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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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Bar Board Missing Public Members

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SACRAMENTO — Personnel and legal drama may be plentiful at California's State Bar these days. But the number of nonlawyers overseeing those travails by serving on the bar's board of trustees is not.

The board, comprised of up to 20 members, currently has four vacancies. All four are so-called public-member slots that must be filled by the governor. And he appears to be in no rush. The last two gubernatorial appointees left when their terms expired in 2012, according to a bar spokeswoman.

That leaves the governing body dominated by attorneys, a situation that, based on sentiments expressed by lawmakers in 2011 legislation overhauling the board's leadership, is not ideal.

"We're aware of the vacancies and have interviewed a number of candidates," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown. "As is the case with every appointment we make, our focus is selecting the best possible candidate—or candidates—from a deep and diverse pool of applicants."

That pool may not run very deep. Public service sentiments aside, it's hard to imagine many nonlawyers eager to serve on a board, flush with attorneys, that seems to be smacked with turmoil and scandals on a regular basis.

And from the governor's point of view, there are hundreds of appointments to make annually—judges, commissioners, fair board members and agency executives, just to name a few. Occasionally, some of those agencies lack operating quorums. Filling those vacancies, and those on more prominent governing boards, are surely higher priorities.

And no one's saying that having an additional four public members on the bar's board would have prevented the current Joe Dunn saga. But their absence seems to fly in the face of 2011 legislation that shrunk the size of the board, giving more weight to appointed members, and stated adamantly that "protection of the public shall be the highest priority for the State Bar."

Westrup offered no timeline for the governor filling those vacancies.

"As soon as these appointments are made," he said, "we'll let you know."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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San Francisco's powerful U.S. appeals court gets new 'Big Sky' leader

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

For the past seven years, the face of the nation's largest federal appeals court has been Alex Kozinski -- a flamboyant, high-profile and sometimes controversial chief judge known for his love of video games, wide-ranging essays, unpredictable rulings and a long-ago appearance on the "Dating Game."

But there is now a new sheriff for the sprawling San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And this one is an unassuming, soft-spoken judge from Big Sky country who by his own admission will be much quieter than the colorful Kozinski.

Meet Sidney Thomas, a Montana native who took over Dec. 1 as the influential chief judge of a court that shapes federal law for California and eight other Western states.

"The 9th Circuit deserves some panache, and he supplied it," Thomas said of his predecessor in an interview with this newspaper at the 9th Circuit's ornate San Francisco headquarters. "I don't think anyone can duplicate his style. But I've had fairly good preparation for the job."

The 61-year-old Thomas, appointed to the court in 1995 by former President Bill Clinton, becomes chief judge for a seven-year term under a complex seniority system that made him next in line. But to colleagues and the legal community, he is already established as one of the court's respected leaders.

Read the whole story at San Jose Mercury News

 

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Commission on Judicial Appointments to Consider Appointment to the Supreme Court of California

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Confirmation Hearing Set for Monday, December 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO—A public hearing has been scheduled by the Commission on Judicial Appointments for Monday, December 22, 2014, beginning at 11:00 a.m. in the Supreme Court Courtroom, Earl Warren Building, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, California to consider the appointment by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., of Ms. Leondra R. Kruger to the Supreme Court of California.

The state Constitution specifies that a gubernatorial appointment to the Supreme Court is “effective when confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.”

The commission members who will consider the appointment of Ms. Kruger are Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye (Chair), California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and Senior Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Three.

Appointee Summary Biography

Ms. Kruger would fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard on April 5, 2014. Ms. Kruger has served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the United States Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel since 2013. Before that, she was an Assistant to the Solicitor General and Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General from 2007 to 2013.

Ms. Kruger was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 2007, an associate at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP from 2004 to 2006, and an associate at Jenner and Block LLP from 2001 to 2002. She also served as a law clerk to Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court from 2003 to 2004 and to Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003.

Testimony and Comment

Persons who wish to testify or comment on the appointment must submit their information for receipt by the commission no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 15, 2014.

Anyone wishing to testify before the commission must state that request in writing and include a summary of the facts on which any testimony or opinion will be based.

The commission’s address is:

Commission on Judicial Appointments
c/o Chief Justice of California
Supreme Court of California
350 McAllister Street
San Francisco, California 94102
Attention: Secretary to the Commission

 

The guidelines for the Commission on Judicial Appointments are published as an appendix to the California Rules of Court and are available on the California Courts website.



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Exploring SCCBA.COM: Pay multiple invoices with a single payment

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q: Is there a way I can pay multiple invoices via a single credit card payment?

 

Members may now pay multiple invoices with a single payment method within the Invoicing, Payments & History area under Manage Profile.

 

 

To use this feature, select multiple invoices for payment within the available checkbox and select “Pay Selected Invoices,” then enter your payment information.

Have any questions about the membership tools on SCCBA.COM? Let us know!




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Bar Cuts Ties with Political Consultant Allied with Dunn

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SACRAMENTO - Lost in the morass of litigation and allegations that enveloped the State Bar over the last week was the news that not only was executive director Joe Dunn sent packing, so was his political ally Richie Ross.

Ross, a lobbyist and campaign consultant, followed Dunn to the Bar when the latter was named chief executive in 2010. And shortly before the Bar canned Dunn amid reports of questionable spending and misleading the board of trustees on important issues, it terminated Ross' consultancy contract, Bar president Craig Holden confirmed. The near-simultaneous departures were fitting for a political pair whose careers have intertwined for almost two decades.

Ross helped Dunn, an Orange County trial lawyer, defeat former state Senate Republican leader Rob Hurtt in a 1998 upset victory. Termed out of office in 2006, Dunn praised Ross in his goodbye speech on the Senate floor, calling him "an amazing teacher ... who has taught me so much along the way."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Women still have a long way to go in judiciary

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court is one-third female, an all-time high. California’s legal profession has also reached historic levels in gender diversity — nearly one-third of the state’s judges and 40 percent of its lawyers are women.

The state Supreme Court, all-male for its first 128 years, had a majority of female justices from 2011 through April 2014 and still is 50 percent women. The three-member commission that confirmed the latest nominee to the state’s high court, drawn from the top ranks of legal officials in California, consisted entirely of women.

So is it time to proclaim, in the words of a bygone cigarette commercial, “You’ve come a long way, baby”?

No way, says California’s chief justice.

If women make up 50 percent of the population, “then there should be 50 percent representation on the bench and in the (legal) profession,” Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the second woman to head the state Supreme Court and preside over the nation’s largest judicial system, said at a panel discussion in San Francisco last week.

When she was first appointed to the bench in 1963, said Joan Dempsey Klein, a state appeals court justice in Los Angeles who is now the state’s senior presiding appellate justice, “male lawyers would come in and call me 'dearie’ and 'honey.’ Anything but 'Your Honor.’”

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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State Bar Replaces Its General Counsel

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SACRAMENTO — State Bar employees were told internally Friday that Thomas Miller is no longer serving as the organization's general counsel.

A spokeswoman for the Bar confirmed that Larry Yee, formerly a deputy general counsel, is now acting as the top legal adviser to the agency that oversees more than 249,000 California lawyers. Laura Ernde declined to say what Miller's employment status is or to provide any other information.

Miller's apparent departure follows the Nov. 7 ouster by the board of trustees of executive director Joe Dunn. Dunn was criticized in a board-initiated report that concluded he had failed to uphold his fiduciary duties to the Bar and misled trustees about a number of important issues. Dunn's attorney, Mark Geragos, has called the report's findings categorically false and inaccurate.

The report, prepared by attorneys with Munger, Tolles & Olson, also leveled criticism at Miller for not stepping in to provide accurate information to trustees when Dunn had not, according to people who have seen the communique.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Efficiency rather than billable hours will be used to evaluate associates at this large law firm

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

The nearly 300 associates at Jackson Lewis will no longer be evaluated based on billable hours.

Beginning next year, the firm will instead evaluate associates based on efficiency, client service, responsiveness, team-orientation and pro-bono commitment, theAm Law Daily reports.

A few years back, the law firm required associates to work 1,900 hours to be eligible for a productivity bonus, according to firm chairman Vincent Cino. Now, he tells the Am Law Daily, the only financial consideration will be “true billed value.”

The Am Law Daily sought comment on the change from Altman Weil consultant Thomas Clay. He told the publication that, in the last 15 years, most law firms have shifted their compensation focus from billable hours to fee receipts.

“When they look at productivity, do they look at hours? Yes,” Clay asked. “But if you can’t get the fee receipts in the door, do you get less credit for your hours? Yes. In the end, you can’t spend hours at the Acme—you can only spend cash.”

Source: ABA Journal

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Florida State gunman was a former BigLaw associate

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

The gunman who shot three people early Thursday at Florida State University has been identified as a lawyer who attended the school as an undergraduate, police told the Associated Press.

The gunman was shot and killed by campus police after shooting three people at the university’s library. Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo identified the gunman as Myron May, who graduated from Florida State, according to the AP story. He graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2009, TTU’s office of communications and marketing confirmed to Texas Lawyer (sub. req.)

May was a former associate at Andrews Kurth, the Houston Chronicle reports in a story noted by Above the Law. Andrews Kurth confirmed to the Chronicle that May had worked at the firm and was no longer working there, but could not release when his tenure there began and ended.

One of the individuals shot early Thursday was hospitalized in critical condition and the other was in fair condition, the Miami Herald reports. The third person was grazed by a bullet and treated at the scene.

Read the whole story at ABA Journal

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Are 2016 law grads in luck? New stats say lawyer jobs will exceed graduates that year

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed the way it calculates job openings in the legal profession, producing a rosy outlook for law grads in 2016.

The bureau’s new method of calculating workers leaving an occupation who need to be replaced no longer relies on the assumption that workers enter at a young age, work in their field until they are old, and then retire, according to Loyola at Los Angeles law professor Theodore Soto, writing at TaxProf Blog. Workers no longer follow a traditional career path, and the old method failed to capture many people leaving law jobs, the bureau concluded.

Now the Bureau of Labor Statistics will directly measure workers who leave occupations, based on survey results. The bureau made the change after testing both measures of job openings against historical data, including data for lawyers.

ABA data collected since 2011 shows an average of 29,000 law grads find positions requiring bar passage each year, and that doesn’t include grads who clerk or take other jobs who later find JD-required positions. Yet the bureau’s old method projected an average of only 19,560 lawyer jobs each year.

The new method projects 41,460 lawyer openings a year, according to Soto.

 

Read the whole story at ABA Journal

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