Solo and Small Firm Section

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News from the Section

Message From The Chair

Terry Szucsko By Terry A. Szucsko

As Chair of the Solo and Small Firm Section, I feel it's my duty to let you know what your membership in the section means. Your membership provides you the resources to grow your law firm and to accomplish your goals by providing what you want most: networking, education, and practice and skills development.

We meet that need through our many membership benefits, including (1) complimentary subscriptions to Big News for Solo & Small Firms, along with the monthly e-newsletter; (2) numerous in-person MCLE programs and webinars throughout the state as well as in-person events for members to network and develop business; (3) the opportunity to write an article for either the e-newsletter and/or the Big News; (4) the opportunity to speak or create a program to speak to our members; and (5) 6 hours of free MCLE credits and discounts with CEB.

We invite all our members to take advantage of these benefits and everything else the section as to offer.

Webinar Replay Series: The Life of a Law Office, from the Inception to the End

Webinar Replay: Opening and Managing a Law Office

Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 12 noon - 1:05 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

The decision to go out on your own: participate in a round table discussion with two solo/small firm practitioners.  Find answers to your questions about how to simply get started, what kind of business form to take, capitalization needed, insurance considerations, client’s billing and recruiting, networking, and more.

Speakers: Anne Adams and Patricia McCabe

Webinar Replay: Starting Up a Law Practice – Incorporation vs. Sole Proprietorship

Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

One of the first issues lawyers have to decide when starting up a solo practice is under what legal entity they want to practice – sole proprietorship or corporation.  Find out how this decision can affect your personal liability, taxes, and even retirement.

Speaker: Shirish Gupta

Webinar Replay: Successful Tools for Opening and Managing a Solo and Small Firm

Wednesday, August 17, 2016, 12 noon - 2 p.m.

This program offers 2 hours participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

Learn from two experienced practitioners successful strategies for opening and managing a solo and small firm practice. Topics will include financial management, professional growth, staff development, networking, work-life balance, and other key critical issues which are vital for solid solo and small firm management.

Speakers: Anne Adams and Patricia McCabe

Webinar Replay: Survival Guide for the First Five Years as a Solo/Small Firms Practitioner

Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 12 noon - 1:05 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

The first five years of soloing are the hardest, most anxious, most fatiguing and potentially most joyful years of practice.  Learn solid tips for not only surviving but actually enjoying these years by identifying and controlling the landmines as well as the areas of untapped growth through careful planning.

Speaker: Eleanor Southers

Webinar Replay: Closing a Solo or Small Firm Practice

Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit in Legal Ethics. You must register in advance to participate.

Steps a lawyer needs to take to close a law practice and the ethical issues that arise when closing down a legal practice will be discussed. You will receive practical advice about how to prepare for and execute this end of practice event.

The program is aimed at both people retiring from the practice of law or joining another law firm or going in-house.

Program Highlights:

  • Rules of Professional Conduct and B&P Codes
  • Timeline
  • Informing clients, courts and the State Bar
  • Protecting confidential information
  • Employees
  • Client trust accounts and other bank accounts
  • Assessing the status of cases and what to do afterwards
  • What to do with the physical items such as files, furniture, etc.
  • Insurance
  • Accounts receivable/payable, mail
  • Rent, mortgage
  • Digital assets such as e-mail accounts, website, social media accounts
  • And more…

Speaker: Shirish Gupta

The State Bar of California 89th Annual Meeting

My Annual MeetingThe State Bar of California 89th Annual Meeting
September 29 - October 2, 2016
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

San Diego, California

Early Bird Pre-Regsitration and Hotel Registration Deadline: August 30, 2016 
Pre-Registration Deadline: September 8, 2016

The State Bar of California returns to beautiful San Diego for the 2016 Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is a multi-day showcase of continuing legal education courses, celebrity speakers, and noted legal scholars. Each day gives you several choices of courses and special events.

The Annual Meeting registration fee is structured to make it affordable to attend. You can select either a Full Meeting Pass or a 2-Day Pass. Special fees are available for Young Lawyers and New Admittees.

Register by August 30, 2016 to take advantage of preferred pricing. Your registration includes:

  • 111 MCLE courses 
  • Up to 19 Hours of MCLE and Legal Specialization credit 
  • Dynamic Opening Day and Closing Day General Sessions 
  • Free Networking Lunch, Morning Coffee Breaks and Evening Happy Hours in the Exhibit Hall 
  • Social events hosted by the State Bar and its various Sections, local bar associations and law school alumni groups

The Section will be presenting:

Program 59

Effectively Running Your New Law Practice

Program 71

Litigating Disability Discrimination Cases from a Plaintiff and Defense Perspective

Program 90

The Basics of Post-Judgment Modification in Permanent Spousal Support

Program 100

What? Living Together in the Same Home is Not Living Separately and Apart?

You can REGISTER ONLINE until September 8. For full information, see The State Bar of California 89th Annual Meeting.

Thank You for Being a Section Member - Here's 6 Hours MCLE in Legal Ethics!

We're very grateful for your membership in the Section. As a token of that, we're offering six hours of self-study MCLE credit in the area of Legal Ethics. The programs are posted in our Member's Only Area.

Simply watch the programs and read the accompanying materials, and keep track of having done so. You can report this to the State Bar when it's time to demonstrate your compliance with the MCLE requirements.

Congratulations to the 2016 Lawyer of the Year Neil Pedersen

Neil PedersenThe State Bar Solo and Small Firm Section is pleased to announce that Orange County (Irvine, CA) attorney Neil Pedersen is the honored recipient of the 2016 Attorney of the Year Award. The award will be presented at the Myer J. Sankary Reception at the Solo and Small Firm Summit held on June 17, 2016 at 5 p.m. at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa.

Neil is deserving of this recognition as his achievements and philosophy towards the practice of law exemplifies the ideals that the Award is meant to recognize. Read a profile of his accomplishments.

Award Presented at The Solo & Small Firm Summit at the Myer J. Sankary Reception: June 17, 2016, 5 p.m., Newport Beach Marriott.

Calling All Sponsors for the Attorney of the Year Award Ceremony!

Interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Cynthia Elkins at:

In the Know: Updates in the Law

McIntyre's Civil Alert
Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. | Relentless Optimist®
Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee
Publisher: McIntyre's Civil Alert  READ MORE

California Supreme Court


Baltazar v. Forever 21, Inc. (2016) _ Cal.4th _ , 2016 WL 1176599: The California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal's ruling reversing the trial court's order denying a motion to compel arbitration on the basis that the arbitration agreement was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The arbitration agreement was procedurally unconscionable because it was written on a preprinted form and offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, making it a contract of adhesion. But the ability of the parties to seek preliminary injunctive relief in the superior court, as is authorized by California Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.8(b), did not render the arbitration agreement substantively unconscionable. (March 28, 2016.) READ MORE

California Courts of Appeal


Ling v. P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc. (2016) _ Cal.App.4th _ , 2016 WL 1169307: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order correcting and remanding an arbitrator's attorney's fees award under the California Arbitration Act (Code of Civil Procedure section 1280 et seq.) The arbitrator exceeded his power by awarding statutory attorney's fees to a defendant employer for work performed in defeating an employee's inextricably intertwined claims, contrary to public policy embedded in Labor Code section 1194's one-way fee shifting provision. The trial court's remedy--correcting the award and remanding to the arbitrator to determine plaintiff's reasonable attorney fees and costs as the prevailing party--was proper. However, the Court of Appeal vacated the trial court's award of attorney fees to plaintiff for her petition to vacate the arbitrator's first award because that fee award was not authorized by either a statute or the arbitration agreement. (C.A. 6th, March 25, 2016.) READ MORE

Update on Ethics

From Ethics Lawyer David Cameron Carr: Experienced Counsel and Representation In Legal Ethics and State Bar Matters. His monthly newsletter is published once per month. This is the April 2016 edition. READ MORE

Trustees Propose Plan to “Disunify” The State Bar of California

State Bar Trustees Dennis Mangers and Joanna Mendoza have proposed a plan to separate out the trade association functions and governmental regulatory functions of the State Bar of California into two separate organizations.  The proposal was unveiled at the April 4 meeting of the Governance in the Public Interest Task Force (GITPITF), a body established by legislation and charged with reviewing the State Bar’s governance structure to insure that the public is protected and to propose changes aimed at that end. READ MORE

Trial Court Improperly Inspected Documents to Rule on Privilege Claim

DC Pham LLC v. C. Tucker Cheadle, Fourth App. Dist., Div. 3, case no. G050964, filed 4/15/16.  Pham entered into real estate deals with Obarr.  Obarr suddenly died, leaving Cheadle the administrator of his estate. Cheadle moved to disqualify Pham’s lawyer, alleging that counsel used privileged communications between Obarr and Obarr’s counsel to defeat summary judgment by another party.  In the course of ruling on the claim of privilege, the trial court examined the allegedly privileged documents in camera and found that they were not privileged and denied the motion. READ MORE

Civil Rights Claims Against State Bar Fail On Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

Scheer v. Kelly, et al.,  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, case no. 14-55243, filed 4/4/16.  Attorney failed to pay fee arbitration award and client complained to the State Bar. The State Bar, though the presiding fee arbitrator, filed an enforcement action to place the attorney on involuntary inactive enrollment pursuant to Bus. & Prof. Code section 6203(d)(2).  Attorney sought review of that decision at the State Bar level without success and file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court, which was denied.  READ MORE

Unpaid Fee Arbitration Award That Triggered Involuntary Inactive Enrollment Subject to Discharge

Scheer v. The State Bar of California, et al., Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, case no. 14-56622, filed 4/14/16.  In a companion case, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the district court that the fee arbitration award that triggered the Attorney’s involuntary inactive enrollment was non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Following the rendering of the fee arbitration award and involuntary inactive enrollment, Attorney filed bankruptcy and gave notice to both the State Bar and the client/creditor. READ MORE

That’s Why They Call It Practice:  Zip It.

COPRAC’s proposed formal opinion 13-0005 can be viewed as extraordinary.  Not for the issue involved or the authorities cited.  The issue is hardly new and the black letter law that the opinion digests so adroitly is not new.  What is extraordinary is that the issue still seems unsettled enough to warrant the very able guidance that the opinion gives us.  Attorneys deal in information and we live in the information age.  Or the Too Much Information age.  Too much of anything, as econ 101 taught us, inevitable leads to that thing being devalued, and it is certainly all of the new possibilities for the quick and cheap transmission of information that make this opinion necessary to try to remind lawyers where the lines are. READ MORE

Tip on Tech

Technology is constantly changing. Is your law firm keeping up on the latest technology and ethics opinions related to that technology? The State Bar of California has several ethics opinions available online which address everything from cloud computing to virtual offices to social media advertising. Make sure you know what technology is available to your Firm and what you need to do to ensure you stay within acceptable ethical guidelines when using it! You can find ethics opinions on general technology here and social media here.  What concerns do you have about technology in your law firm? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please contact to share your experiences.

Section Publications

Big News for Solo and Small Firms

Henry S. DavidOur Section Magazine, Big News for Solo and Small Firms, is back as a quarterly publication. If you are a Section member, you should have been receiving our new and improved magazine. We are currently accepting articles for our Annual Meeting edition. Please contact our editor, Henry S. David at

Practice Books Available for Purchase

The California Guide to Growing and Managing a Law FirmThe California Guide to Opening and Managing a Law Office As a sole practitioner or the head of a small firm, you must act as so much more than just CEO; you also must also wear the hats of Chief Financial Officer, Human Resources Director, Chief Technology Officer, and more. The California Guide to Opening and Managing a Law Office is your personal executive team.

The California Guide to Growing and Managing a Law Office addresses what can be both a lawyer's most rewarding and challenging professional experience. The goal of this book, is to make it less challenging and more rewarding. It picks up where book one, “The California Guide to Opening a Law Office”, left off, exploring the challenges of growing a law practice in detail.

Available in State Bar Sections Bookstore:

Section Member Benefits from CEB!

As dues-paying members of the Solo & Small Firm Section, you are entitled to some special benefits from CEB. READ MORE

Ongoing Opportunities for Self-Study and Participatory MCLE Credit

CLE CalendarCalendar of Upcoming Events

A good source for webinars is the CLE Calendar in the California Bar Journal, showing all of the upcoming webinars from all of the Sections, as well as in-person programs.

Participatory Online CLE

Online CLEDid you know that you can purchase previous webinars put on by the Solo and Small Firm Section? Do so here at this link! Choose from hundreds of hours of official State Bar of California MCLE programs. to see all the programs put on by the Solo and Small Firm Section, see Solo programs. To explore the catalog at large, see

Self-Study CLE

Self-Study ArticlesOnline articles from Section publications are available for self-study MCLE credit. Each article is worth 1 hour of self-study credit. It's easy ... read an article and then take a 20 question quiz. The answers and justifications are available immediately upon submitting the quiz. You can earn up to 12.5 hours of self-study credit per reporting period. For more information, see our online catalog of articles.

Contact Us

Solo and Small Firm Section
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
FAX 415-538-2368

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