Category Archives: California Lawyer

Public Comment Requested: CalBar Board Committee of Member Oversight Asks, “What is an MCLE?”

Dragon-weathervane-1As stated in the headline, The State Bar of California Board Committee on Member Oversight seeks to amend the definition of what qualifies for proper MCLE credit in the state of California.  Apparently, some confusion has arisen regarding whether CLE programs may only contain substantive law versus whether they may encompass other ares of law practice and/or law practice management.  Here's the issue in Calbar's language:

"The proposed rule amendment clarifies and eliminates ambiguity as to what constitutes permissible and credit-worthy MCLE. Additionally, the change also expands the scope of acceptable MCLE to programs and activities that relate directly to the management and operation of a member’s law office and to mediation training."

Concurrently, CalBar's Task Force on Admissions is in the process of evaluating the implementation of a pre-admission practical skills training program.

Folks, these issues are near & dear to my heart. Obviously, as the incoming Chair of CalBar's LPMT Section, I have a few opinions on this subject.  Considering that most law schools don't spend much time focusing on what successful candidates should do once they arrive in the real world of law practice, I feel that limiting continuing legal education offerings to substantive law-only would be a huge detriment to newbie attorneys as well as veterans.  At least, that's what we see from the attendance at our CLE programs.

Therefore, I ask that you examine the proposed amendment, then make your voices heard.  Public comment remains open through September 8th, 2012.

California AG Establishes Privacy Enforcement & Protection Unit

MP900431800The announcement of this new Unit, which is to be a part of the eCrime Unit, has drawn a lot of skepticism around the 'net.

Here's the official statement from Attorney General Kamala D. Harris' Office.

I only have one question?  Why do people always feel the need to crap on everything before they give it a chance?  Would it be better if public officials didn't at least try to address existing privacy concerns?

I suppose this is why they say, success has many parents; but failure is an orphan…

Some Solo Summit Summaries

MP900439267As I mentioned yesterday, I'd intended to write this post earlier in the week.  The Solo Summit ended this past Saturday and I wouldn't want the information to become stale; but this isn't that kind of post.  Yes, I'll tell you all about the Summit, but your takeaway should be that, if you're a solo or true small firm in California, you really should consider attending next year's Summit.  Since it began in 2009, its been growing every year – and for good reason.

Here's a sample of the education you had to choose from:  Marketing your practice, balancing your personal/professional life, avoiding discipline, mediation, setting up a litigation war room, health care, the iPad in law practice, human resources and risk management, fee arbitration, free legal resources for lawyers, emerging practice areas, client trust accounts, employment, privacy, confidentiality & security (my presentation), elimination of bias, estate planning, bankruptcy, avoiding malpractice, eDiscovery, tax, appellate practice, family law, expedited jury trials, time management and IP.

There was CLE credit available in all specialty areas.  That's a lot of bang for the buck!  Naturally, as the incoming Chair of LPMT, I was curious what attendees thought of the programs.  I have to say that virtually all of the feedback was positive.

And my program?  The room was completely full (I estimated about 75 people) and again, feedback was extremely positive (as usual, I didn't finish).  In fact, I can't recall a presentation I've done that resulted in as much follow-up by attendees as this one.  I'm not sure if it was due to the material or the type of conference.  But, I did receive many questions about cloud security and was pleased to inform those people that I – along with my LPMT colleague, Donna Seyle – will be presenting on that very subject at the State Bar's Annual Meeting in October; and it'll be 90 minutes.  Maybe we'll actually get through our entire program!

So, why do I highly recommend the Solo Summit?  We estimated attendance at about 285, and a prime benefit was the relative intimacy of the conference that allowed people to mingle and meet at breakfast & lunch (which were provided), during breaks and of course, in the evenings.  As much as I enjoy the annual meeting, it's much larger and those types of impromptu conversations are much more difficult to achieve because you're always on your way…somewhere.

What would I do differently?  Move the coffee bar next to the stage.  That way, people would never leave…

e-Discovery California: Upcoming Presentation: CalBar Solo Summit


Just a reminder that Friday, June 22nd, 2012 from 9:45 – 10:45 am, I'll be presenting Program 16: They See You When You're Sleeping: Attorney Privacy Confidentiality & Security for one hour of specialty ethics MCLE credit at the State Bar of California Solo & Small Firm Summit, which is being held this year at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach.  Here's a brief synopsis:

A preview of the soon-to-be-published book, “Growing and Maintaining Your Law Office”. Attendees will learn about ethical obligations to protect attorney-client privacy, confidentiality and security — both personally and via the smart-phones, computers & software they use daily.

I look forward to seeing you there!

eDiscovery California: Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001 (Social Networking) Raises an ‘Adject’ Issue

MP900442339First, my disclaimer:  This is a State Bar of California Opinion – and I'm Vice-Chair of their Law Practice Management & Technology Section Executive Committee (LPMT).  I want to remind you, "This blog site is published by and reflects the personal views of Perry L. Segal, in his individual capacity.  Any views expressed herein have not been adopted by the State Bar of California's Board of Trustees or overall membership, nor are they to be construed as representing the position of the State Bar of California."

The last time I analyzed one of these, it pertained to VLOs.  I found that Opinion much more difficult to address.  Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001 (Social Networking) is easier in some respects, because its main purpose is to apply current California rules (specifically, Rules of Professional Conduct:  Rule 1-400 Advertising and Solicitation and sections of the Business and Professions Code) to what it refers to as, "social media websites".  That's where the trouble begins; with the adjective.  We'll get to that in a moment.

There's no reason for me to do a dissertation on 1-400.  California attorneys should already be familiar with this Rule (or they can look it up, above).  Suffice it to say, for our purposes, this can be like Jeopardy, because we need ask ourselves two questions:

  1. What is a communication?
  2. If a posting is determined to be a communication, is it an advertisement or solicitation?

The only major problem I have with the document is Footnote Two on Page One (link opens the 6-page PDF).  It attempts to describe Facebook "friending" as an example of what it considers a "controlled" group.  It doesn't seem to take into account that, like Twitter, et al, your control group can republish your post (e.g. Re-tweeting).  My view?  Continue to treat your posts as if they're visible to the entire world!

Page Five reminds us of Rule 1-400(F):  "…the Committee notes that a true and correct copy of any “communication” must be retained by Attorney for two years. Rule 1-400(F) expressly extends this requirement to communications made by “electronic media.” If Attorney discovers that a social media website does not archive postings automatically, then Attorney will need to employ a manual method of preservation, such as printing or saving a copy of the screen."  [italics added]

Gulp!  How many of you remembered that part of the Rule?

Concluding, the Opinion has an adject(ive) issue.  It refers to "social media websites", but it also refers (as it should, in my opinion) to general attorney websites.  If I were to make one glaring modification to this document, it would be to find the phrase, "social media website(s)" wherever it appears, and replace it with, simply, "websites".

The qualifier serves no purpose.

By the way, if you'd like to comment on the Opinion, the 90-day period is open through 5pm, July 2nd, 2012.

Calbar’s LPMT Section is Now on Twitter & Facebook @calbarlpmt

LPMT SealThis is a bit of a coup for us, folks.  Only a select few of the State Bar of California’s Executive Committees have been awarded proprietary social media accounts, and LPMT is fortunate to be one of them.  So, if you’d like access to another source of up-to-date news and information about Law Practice Management and Technology – directly from your representatives at the California Bar – please ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or ‘follow’ us on Twitter.

You don’t need to be a member of LPMT – or even a member of the Bar!  All are welcome, so we encourage you to join us and take a peek at our offerings as we’re adding new benefits all of the time.

e-Discovery California: Wow – I Coulda had a VLO!!!

MP900315631Happy Holidays, everyone.  I'm about 2/3 of the way through my book-writing and with any luck, I hope to submit most of my remaining contribution before New Years (that is, if I don't succumb to the most wonderful time of the year – Bowl Season!).  Hopefully, then, I can get back to posting here more often.

In the meantime, I have some homework for you.  The California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) has posted, "Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0003 (Virtual Law Office)" for public comment [Warning; link opens a 7-page PDF].

I'm currently working on an in-depth analysis of the proposal and hope to post it next week, but when I first scanned the opinion, my mind wandered to the law of unintended consequences.  I'll reserve commenting further until I've completed my analysis, however, I encourage you to familiarize yourselves with the opinion – whether you personally make use of a VLO or not.  After all, (and it pains me to say this), it isn't all about you; the attorneys at the other end of your communications may make use of a VLO.

The public comment period remains open until March 23rd, 2012.  Hope to see you before the ball drops, but if not, please be safe and have a great holiday!

Start Spreading the News…LegalTech NY 2011, Jan 31 – Feb 2

This year, for the 1st time, I’m attending LegalTech New York.  I was on the fence about it, then there was this thing about “legitimate” legal bloggers being offered complimentary attendance.  Apparently, being selected by the ABA for their Blawg 100 makes me legitimate.  Who knew?

Membership has its privileges…

You may have noticed that I’ve been toying with Typepad’s alternate posting options because I intend to do all of my posting live via my PDA.  It’s not quite as robust (embedding images and links are doable, but very clunky) however, it allows me to elaborate on the spot – without the character limitation of Twitter (although my posts automatically propogate to Twitter as well).

Anyway, I’ll be attending full days Monday and Tuesday, so if you’re going, I look forward to seeing you there.

eDiscovery California: CA State Bar Ann’l Mtg


Trial is over…verdict came in yesterday.  I got my life back – for about 3 minutes…

Next on the docket?  If you're attending the California State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey at the end of the week, yours truly is on a panel presenting CLE (continuing legal education) program #54, entitled "e-Discovery Translating — Lawyers from Mars; Techies
from Venus: Beginning e-Discovery
" from 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon Friday, September 24th.

You may recognize the title.  It comes from an article I featured this past May, written by my good friend and colleague on the LPMT Executive Committee, Robert Brownstone, for California Lawyer magazine, who will moderate the panel.  Another colleague from the Committee, Cynthia Mascio, is joining us as well.  It's going to be a lot of fun – and educational for you, we hope.

See you there!