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President Shannon Stein


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How Time Flies!

Posted By Administration, Saturday, December 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I remember the conversation clearly. Judge Ed Davila, Judge Brian Walsh and Judge Julie Emede all told me in January that my year as President of the SCCBA would go by fast. At the time, it seemed December was so far away but wow here it is!!! They were correct; the year did fly by. It has been such an honor to be President of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. The SCCBA is a wonderful organization to be a part of. I have met amazing lawyers, judges, State Bar leaders, and community leaders. I have made personal and professional connections that will last a life time.

This year, my project was entitled “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.” I hope that through my Presidential articles, attendance at our MCLE events and attendance at my Leadership Summit that you each were able to become a lawyer who leads. I hope that you each are now able to answer these questions: How does a Lawyer lead in the courtroom, in the community and in their practice area? What makes one Lawyer stand out amongst other Lawyers? How did our current leaders obtain their leadership role? What skills do leaders possess?

I also sought to look at ways that we can help our members with the new E-Discovery rules. A special thanks to Past President Mark Shem in leading the E-Discovery Task Force and for his hard work for helping the presentation of four MCLE’s on E-Discovery. In terms of membership, our organization is thriving and we were able to increase our membership this year. I did not reach my goal of adding 3000 members but will continue to work on it in the future. I believe that our members get many benefits by being a part of our organization.

Speaking of benefits, this year we added additional member benefits. First, we launched a new website which makes it easier to find out about our events, search our on line membership directory and learn more about our organization. Our directory includes pictures and is searchable by practice area as defined by the members themselves. So, in addition to finding a member simply by name, you can search by location, firm name and practice areas.

Second, we made a decision to offer a substantial practice benefit of free access to an on line legal research service along with premium features at an incredibly low cost through CaseMaker. This free legal research on line along with the other features provides a substantial number of our members a significant benefit and potentially saves many of our members hundreds of dollars a year.
Finally, we continue to offer CLEs at a much lower rate than other providers. We also tend to have more judges on our panels than other providers.
This year we also had issues with the State Bar including the decrease in court funding and how we as lawyers are governed. I made sure that our voice was heard. In addition, to my President’s articles on this subject, we had the opportunity to hear from Jon Streeter, State Bar President, at Judges’ Night on the court funding issues and problems with the legislature trying to control the Judicial Branch.
I could not have been a successful President if it was not far the wonderful staff at the SCCBA. Each of them has been wonderful in their dealings with me, their planning and execution of events and making my ideas come to life. Chris Burdick has been an amazing mentor, friend, and coach in helping me navigate my year. My Executive Committee: Mindy Morton, Bob Chastain, Steve Haley, Shelyna Brown, Jenn Protas, Kate Wilson, John Mlnarik and Diane Sweeney—thank you! You all are amazing people and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to work with each of you. You have no idea how much I will miss our meetings together. To the Board of Trustees, thank you for your hard work in dealing with the decisions we had to make this year. Your time and effort is well appreciated.
To all my Committee and Section Chairs—thank you! Your guidance and leadership skills have helped our association be stronger. To my family—thank you for your willingness to put up with all my meetings and sometimes late nights. And finally to all of you---thank you for all your support, encouragement, your willingness to say yes and your friendship this year.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. I look forward to continuing to meet each of you, work with you, and to continue to improve our legal profession.
Shannon Stein

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Lincoln High Class of 1991--Yipee!!

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shannon Stein, SCCBA President

I received notice of my twenty year high school reunion via Facebook this past summer. As soon as I received the invitation I debated about attending. I do not keep in touch with most of my high school friends. I did not like a lot of the people at my high school. I was a “geek,” and not entirely in the popular crowd. I did remind myself that I attended my ten year reunion and had a good time so I would think some more about attending.

During August and September, suddenly my Facebook friend request increased. People that I thought could give two “$**” about me wanted to be my Facebook friend. The captain of the football team---who probably did not know my name in high school wanted to be my “friend.” The cheerleaders who laughed at me when I tried out to be a cheerleader wanted to be my “friend.” The speech and debate team, and newspaper staff wanted to be my “friend.” (Those people I wanted to “friend” immediately.) Yes, I accepted all the friend requests unless there were people that I really did not know/remember.

Slowly as posts came through on my wall and posts were put to the Lincoln High School Class of 1991 Reunion page, I began to get excited to attend the reunion. I will admit that it was nice to see that some of the cute boys—were not so cute anymore. Some of the skinny girls were not so skinny. Some of the people that I thought would be making millions were not. And it was nice to get back in touch with the people that I did actually hang out with at Lincoln.

The night of the reunion I pulled up to the hotel. I did go through the dilemma again of whether I really wanted to attend or not. I sat in the car for about fifteen minutes. I finally psyched myself up to attend. (I did look good with my new black dress and shoes.) As soon as I approached the sign in table, about four people came up to me and hugged me. (I did not remember who two of the four were.) Also waiting were a few of my close friends in high school who were excited to see me.
As the evening progressed, I realized that some of these people had known me since I was in kindergarten. In fact at one point during the reunion, the organizer had signs made of the elementary schools that feed into Lincoln and asked us all to go to the signs and take a picture and mingle with our childhood friends. About twenty people from my elementary school were in attendance. One friend, Nicole, mentioned to me “You know- you and these people are my family. We all have been through a lot and these are our oldest friends.” She was correct.

There was dancing, drinking and mingling. There definitely was plenty of people excited to be out for a night without their children—and a few excited to have an evening out without their spouses. There were discussions of an “after party.” I heard there was an “unreunion at a local bar” for those who did not want to spend money on a ticket to the “actual reunion.” I got the chance to network as well.

By the end of the evening, I did have a realization that I turned out okay. That despite the teasing that I may have gotten by some of these people growing up and in high school---I was probably one of the most successful people in my class. I was the only one, at least who was in attendance, who had my own law office and certainly the only one who was President of a large bar association. Most of my classmates as well also turned out okay. Some of the highlights of people’s careers were: the executive chef at Evvia in Palo Alto; a Hollywood prop artist; an artist who worked on the Harry Potter movies; a former news reporter in Sacramento; a Pulitzer prize winning author; a few doctors and teachers and many people who just had regular jobs. 
I highly recommend to each of you that you attend your reunions. If nothing else, it is one of those life stages that I think you just have to do.

As for the SCCBA it is hard to believe that it is November and my year of Presidency is drawing to a close. This month on November 2, 2011 was our Annual Judges Night. Over 400 people were in attendance. We honored Craig Needham as the Professional Lawyer of the Year; the Hon. Erica Yew received the diversity award; the Hon. Rise Jones Pichon was named Outstanding Jurist of the Year and R. Terence La Porte received the Pro Bono Award. Jon Streeter, President of the State Bar Of California was the key note speaker. He addressed the importance of the judiciary maintaining its role as the third co-equal branch of government and the separation of powers issue being raised by the Legislature’s and the Governor’s approach to the funding of the judiciary and the rather draconian cuts being made. He encouraged all of us to become involved in educating the Legislature about the importance of the judiciary as the third branch of government and to work to ensure that our courts are adequately funded to address the rights of the citizens of California.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Shannon Stein

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Lawyers Leading in the New Decade

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

On September 26, 2011 our members benefited from an amazing Leadership Summit. This event brought together the theme of my year as President, which has been: “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.”

The Summit began with a presentation and discussion by Robert W. Cullen, who authored the book “The Leading Lawyer, A Guide to Practicing Law and Leadership."

Mr. Cullen spoke about what it means for lawyers to be leaders; how essential it is for lawyers to be leaders in their practice; how important it is for lawyers not just to advocate for their clients but to create opportunities and provide a positive change for clients. He spoke about how in this new knowledge-based economy and because information and experience have become more of a commodity, the critical success factors for businesses and professional service firms are leadership skills comprised of credibility, drive and determination, communication and persuasion, creative thinking, vision, and relationship and team building. He feels that lawyers need these leadership skills in order to successfully navigate their clients through an ever-increasing sea of laws, regulations, and sophisticated business concepts in ways that separate them from the competition.

He went into detail about each of these skills. Credibility is made of three prongs: expertise, integrity, and inspiration. He spoke about how clients expect their lawyers to have the legal knowledge and expertise to provide legal solutions as well as to provide inspiration to their clients. In regards to drive and determination, he stated that lawyers must be able to work hard, and have the capacity to adapt to changing conditions. He stated that lawyers must not just be analytically and technically superior in their fields but must seek to motivate and inspire others in order to further their leadership goals.

Leading lawyers must be able to communicate well. Leading lawyers realize that there are many ways in which to communicate different messages to different people. Leading lawyers will identify the appropriate communication tool and use it in the most persuasive manner in order to implement their vision and accomplish positive change.
Finally, under relationship building, he stated that leading lawyers are able to develop relationships, motivate others and build well-working teams in every environment. He stated that even in stressful situations that leading lawyers build a working relationship with their clients and even with opposing counsel and opposing parties.

He emphasized that all the above skills can be and must be learned within one’s practice or legal organization. He strongly feels that leadership development is the primary element for a competitive future in the legal community. He spoke about how Santa Clara University was the first law school to have a leadership class and now a few other schools including Stanford have a class. He feels that lawyers must learn skills that are not typically taught in law schools: how to communicate and develop a better understanding of our clients, how to approach a problem collaboratively, and creatively, rather than with a solely adversarial approach, how to work well with our associates, peers and even our adversaries, how to utilize teams and how to bring the human element into our practice.
After Mr. Cullen spoke, I then moderated a roundtable discussion with prominent leaders in our legal community: Miguel Marquez, Santa Clara County County Counsel; Mary Greenwood, Santa Clara County Public Defender; Anne Kepner, partner at Needham, Kepner & Fish; Patrick Dunkley, Assistant General Counsel, Stanford University; and Jim Towery, Of Counsel, Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl & Chuck. All the panel members were inspiring, and provided helpful advice, and shared personal stories of how they obtained their leadership role.
Some of the comments that were made by panel members in discussing how they obtained their leadership role, skills they feel are necessary to become a leading lawyer as well as practical advice for attorneys are:

1) Do what you love. If you do not like your job, you are not going to do a good job for a client.

2) When appearing in court, be prepared and know your case.

3) Your reputation is everything.

4) Be a servant to your community. Volunteer your time with an organization, or do pro bono work. Be active in the bar association.

5) Remember that cases are about your clients. Even if your client is mean and irrational—continue to be professional with your opposing counsel.

6) Work hard- (On a side note, each panel member indicated that they more often than not, do work in the evenings and weekends.)

7) Be a visionary.

8) Be a risk taker.

9) Take time for yourself.

10) Be professional.

The program ended with questions from the audience and networking among attendees. If you would like to view the program, it can be found online in a few weeks in On Line CLE catalogue. You will find it under its title: SCCBA Leadership Summit.

Wishing you a happy fall season.


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What Has The SCCBA Done For You Lately? Here's What.

Posted By Administration, Saturday, September 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In addition to the many membership benefits available to SCCBA members prior to 2011, the SCCBA has added and continues to add benefits to enhance your day-to-day practice of law. If you haven’t been keeping track, here is what is upcoming, what has recently been launched and some of our earlier launched member benefits. We hope you are taking advantage of these benefits.


On Line Legal Research: Have you ever wondered if there would ever be a choice for robust legal research beyond Lexis or Westlaw that would not cost you an arm and a leg? The SCCBA has found that choice for SCCBA members. Within the next several weeks, SCCBA will launch an on line legal research product through CaseMaker. This legal research will cost you less than $900 a year. The standard, robust on line legal research will be FREE to all SCCBA members. Only the premium features will require a very low, very reasonable subscription. What you having been paying Westlaw up to $5000 a year may now cost you less than $900 a year, including your yearly SCCBA membership dues. Watch for the implementation timeline and for the brown bag where we will introduce and provide a demonstration of this very exciting benefit.

My CLE Manager: You will soon be able to keep track of your SCCBA cle credits on line with little effort. My CLE Manager will automatically track SCCBA cle programs you attend and apply the correct cle credits. You will have access to your certificate of attendance for any program you have attended. You will also be able to download and/or print your transcript of credits for any period of time you choose. Shortly after launch, we will be adding a feature to My CLE Manager that will allow you to add programs you take from cle providers other than SCCBA.

Banking Products Specifically Designed for Legal Professionals: Heritage Community Bank, the premier banking services provider for the SCCBA, has developed a package of banking products designed especially for lawyers and law firms. Many of the products have been developed as a result of the survey that many of you participated in a couple of months ago. Watch for the roll out of these products over the next couple of months.


Career Center: SCCBA now boasts a robust on line Career Center where job seekers can create an account, search and post a resume at no cost. Legal employers can post legal positions at a low, reasonable rate. The Career Center features local positions but also includes job postings across the country, placed there through bar associations nationwide. The Career Center can be accessed from the SCCBA homepage.

Legal Flash: A new SCCBA associated website launched the end of August. The website contains daily updated Association and local area legal news as well as daily legal news in the follow substantive areas: Corporate Law, Tech & IP Law, Family Law and Criminal Law along with US Headlines. SCCBA members receive an email summary of the news on Tuesday and Thursdays but the Legal Flash website can be accessed 24x7. The Legal Flash website can be accessed from the Legal Flash email and from the SCCBA main website under Member/Practice Resources. The new Legal Flash email has replaced the former SCCBA Weekly eNews.

Judicial Profiles Updated: In July, the SCCBA re-launched its on line judicial profiles of local state and federal judges. The judicial profiles are all updated and new profiles have been added for about 20 judges who have been appointed over the last 20 months. Information for the profiles is provided by the judge, him/her self. This is an exclusive member-only benefit. You can find this feature on the SCCBA website under Member/Practice Resources.

New Redesigned Website: In April, the SCCBA launched a new, redesigned website. A few of the new features on the new website include:

  • Enhanced user navigation

  • Personalized Member Portal Page allowing members to edit their member directory profile and picture; view any and all outstanding invoices; pay any invoices on line; see SCCBA Member News; view a list of all committees/sections in which the member is participating and a direct link to those committee/section webpages.

  • Enhanced, On Line Membership Directory: Searchable, pictorial on line membership directory searchable by name, location, and practice area. Directory listings now include links to the member’s website and to any social media pages, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and

  • Enhanced CLE Calendar, Event Announcements and on line registration


The following benefits have been in place for at least two years and have been specifically designed to assist members in their law practices. If you haven’t checked outthese benefits lately, you should. Also, there are many other benefits not listed here that include vendor discounts for a variety of products and services. You can see the full list of membership benefits at the SCCBA website at Member/Practice Resources>>>Member Benefits.

Public Directory of Attorneys: This is a subscription based service that allows members to post a profile or full bio in a searchable on line directory available to individuals looking for attorneys. The Public Directory of Attorneys receives over 7,000 hits a month. You can have a dynamic internet marketing presence, be accessible to new clients within 24 hours of subscribing, at an incredibly low cost. You can check it out today at at Member/Practice Resource>>>Public Directory of Attorneys.

Lawyer Referral Service: The SCCBA administers a Lawyer Referral Service for clients searching for attorneys who meet minimum qualifications. Though more and more clients look for attorneys on the internet, many, many clients still prefer to speak to an individual who can help them get to the right attorney. Attorneys who join the SCCBA Lawyer Referral Service also get an on line listing in the Public Directory of Attorneys at no additional fee.

Networking: One of the best ways to enhance your law practice is networking with colleagues and local judges. You can do this easily through SCCBA membership by becoming active in a committee or substantive law section, attending CLE programs, section socials, Association receptions and the Annual Judges’ Night.

Giving Back: For those who are interested in giving back to the community or the legal profession or the SCCBA, the SCCBA provides many different opportunities, including, pro bono opportunities, opportunities to promote civility and professionalism among attorneys, opportunities to address diversity issues in the legal profession and leadership opportunities within the SCCBA.

I encourage you to take the time to learn about all the various and variety of membership benefits and take advantage of them to enhance your law practice and your reputation in the local legal community. Being a member of the organized bar has been a long tradition of the legal profession. Take advantage of what the SCCBA offers and tell a non-member colleague to join the SCCBA today.

Shannon Stein, President

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SCCBA Leadership Summit: Lawyers and Leading in the New Decade

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

 As many of you know, the theme of my year as President is “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.”  Some of these issues include: How does a lawyer lead in the courtroom, in the community and in their practice area? What makes one lawyer stand out among other lawyers? How did our current leaders obtain their leadership role? What skills do leaders possess? How do leaders balance their personal and work life? Do they take vacations? Work 24/7? Completing “unplug” or are they up all night?

In order to answer these questions, I am pleased to announce that on September 28, 2011 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the Santa Clara Bar Association will present a “Leadership Summit.”  At this event, Robert W. Cullen, who authored the book “The Leading Lawyer, A Guide to Practicing Law and Leadership, will be the key note speaker.  Mr. Cullen will be joined by a panel of prominent leaders in our community:  Miguel Marquez, Santa Clara County County Counsel; Mary Greenwood, Santa Clara County Public Defender; Patrick Dunckley, Assistant General Counsel, Stanford University; Craig Needham, partner at Needham, Kepner and Fish; and Jim Towery, former Chief Trial Attorney of the State Bar and former partner at Hoge, Fenton, Jones and Appel. 

This is sure to be an inspiring evening.  Many of the above questions will be answered and you will surely learn what it means to be a “Leading Lawyer.”  There will be time for networking and schmoozing with the panel members.  Please watch your email for registration information.  Also, if you are or your firm is interested in being a sponsor for the evening, please contact Angie Loyola at 408.975.2110 or

            In order to train the leaders in our association, at the end of July, Judge Richard Loftus and I hosted a lunch for the SCCBA Committee/Section Chairs, the SCCBA Officers and Supervising Judges of the different departments of the Superior Court. The lunch allowed both bench and bar leaders to exchange ideas, and share information about what goes on in their committees and in each corresponding judicial department.  It also was an opportunity for everyone to hear from Judge Loftus regarding the impact of the new budget cuts on our court.  Judge Loftus was optimistic that our county will not close courtrooms but did emphasize that many unfilled court positions will remain unfilled until the economy improves.  He also emphasized that it is important to treat the court staff with respect and patience because many of them are doing multiple jobs. Judge Loftus also gave an update on the Family Justice Center.  Many of us remember that there was hope that it would be built by 2014. It looks like it will not be built until 2015, at the least.  Judge Loftus believes that since the project is far along in terms of design and the land that the courthouse will still be built. Fingers crossed.

            In terms of creating new leaders, your opportunity is now to run for an SCCBA Officer or Board of Trustee position.  If you are interested in running for a position, please contact Chris Burdick by August 15, 2011. It would be wonderful to get more of our members involved in leadership positions.  I know my involvement in the bar has been one of the best things I have done personally and professionally.

            I am pleased to announce some new features to the SCCBA website. One of which is a Career Center. Over the next week, the SCCBA will be readying its newest value added, member  benefit:  a way to find jobs and a way to post job opportunities.  The best part:  SEARCHING IS FREE and POSTING IS A LOWER COST than virtually all on line legal job boards.  AND, job searches can be made not only for local legal positions but also legal positions in any other region of the country.  The new CAREER CENTER will pull job postings from over 70 premier legal job boards from across the country, postings that come through bar associations and other legal related entities.  Look for the CAREER CENTER launch, coming soon!

            There are many exciting bar events in the next month. Hope to see you at some of them.

Shannon Stein

SCCBA President

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It's Civics 101: Separation of Powers

Posted By Administration, Sunday, July 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

 A quick quiz:
How many branches of government are there?

Are all branches equal?
What does the separation of powers doctrine mean?
Who is our Governor?
Who is the current California Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
Who is the current Speaker of the California assembly?

I am not going to tell you the answers.  A simple Google search will reveal the answers. You should have gotten all of these correct.  My assumption is that most of you got all of these correct except for the last question.  Most of us learned the answers to the first three questions when we were in elementary school.  And for those not paying attention then, we all learned the answers to these questions as a One L.

I asked the above quiz because once again the California legislature is stepping on our “turf” as lawyers.  My April 2011 President’s article (co-written by Chris Burdick, Executive Director and General Counsel of the SCCBA) explained that the Legislature and Governor, as part of a deal with the State Bar in September 2011 to approve a 2010-2011 dues bill, mandated that the State Bar Board of Governors create a Governance in the Public Interest Task Force, charged with improving the public protection function of the State Bar.  One of the charges of the Task Force was how the Board of Governors (BOG) is made up.  Currently, the BOG is comprised of 23 governors:  15 lawyers elected by active practicing attorneys from districts across the state and an additional 16th lawyer member elected by the Young Lawyers Division; and 6 public members appointed by the Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Rules Committee.  In the article we wrote of the two options that the Task Force was planning on submitting to the Legislature and our opinion of these proposals. 

The Task Force submitted two proposals to the Legislature. The Task Force’s majority report would have continued the existing 23-member board, with six public members, but called for both appointed and elected attorney members. Twelve lawyers would be elected from five districts, three would be appointed by the Supreme Court after the election, and the California Young Lawyers Division would have a seat. The minority report calls for a 15-member all-appointed board of nine lawyers and six public members. The Supreme Court would appoint the lawyer members.
The Legislature, instead of following the recommendations of the Task Force created their own amendments to the 2012 State Bar fee bill (SB 163) that will revamp how the bar is governed. (Yes, one must ask why the legislature mandated that there be this Task Force if they were going to submit their own proposal any way.)   The amendments will reduce the board of governors from 23 to 19 members.  

The 19 members would include six lawyers elected from redrawn bar districts aligned with Court of Appeal districts, five lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court and two more attorneys appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Rules Committee. There would be six public members ? four by the governor and one each by the Assembly speaker and the Senate Rules Committee.  It would be a three year term. The Board of Governors would also get a new name ? the Board of Trustees.

In a nut shell, if one wanted to be on the “Board of Trustees” , one possibly would need to do all three things: run for office, apply with the Supreme Court and the Legislature to greaten their chances of being on the Board.  (All while continuing their day to day work, family, and activities.)
The SCCBA, as well as other bar associations, feel that that the current composition of the Board of Governors is the better than any of the proposals and these amendments.  The reason is that we feel that lawyers are best-equipped to address the many legal policy issues the Bar Board faces.  We also feel that we should be able to elect our own representatives.  The current proposal could potentially appoint people that are not qualified to make decisions regarding how lawyers should be governed.  Most of the public members currently on the BOG feel that lawyers should not be self-regulated.  

Getting back to that separation of powers question---remember lawyers are part of the judicial branch, part of the third, independent branch of government.  The Legislature, by creating their own amendments and not following the recommendations of the State Bar Task Force, is another example of their continued encroachment on the Supreme Court’s governance of lawyers.

The SCCBA Board of Trustees will continue to monitor this issue.  I urge each of you to contact your legislative representative as well as the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and express your opinion about this issue.

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Summer Camp & Lawyering

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

 The butterflies of excitement would begin a week before the big day, slowly increasing as the “big day” approached.  The night before no sleep would be had. The bags would be ready. The final details for the day ahead would be discussed.  The new outfit would be chosen.

The “day of” would begin with a good breakfast, a good shower, and an extensive look over to make sure everything was packed and ready to go.

On the drive there, the butterflies would increase.  I could not get there soon enough. Have you figured out what is the “big day?”  No, it is not the first day of trial but the first day of summer camp!

I am the product of summer camp.  For over ten years, I spent my summers or a portion of the summer at URJ Camp Swig up in the Saratoga Mountains on Big Basin Way. (The camp has since moved to Santa Rosa.)

My memories of camp are still the fondest memories of my childhood.  I loved meeting people from all over the world, the campfires, playing ga-ga, going on hikes, arts and crafts, drama, dancing and singing songs.  My favorite year of camp was when I was a Counselor In Training.  (known at Camp as a CIT).  Last summer was my 20th CIT reunion.  Many of my camp friends are still my closest friends today.

I believe that my experience at summer camp has prepared me to be a successful lawyer. The following are few of the reasons why:

*Relationship building:  As a camper you had to learn to live with other people. You had to learn to take direction from a counselor or a counselor in training.  As lawyers we need to build our networks. We need to be able to get along well with our colleagues, clients, the bench and our employers. We need to be able to take direction from our employers and the bench. We need to build relationships with the public so our business can thrive.  We need to build a network of people to whom we can go to when we need assistance or just want to have fun with.

*Time Management: At camp every minute of the day is planned with different activities, from programs to meals. The schedule was always placed on the door of our cabin.  When I start my work day, I always look at my calendar and note in my head when my appointments are and then pencil in the work that needs to be done that day.

*Billable hours:  You knew this one was coming! Because every minute of my day at camp was planned, I am an expert in recording my time.

*Free Time: Each day at camp there was at least an hour of free time.  We work hard as lawyers! Our jobs are very stressful. We deal with people when they are in conflict.  Make sure that each day you are scheduling in time for yourself. Go play golf, run, bake, spend time with your family—do something that is relaxing and fun for you.

*Public Speaking:  Often at Camp, we would make presentations or perform skits.  Although there are some attorney jobs where one does not need to speak, most of us do need to have the ability to speak in front of others. 

There are days when I find myself dreaming of being back at Camp. I do get “butterflies” still when I get ready for trial.  As much as I love going to trial and the “rush” of litigating cases---I sometimes wish that those butterflies were for driving up Big Basin way and heading to Camp.

Enjoy the sunshine.

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Spring Cleaning Your Legal Closet

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

‘Tis the spring time. The birds are singing. The birds are chirping. The sun is in the air. The air is cool not too hot and not too cold.  The days are longer and the nights shorter.  Exercise that took place inside is now taking place outside.  Baseball season is in full swing.

This time of year is known for “Spring Cleaning.”   Spring Cleaning means different things for different people. For some it is cleaning out your closet or the garage. (I admit I need to do both!) For others it is a time of reflection to think about where you are in your life and to contemplate where you are going.  For others, it begins the countdown to summer vacation.  (Though for most of us we still work through the summer.)  
As lawyers we are busy thinking about our clients, running our offices, dealing with opposing counsel and of course managing our personal lives as well.  We often do not “Spring Clean” things that are most important to our practice such as our retainer agreements.

When was the last time you read your retainer agreement? Is it up to date, meaning do you still follow the terms in it?  The following are some requirements that each retainer agreement should have.

In non-contingent matters, Section 6148 of the Business and Professions Code requires California attorneys to have written fee agreements with their clients whenever the client’s total expense, including fees, will foreseeably exceed $1,000 and to provide a duplicate copy of the fully executed agreement to the client.

The fee agreement must state:
(a)    Any basis for compensation including, but not limited to, hourly rates, statutory or flat fees, and other standard rates, fees and charges;  

(b)    The general nature of the legal services to be provided to the client;

(c)    The responsibilities of attorney and client under the agreement. 
Section 6148(b) requires attorneys to provide their clients with written billing statements. A client may request such statements at minimum intervals of 30 days. The attorney must provide a statement within 10 days after demand. All statements, whether requested by the client or not, must state "...the amount, rate and basis for calculation or other method of determination of the attorneys fees and costs." (subd.(b)).  (On a side note, this is also a good time, to insure that your bills are going out timely.  In my practice, I send out bills the first week of the preceding month of work. I am sad to say that I have taken over many cases from other lawyers where the lawyer took a client’s retainer agreement and yet never provided the client with a bill.)

In contingency fee agreements, Section 6147 of the Business and Professions Code contains the same requirements as non-contingency fee agreements (discussed above), including the requirement of a written fee agreement and a duplicate copy of the executed agreement being provided to the client.

There are additional requirements for contingency fee agreements. The agreement must include:
(a)    A statement of the contingency fee percentage amount.  
(b)    A statement as to how disbursements and costs will affect the contingency fee and the client’s recovery.  
(c)    A statement as to what extent, if any, the client could be required to pay any compensation to the attorney for related matters that arise out of their relationship not covered by their contingency fee agreement.  This may include any amounts collected for the client by the attorney.
(d)    Unless the claim is subject to the provisions of Business and Professions Code Section 6146 (Claim Against Health Care Provider), a statement that the fee is not set by law but is negotiable between attorney and client.  
(e)    If the claim is subject to Section 6146, a statement that the rates set forth in that section are the maximum limits for the contingency fee and that the attorney and client may negotiate a lower rate. If the matter involves a claim for injury or damage against a health care provider based upon negligence, the attorney should carefully review Business and Professions Code Section 6146.1.

    Another important aspect of your retainer agreement is making sure that if you do not carry malpractice insurance that you include that in your retainer agreement. California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-410 requires that California attorneys who know or should know that they do not have professional liability insurance must inform a client in writing, at the time the client engages the attorney, that the attorney does not have professional liability insurance whenever it is reasonably foreseeable that the total amount of legal representation in the client’s matter will exceed four hours.

    It is also important that the agreement be signed by both you and your client to make it enforceable.

    The State Bar website has sample retainer agreements for you to view. There also are attorneys in the area who specialize in attorney conduct who are willing to review your retainer agreement.  You can contact the SCCBA Lawyer Referral Service for names of attorneys. 
I hope that you all enjoy the May sunshine and have fun with your “spring cleaning.”

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Best Lawyer of the Year: What Makes A Successful Lawyer?

Posted By Shannon Stein, Thursday, March 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

by Shannon Stein, 2011 SCCBA President

On Sunday, February 26, 2011, the famous Hollywood Oscars were presented at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  At least three hours prior, stars took their turn down the red carpet, showing off their gowns and jewels. One the event commenced, various stars paraded on stage, announcing the winners in each film category after the famous large envelopes are opened.  The excitement builds up until finally the “Best Picture of the Year” is awarded.  This year, The King’s Speech won—which I am told is a fantastic movie.  I have yet to see it. (If anyone wants to go see it with me drop me a line.)

As I watched the Oscars, I thought to myself if I were giving out an award to the “Best Lawyer of the Year” what qualities would I look for in such a lawyer. As you know by now, my project for the year is “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.”  So, what makes a lawyer successful? Of course, success can be measured in many different ways.  Is it the lawyer who earns over a million dollars a year? The lawyer that graciously performs over 1000 hours of pro bono work a year? The lawyer that is known to be the “rambo” lawyer in the county-- the one that you never want to oppose? The lawyer that work for legal services? The lawyer that everyone likes? Every one of these lawyers could be considered successful if they possess following characteristics.

Competency:   Our clients expect that we will have the legal knowledge and expertise to help them through their problem.  Since law school, we all attend (either by choice or by the State Bar mandate) continuing legal education programs and seminars to expand our legal knowledge.  We must continue to study and learn as part of our every day career life in order to stay abreast of changing laws and the changing legal culture in our County. 
Credibility:   We must also have credibility with opposing counsel.  We must put into action what we say we will do. If we agree to continue hearing, we must continue it. If we agree to extend a discovery deadline, we must honor that request.
Professionalism:  We often hear this word but what does it mean? To me professionalism means treating each other and the court with respect. It means having the highest morals and ethics in your day-to-day life and practice.  Judge Brian Walsh, in 1992, for his SCCBA President’s project, created and established the “Santa Clara County Bar Association Code of Professionalism.”  I urge each of you to read this Code, understand it and use it in your practice.  The Code is proudly displayed in each courtroom in our County.  In many of the Family Court courtrooms the Code sits right on the counsel tables as a constant reminder that one should always act civilly and professionally in litigating cases. 

Professionalism also means refraining from personally attacking another lawyer for how he/she is handling a case. I have received letters from attorneys who make comments about me personally. I received one letter from a former employer who told me that they were surprised by how I was handling this case.  This behavior is not only hurtful but does it really contribute to a resolution of the case?

My hope is that all of the lawyers in our County possess these characteristics. Speaking of all the lawyers in the County, my goal is to more than double our membership this year.  I know that this is ambitious task but if each SCCBA member asks a friend or colleague to join, we will easily achieve this goal. There is no reason why each and every lawyer of in our County should not be a member. The SCCBA is a wonderful organization. It is one of the few organizations where you can get to know the judges and work with them directly in planning and presenting seminars and networking events. The SCCBA allows you to share ideas with your colleagues to improve the legal system. The SCCBA also sponsors a variety of MCLE programs.

Finally, there are many intangible benefits that come from SCCBA membership that are not easily articulated but must simply be experienced. If you know someone that is not a member, please ask them to join or let me know. I will reach out to them and perhaps I can work my magic.

If you are interested in sharing my President’s Message with anyone they can be found at on the homepage of our new website. (I am told that my January article did not get sent out via email to our membership so please take a look at it in the President's Message archives, (the link is at the conclusion of the current month's message) if you missed it in the January Daily Journal.)

Have a good month.

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Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

by Shannon Stein, 2011 SCCBA President

All ready my first month of being SCCBA President has been busy.  I attended many meetings representing our organization.  In early January, I attended the Bench, Bar, Media and Police Committee Planning Group. This Committee, administered by the Superior Court, sponsors off-the-record educational seminars on a variety of topics for Committee members. The Committee is made up of members from the Bench, the SCCBA, the chiefs of police in the County, the media including the Editor of the Mercury News and representatives of the legal press. I also attended the Superior Court's Community Outreach Committee. This Committee is primarily made up of members of the Bench and some community members such as the Superintendent of Schools from San Jose. The goal of this Committee is to make the Judicial System more easily understandable to the community by establishing a speakers’ bureau, having tours of our courtrooms and other community/court activities.  I also had the opportunity to testify before the State Bar Governance Task Force with Chris Burdick, Executive Director and General Counsel of the SCCBA.

 To refresh your memory, this year the State Bar is exploring its governance structure—that is, the composition and selection of the Board of Governors. The 2011 State Bar dues bill, approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in September 2010, included a provision for creation of a Governance in the Public Interest Task Force, charged with improving the public protection function of the State Bar. Appointed by the President of the State Bar Board of Governors, the Task Force is made up of seven lawyers and three public members of the board. It also includes five ex-officio members. By May 15, 2011, the Task Force is to submit a report to the Supreme Court, the Governor and the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees "containing recommendations for enhancing the protection of the public and ensuring that protection of the public is the highest priority in the licensing, regulation, and discipline of attorneys.”  It was an amazing experience to testify before the Task Force about the SCCBA’s recommendations. Before we began testifying, Bill Hebert, the current California State Bar President, encouraged the Task Force to listen carefully to Chris and I as the Santa Clara County Bar Association is one of the premier bar associations in the country and that many other associations, including the State Bar, have looked to our association for input and ideas for programs. (His comments, of course, made me feel even more proud to represent our Association.)

The Task Force seems to be focusing on the composition and selection of the Board of Governors—for example should the Board include more public members, fewer attorneys and/or fewer members overall. The SCCBA’s position is that the Supreme Court should be exercising more direct responsibility over all matters involving public protection activities of the State Bar, in particular, those involving the areas of admission, regulation and discipline of attorneys.  This oversight role of the Supreme Court flows from the Court's plenary power over the practice of law and attorneys. The Legislature and Governor over the years have become increasingly involved in the setting of policy and management oversight of the State Bar through their authority to approve the dues of the State Bar.  This involvement is particularly noticeable when they disagree with a position taken or activity pursued by the State Bar.  It is our position that this encroachment by the Legislature and Governor presents a separation of powers issue that should be addressed before any other substantive matters mandated by the Legislature.   I will keep you informed on the outcome of the Task Force’s work.

Also this month, I attended the SCCBA Installation Night where I and Judge Mary Arand were the key note speakers and my good friend Steve Krause entertained us with his music.  I also helped train our new Board of Trustee Leaders to become acquainted with their new position on the board.
As you are aware my project this year is entitled “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.”   With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I would share with you my advice regarding how lawyers can be leaders in their relationships. Now keep in mind that I am not an expert in marriage or relationships. However, I do practice family law and have seen many marriages and relationships at their worst. Here is my top ten list on how to be a leading lawyer in a relationship. (These are not ranked.)

1) Communication-when things are not going well, talk about them, when things are going great acknowledge that.

2) Don’t make each other “fish” for compliments-my husband always tells me to “stop fishing’ when I ask him question such as how do I look? Or how do you like this shirt? Well, if you tell your partner every now and then that they look great, you like what they are wearing, etc.—they won’t have to “fish!”

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