story at Lompoc Record

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The Barristers' Committee seeks your nomination for the Barrister of the Year Award.

Posted By Paula Collis, Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2015

Each year the Barristers’ Committee recognizes a stand out SCCBA Barrister with the Barrister of the Year Award. The award recognizes a new lawyer who has contributed to the legal profession through their professional and community activities.  The criteria for the award are as follows:

  • Age 35 or younger or practiced law for fewer than 5 years;

  • Active member of the CA Bar;

  • Member of the SCCBA whose primary practice is in Santa Clara County;

  • Actively participates for at least one year, making significant contributions, in at least one of the following:

    • SCCBA or State Bar Committee

    • Pro bono activities, including serving on the board of directors of a legal agency or legal services fund raising committee; and/or

    • Other community activities that benefit the legal profession and/or practice of law

  • Demonstrated professional skill and judgment significantly beyond that expected for a lawyer with his or her experience level.

 

NOMINATE A BARRISTER →

 

If you know of an individual who should be considered for this honor, please submit their name and a brief written statement in support of your nomination online. You may also fax or email your nomination letter to Attn: Sara Brylowski at sarab@sccba.com; Fax (408) 850-1506.

Nominations will be accepted until Friday, April 10, 2015 and the award will be presented at a luncheon in May. Your thoughtful participation and support in helping us present this award is greatly appreciated.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Barristers' Committee Chair: Nicole Adams-Hess.


PAST RECIPIENTS:
Adam Davis, Davis & Young, APLC
Eric Hutchins, Oracle Corporation
Andrew Cain, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Julie Saffren, past Editor of the State Bar Family Law News
Shannon Stein, Past President of the SCCBA
David Tsai, Perkins Coie, LLP
Jenn Protas, Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel Inc
Kate Wilson,  Extreme Networks & current SCCBA Officer

Tags:  Barrister of the Year  Barristers  Recognition 

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California Judges Meet to Do Damage Control in Bureaucracy

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 13, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - After a stern rebuke from legislators over the California State Auditor's conclusion that the Judicial Council failed to properly oversee its staff bureaucracy, judges on the council's top committee met Thursday to confront the auditor's conclusion that significant changes still hadn't been made.

The Judicial Council is the rulemaking body that oversees the bureaucracy of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Judges on the Judicial Council's top committee met to address the auditor's conclusion that significant changes still have not been made.

In an audit stemming from strong criticism from judges and legislators over the AOC's spendthrift ways during a period of severe cuts to the courts, state Auditor Elaine Howle found the Administrative Office of the Courts wasted of hundreds of millions of dollars that should have gone to keeping courts running, and were not held accountable by their bosses at the Judicial Council.

In testimony to legislators Wednesday , Howle quoted from an internal investigation of the AOC by a committee of judges appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. In 2012, this Strategic Evaluation Committee unleashed a scathing chronicle of mismanagement and waste, calling the bureaucracy top-heavy in management, with an oversized and overpaid staff.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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