I hope that everyone’s New Year is starting out with a bang. I am try- ing to remember to write 2012 on my checks (I know, I’m a dinosaur, still writing checks). And January is already gone.
A huge thank you to Judge David Wesley for speaking at our Janu- ary meeting. As Assistant Presiding Judge of the L. A. Superior Court (the largest court system in the country), Judge Wesley is immersed in the court funding issue (or rather the lack of funding) and brought us up to speed on the budget issues, how the Court is dealing with the current cutbacks and what we can all expect if further cuts are enacted. Judge Wesley was extremely generous with his time and answered our numer- ous questions.
I hope you’ll all join me at Truxton’s on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 for dinner and a discussion with Patsy J. Cobb, Deputy Chief Trial Coun- sel for The State Bar of California. Every year, the State Bar hosts a Discipline Day when new and current members of the Board of Gover- nors are educated on the ins and outs of the disciplinary system. I asked if a shorter version of the program could be presented to our members, a mini Discipline Day, if you will. So, if you’ve ever wanted to know how the disciplinary system works, without actually experiencing it yourself, now is the opportunity. Bring an extra business card to be in- cluded in the raffle we’ll be holding.
Leslie M. Baker President
FEBRUARY 2012 MEETING (NOTE THE DATE CHANGE)
WHERE: Truxton’s Bistro, 8611 Truxton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Patsy J. Cobb, Deputy Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar The State Bar’s Disciplinary System
February 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm
90045 (In Westchester off of Manchester Boulevard)
WHY: Good food, good conversation and MCLE credit
HOW: much does it cost? $40 for members / $50 for nonmembers
Leslie M. Baker
President - Elect
David M. Shaby II
Michael Burstein Monica Castagnasso Michael Fate
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, at: 6:00 p.m.
Truxton’s American Bistro, 8611 Truxton Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA. 90045 310-417-8789
To RSVP, call Karena at 310-827-7171
February, 2012 Newsletter
I’M THRILLED WITH THE RESULTS OF .....
our Membership Drive and want to thank everyone who helped, including Mike Burstein and his staff, Gerry Sallus, and especially Chasca (at Golsan, Ziff & Ziff) and Karena (at Dave Shaby’s office) for all their hard work. Chasca and Karena (and their respective employers) really make my job much easier and leave me with time to produce these amusing little newsletters. (Hey, comedy is hard and snarky is time-consuming. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself). We have 75 paid members and are hoping for a few more, so if you know anyone who might like to join, let us know and we’ll contact them. Or you could do the hard work yourself and shoot them an email with the Membership Application (on the website) and give them a nudge. Which leads me to my next item....
If you want to be included in the printed directory that we plan to produce, you absolutely, positively MUST get your Membership Application and dues check ($40 payable to CMBA) in the mail to the Culver Marina Bar Association, c/o Michael Fate, 11100 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232-3988 so that it is received no later than February 28, 2012. So, if you’ve been procrastinating, you really need to get it in gear now.
SPEAKING OF BOOZE
Of course, the caption “Last Call” led me to think about booze, which reminded me that we have a few bottles of wine left over from the Holiday Party. Rather than drink it ourselves, the Board decided to use one of the bottles as a door prize at our next meeting. Sort of a thank you for those who attend even though we switched the date up on you. I’m told that it is very good wine, so that should be even more incentive to join us on February 28th. Personally, I think the good food, scintillating company and MCLE credit should be enough, but some people also like a little vino when they’re out.
CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER
If you are a graduate of Southwestern Law School, you probably know this already but as someone from “back East”, I was not aware that Southwestern is celebrating its Centennial. As President of CMBA, I have been invited to a special Centennial Event in honor of distinguished Southwestern Alumni who have served in the judiciary. From the invitation comes the following: “A century ago, Southwestern Law School opened its doors to all qualified applicants at a time when women and minorities were essentially locked out of the legal profession. The wisdom of the institution’s early commitment to fairness and diversity can be found in its extraordinary list of alumni and in the ideals of the talented men and women it graduates each year. The judiciary especially has been a beneficiary of Southwestern’s policies.” -Hon. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California.
The dinner is February 24, 2012 and will feature the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor as the Special Guest Speaker. Although I would greatly enjoy hearing Justice O’Connor speak, the tickets are $250, which is a little rich for my blood. But if you’re interested, go to
www.swlawjudgestribute.org . And congratulations to the Faculty, staff, students and alumni on this momentous occasion.
We are sad to have to announce that long-time CMBA Member, OWEN RAFFERTY, passed away on December 31. 2011. He was 91 years old. Owen was the Patriarch of a law firm that has always supported our Association and which provided us with at least one Past-President, Mary Bueno Flores. Everyone in the Association would like to express our deepest condolences to Owen’s sons, Frank, Mark and Philip, to the other members of his family, to his good friend and long time associate, Mary Bueno Flores, and to the members and staff of his law office.
I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER
Ever since I was published in a children’s literary magazine when I was 8 years old, I thought I’d be a writer. It never occurred to me that I’d be writing legal briefs; I thought I would be doing something a little more, well, creative. If you’re like me (or if you always envisioned yourself as the next Scott Turow, Steve Martini or John Grisham), now is your chance. The Journal of Legal Education in conjunction with Southwestern Law School, has announced the first JLE Legal Fiction Contest. Submissions must be original short works of fiction related to law school or the practice of law, and winning entries will be published in a future issue of JLE. More exciting than that (because seriously, do you know anyone who reads the JLE?), the judges of the competition include Michael Connelly (who needs no introduction), Denise Hamilton (another great mystery writer and author of “The Jasmine Trade”), Marshall Goldberg (writer on “L.A. Law,” “Paper Chase”) and Charles Rosenberg (legal consultant to the aforementioned shows). Now that’s exciting!
The contest is open to anyone setting a fictitious story in a legal setting or focusing on a law- related character. Submissions must be in prose form, previously unpublished, under 5,000 words and submitted by March 15, 2012. For more details go to www.swlaw.edu/jleweb/legalfictioncontest/. So get your inner David Kelley on and start writing!
I GET MAIL......
1. The State Bar, the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the California State Board of Equalization are holding the 2012 California Tax Practitioner’s Conference on May 24, 2012 at The Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The Conference will provide an educational and networking opportunity for tax practitioners. Topics to be covered include: what’s new in legislation and litigation; tax agency updates; redevelopment agency issues and changes in ownership law for tax practitioners and estate planners. The conference is by invitation only. If you are interested, contact Mr. Juan Flores at (323)980-6839 or Juan.Flores@boe.ca.gov.
2. The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law will be presenting an MCLE event at Loyola Law School on March 2, 2012 focusing on “Making California Family Code section 3190 Counseling Order Work for Your Clients.” The deadline for registration is February 24, 2012. Contact
Ecastillo@hbcfl.org. And if you’re not familiar with the great work that the Harriett Buhai Center does, check out their website at www.hbcfl.org.
MEMBERSHIP AND NEW ON-LINE DIRECTORY
We still have members that have not paid their dues for 2012 and who have not turned in the new membership application form identifying their areas of practice and the status of their affiliations with the Los Angeles County Bar Association. The application is available at our website, at the following web address:
We are in the process of updating our on-line Directory and members who have not paid their 2012 dues or turned in the new application forms may not be listed in the directory when it is completed, so we need to get everyone to submit their application along with their bar dues so that we can update the on-line directory. Please follow the instructions to complete the form and send in your form and your dues ASAP.
WARNING ABOUT SCAMS DEFRAUDING LAWYERS
The following report is being reprinted from the January E-Journal of the State Bar of California:
Counterfeit check scams continue to target law firms
A lawyer receives what appears to be a legitimate solicitation email from a prospective client seeking representation in a debt collection matter. The terms of a relationship, including a fee agreement, may be negotiated. The lawyer then receives what appears to be a valid cashier’s check, supposedly a settlement check from a debtor, from a reputable bank. After the money is deposited in the lawyer’s client trust account, the “client” asks that the funds, less the fees, be wired to a foreign bank.
The cashier’s check was fraudulent and the lawyer is left holding the bag.
This scenario continues to be replayed as part of a sophisticated Internet scam that often targets collection lawyers. The Santa Clara District Attorney’s office recently was alerted by a local law firm that was contacted by a “client” who said his east coast company provided materials to a local medical company that hadn’t paid its bill. The out-of-state company provided legitimate-looking documents, such as contracts and invoices, to support its claim, and the law firm found a website for the client’s company. A retainer agreement was executed.
The client said it would make a last ditch attempt to collect the debt before authorizing a lawsuit. Two days later, the firm received a $270,000 cashier’s check from the medical company. The client told the firm to withhold its fee, plus a little extra, and wire the remaining funds to an account that turned out to be overseas. Despite pressure from the client for the money, the law firm waited for the check to clear.
That never happened.
The alleged debtor was a real company that was not involved with the “client,” who remains unidentified and may be located overseas. According to Santa Clara County Deputy district Attorney Mike Fletcher, the suspects “generated very authentic-looking documents, created a website and are executing a sophisticated scheme with the potential to significantly harm law firms.”
But in addition to winding up with an overdrawn bank account, victims can face State Bar discipline and damage to his or her reputation. In order to help lawyers avoid being taken in, the bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibil- ity and Conduct (COPRAC) issued an ethics alert earlier this year describing both how the scams work and how lawyers can protect themselves.
The scam leaves the lawyer appearing to have retained a client, triggering various ethical duties governed by professional responsibility rules. The ethics alert offers both a warning and suggestions for how lawyers can protect themselves.
“If it is too good to be true, it usually is,” the alert concludes. “Hitting the delete button may be the best course of action for the attorney, not to mention those caught up in the cascade of adverse consequences of a successful scam.” The FBI reports the debt collection scam is well-known and occurs nationwide. Another scheme has the fraudulent client posing as an ex-wife “on assignment” in an Asian country and pursuing collection of divorce settlement funds from her ex-husband in the U.S. Once a law firm agrees to represent the wife and contacts the ex-husband, it receives a “certified” settlement check. As with other scams, the wife instructs the firm to wire the funds, less its retainer fee, to an overseas bank account.
If funds are sent before discovering the check is counterfeit, the firm is left in the lurch.
The FBI urges firms or victims of an internet scam to file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center
February 21, 2012 February 28, 2012
March 1, 2012 March 11, 2012 March 20, 2012
CALENDAR AT A GLANCE
Fat Tuesday. You can eat anything you want and it won’t have any calories!
Patsy J. Cobb, Deputy Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar on Discipli- nary Process, Truxton’s, 6:00 pm. Warning: the dinner you eat will con- tain calories.
Board of Director’s Meeting at The Warehouse Restaurant at noon. Daylight Savings Time begins. (It feels like it just ended!).
Monthly meeting. Topic will be criminal law.
Editor: Michael Fate