The Board Operations Committee of the State Bar Board of Trustees voted the following resolution today at its meeting in San Francisco.
RESOLVED, that upon the recommendation of the Board Committee on Operations, the Board hereby agrees to be the sponsor of Assembly Bill 1515, with the understanding that the following elements are contained in the bill:
• Adds duty for attorney to deposit into client trust account advance fees for legal services and to withdraw only when earned •
• Includes “fixed” or “flat” fees •
• Permits fixed or flat fees to be earned and withdrawn in stages if agreement specifies the stage and amounts •
• Permits exemption for advance fees in criminal and bankruptcy cases, where services involve representation in court •
• Permits the Board to add an exemption
And that staff and legislative advocates continue to work with all interested parties to resolve concerns.
The full Board of Trustees will vote tomorrow and it seems unlikely that they will not adopt this resolution. Exempting the criminal defense bar removes the main source of opposition to AB 1515.
In the past, these details would have worked out before the Legislation was introduced through the Board’s process. In this case, the Board was presented with a bill that had already been introduced, and not only AB 1515, but also AB 851, and asked to jump on the boat after it had already shipped anchor. The State Bar is an organization in transition but its not totally clear what it is transforming into.