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2 We represent plaintiffs in serious injury and death cases due to vehicular accidents, product failures, medical malpractice, and other forms of negligence and misconduct. For over 30 years, we have been committed to serving our clients unique needs. Standing: Larry E. Cook, Michael D. Meadows, Thomas Seaton, Andrew C. Schwartz; Seated: Nick Casper, Stan Casper All four partners have been named Northern California Super Lawyers, and the firm has maintained Martindale- Hubbell s superior AV rating for 20 years. Both Casper and Schwartz are certified civil trial specialists with the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and Casper and Cook are past presidents of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. It s easy to see why the bulk of our cases come from other attorneys referrals. We value our professional referral sources 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA Phone: (925) Fax: (925) Contra Costa Lawyer - Display Ad - 1/2 page horizontal: 7 3/16 x 4 11/16 Contra Costa Lawyer - Display Ad - 1/2 page vertical: 4 11/16 x 7 EXPERIENCE AND INTEGRITY FOR OVER 30 YEARS AND MEDIATION CENTER Specializing in accountings for: Trusts Probates Guardianships Conservatorships A unique and effective style - a great mediator Candice Stoddard Ron Mullin Barbara Hasey 1128 Daniel Lane Concord, CA Willows Office Park p 1355 Willow Way, Suite 110 Concord, California Telephone (925) p Facsimile (925) Standing: Larry E. Cook, Michael D. Meadows, Thomas Seaton, Andrew C. Schwartz; Seated: Nick Casper, Stan Casper


4 inside 2010 BOARD of DIRECTORS Ron Mullin President Kathy Schofield President-Elect Audrey Gee Secretary Jay Chafetz Treasurer Larry Cook Ex Officio Richard Alexander Amanda Bevins Christopher Bowen Oliver Bray Mike Brewer Leigh Johnson Kristen Thall Peters Alan Ramos Ron Rives Dana Santos Stephen Steinberg Candice Stoddard CCCBA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Lisa Reep: CCCBA main office: Jennifer Comages Membership Coordinator Emily Day Systems Administrator and Fee Arbitration Coordinator Manny Gutierrez Administrative Assistant and Legal Interviewer EDITOR Candice Stoddard CO-EDITOR Nicole Mills BENCH LIAISON Hon. Mary Ann O'Malley BOARD LIAISON Candice Stoddard COURT LIAISON Kiri Torre PRINTING Steven's Printing PHOTOGRAPHER Moya Fotografx Kerstin Firmin Communications Coordinator Barbara Tillson LRIS Coordinator Michele Vasta Section Liaison/Education & Programs Coordinator CONTRA COSTA LAWYER EDITORIAL BOARD Mark Ericsson Matthew P. Guichard Patricia Kelly Craig Nevin David Pearson Erika Portillo Andy Ross Dana Santos Kathy Schofield Audrey Smith Stephen C. Steinberg Marlene Weinstein The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN ) is published 10 times a year by the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA), 704 Main Street, Martinez, CA Annual subscription of $25 is included in the membership dues. Second-class postage paid at Martinez, CA. POSTMASTER: send address change to the Contra Costa Lawyer, 704 Main Street, Martinez, CA The Lawyer welcomes and encourages articles and letters from readers. Please send them to: Kerstin Firmin, CCCBA, 704 Main Street, Martinez, CA 94553; or to: The CCCBA reserves the right to edit articles and letters sent in for publication. All editorial material, including editorial comment, appearing herein represents the views of the respective authors and does not necessarily carry the endorsement of the CCCBA or the Board of Directors. Likewise, the publication of any advertisement is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product or service offered unless it is specifically stated in the ad that there is such approval or endorsement. Big Changes Are Coming To The Contra Costa Lawyer! We here at the Lawyer are excited to tell you that next year you will see a brand new Contra Costa Lawyer Magazine. We have changes big and small coming- some you have already seen, some will get a sneak peak in this issue and some will begin rolling out in January. The Lawyer is entering the digital age. Although we have long had a.pdf version of the magazine online, it was not really user friendly. That is going to change. An entirely new online format will allow us to provide you with a fully searchable, easy to use online magazine. We will start publishing this online companion to the Contra Costa Lawyer every month beginning in February Every other month (i.e., January, March, May, July, September, November) we will also publish a new and improved hard copy version. This change allows us to provide you with a higher quality print magazine with more color, more photos and a wider range of content. The new online/hard copy format has some distinct advantages. First, it is consistent with the Contra Costa County Bar Association s mission to Be Green. In one move, we have cut our paper consumption in half, as well as all of the energy used in producing and sending out the magazine. Second, the new online format provides certain advantages to those who write for the magazine and those who choose to advertise in the magazine. As marketing efforts move online, our authors and advertisers can take advantage of the ease with which online content can be linked and shared, generating hits on Google and improving search engine visibility (for more tips on online marketing, check out Ken Matejka s article, Marketing Your Practice Through Google ). Third, the online format provides us with more publishing flexibility. This means that we need your articles! The Lawyer is making a concerted effort to provide ALL of the Bar Association members with the opportunity to publish their articles! If you think of a timely, interesting article- write it and send it in! If you need guidelines, we have them posted on the Bar Association website. We want to hear from you and we are hoping that the new online format allows us to print articles that are timely, interesting and that come from a large variety of writers, so don t be shy! Another change you will notice is columns. We are working hard to keep the magazine interesting and informative for everyone. One new column, that we are previewing in this issue, is Bar Soap. Part movers and shakers, part gossip column, this is where you will see the goings on of the Contra Costa County Bar. If you have news you want to share, this is the place to do it- us and let us know! You might be noticing by now that we are asking for your participation, be it via articles, news tidbits, or what have you. That is because the Contra Costa Lawyer is YOUR magazine. It is about YOU and it is for YOU. To make it the best it can be, we need YOU to be a part of it too. On a more personal note, I want to formally introduce myself as the incoming Editor of the Lawyer for next year, and extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to Candice Stoddard, who has been at the helm of this wonderful magazine for the last three years. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I hope you enjoy the new changes next year! u by Nicole Mills Co-Editor, Contra Costa Lawyer 4 November/ December 2010

5 COUNTED AND TALLIED MEMBERSHIP SURVEY RESULTS Thank you to all CCCBA members who participated in our membership survey this fall. More than 200 of you participated and helped shape key decisions for CCCBA communications and publications, including the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. What follows is a brief summary of survey insights into our membership, its opinions and makeup. The full membership survey results can be found on our website, at THE TOP THREE CCCBA BENEFITS, RANKED BY IMPORTANCE: Fosters a positive reputation for the profession. Provides me with information on my area of practice, keeping me current. Develops positive relationships between the bench and bar. THE TOP THREE MEMBERSHIP SERVICES AND FEATURES: Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Section service/membership Contra Costa Lawyer magazine COMMUNICATIONS: The preferred methods of communication are and the Contra Costa Lawyer. 74% of respondents indicated they frequently read the print version of the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine, while only 11% frequently read the online version. 50% never read the online version. 59% of respondents are aware of the Weekly Broadcast CCCBA Events, Announcements and News. Of those that are aware, 89% feel the frequency is just right and 93% feel the amount of content is just right, indicating a high level of satisfaction. 40% GENDER 60% FIRM SIZE PRACTICE 60% male 40% female Solo practice 55% 2-5 attorneys 24% 6-10 attorneys 9% attorneys 1% attorneys 1% 20+ attorneys 11% AND THE WINNER IS... Congratulations, Kirsten Barranti of the Barranti Law Group! 82% of respondents are in private practice. The top five practice areas are: Litigation (35%) Business law and corporate law (24%) Family law (23%) Estate planning, probate & trusts (21%) Real estate: commercial & development (18%); residential and landlord -tenant (16%) Thank you for participating in our survey - as a token of our appreciation, you will receive your choice of the following prices: CCCBA basic membership for 2011 or $50 cash! Contra Costa Lawyer 5

6 president s message by Ron Mullin It's hard to believe that the Holidays are almost upon us. With the end of this year fast approaching, thoughts turn to the reflection of events and milestones of the past year while looking forward to the opportunities that the new year holds. When I took over the reins of the Bar Association last January, I knew that this year was going to be a challenge. Our economy was at the bottom of an historic and depressing recession. Law firms were contracting, clients were disappearing and priorities in consumer spending did not include elective spending on legal services. Taking stock of our position at that time, the Board of Directors was cautiously optimistic that the 15% decline in revenues predicted by the American Bar Association did not seem to be holding true for the CCCBA. It wasn't until March that we began to notice that our membership numbers were falling off, but more importantly, that there was a decline in the amount of revenue from our Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). Fees from the LRIS account for about 25% of our annual revenue. We acted quickly to the threat of expenses outpacing revenues. One staff position in the CCCBA office was eliminated and our Treasurer, Jay Chafetz, worked with staff to review and revise our budget to respond to the declining revenues. Shortly thereafter, the Board adopted a revised budget and carefully monitored our revenues and expenditures. In May it became clear that John F. Kennedy University's Elder Law Clinic would be closing as of June 30th. The Clinic provided legal assistance to seniors who have been victimized by financial abuse. The program was very successful, perhaps the victim of its own success. It was predicted that demand for services would double over the next few years. In assessing the situation, I felt that this well used community resource could not be allowed to simply fade into oblivion. I rallied the stakeholders and other interested parties to look at alternatives. CCCBA Board member Alan Ramos provided the guidance and assistance to help put together a business plan for a new program that would be called the Elder Law Center, which was to be operated by the non-profit legal services corporation, The Law Center. The law firm of Ramos, Nevin and Steele in Walnut Creek graciously offered to host the program in their offices. The CCCBA Board authorized the expenditure of $30,000 as seed money from the Bar Fund, which is the vehicle for charitable contributions from our legal community to be used exclusively for support of nonprofit legal services. The Association also sponsored a Gala Reception honoring retired Judge Norman Spellberg who is well known and loved for his support of The Law Center and the support of programs focusing on pro bono legal assistance to those in need. The event was held on November 4th and was a rousing success, raising $55,000 towards the new ELC program. This year also saw the roll out of the new CCCBA website, the transition from strictly print oriented media for Contra Costa Lawyer magazine to digital format and the hiring of a new communications coordinator, Kerstin Firmin. Kerstin replaced Nancy Young with whom CCCBA contracted for many years. Besides saving money, the transition brought CCCBA into the digital age with a goal of serving you better by providing consistently better communications from the Association. Additionally, CCCBA revised and updated its bylaws to comply with new laws, and reviewed and updated policies and procedures that guide all of the operations of the Association. As a result of our budget revision and cost cutting measures, we will end this year with about $20,000 favorable to the revised budget. It has been an honor to serve as President of CCCBA in 2010, and a real pleasure to work with the members of the Board, the Bench, our Sections and our wonderful staff. None of this would be possible without the tireless efforts of Lisa Reep, our nationally renowned Executive Director. I wish all of the best to you and yours in the coming year. CCCBA is a great organization and well serves the interests of our legal community and the public on your behalf. u Ron Mullin, a lawyer in this county for over 30 years, dedicates his practice to estate planning, wills and trusts, conservatorships/guardianships, business and commercial law, real property, and business formation. He also acts as mediator and arbitrator for disputed cases. 6 November/ December 2010

7 We didn t just write the book on employment and labor law. Actually, we wrote several books on the subject. We also write tons of articles, briefings, compliance tools and webinars, all of which are valuable, some of which make our website an education in itself. Learn more about how our more than 750 employment and labor attorneys help companies protect their most valuable asset their employees. For additional information, please contact Michael E. Brewer, Esq Littler Mendelson, P.C Treat Boulevard, Suite 600, Walnut Creek, CA Will & Trust Litigation Elder Abuse Litigation Conservatorships B A R R & B A R R A T T O R N E Y S 318-C Diablo Road Danville, CA (925) Edward E. Barr (retired) Janet M. Li Loren L. Barr* Christopher M. Moore Joseph M. Morrill Konstantine A. Demiris Ruth Koller Burke Tracey McDonald, Paralegal *Certified Specialist, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization Contra Costa Lawyer 7

8 By Justice James Marchiano IN THIS FOURTH ACCOUNT OF CASES FROM DEPT. 47, JUDGE CARLTON CONFRONTS INCARCERATION Loss of hope plunges the possibilities of tomorrow into a mirage. On a spring day in 2008, Judge Raymond Carlton, now close to retirement, thought about the absence of hope as he presided over the jury trial of People v. Sonny Campo, CR09236, in Department 47 of the Bray Building in Martinez Sonny Anthony Campo, the déjà vu defendant whom the jurist remembered. Sonny Campo had been convicted of robbery from a Wells Fargo Bank in Because of a prior strike offense, he was sentenced to eight years in state prison where he was one of 158,000 prisoners within the California Department of Corrections. Sonny was 42 years old then, and had never held a steady job since coming out of foster care His memory was never the same and he responded inappropriately to stressful situations. He applied for SSI payments, but never followed through on finalizing his application. Jobs were scarce for him. His sister, local churches, and non profits helped him to survive. Hope did not spring eternal for Sonny Campo. Sonny s legal troubles involving Judge Carlton first began on a nondescript Wednesday morning in June of Sonny found himself out of money, food, and hope. Wearing a black overcoat on a hot day, he shuffled into the Concord Wells Fargo Bank on Willow Pass Road by Todos Santos Plaza. He waited until no other customers were in the bank, hurried to teller Teresa Redding, and Loss of hope plunges the possibilities of tomorrow into a mirage. at age 18 without a GED. He barely remembered the life-changing altercation years ago outside of the College Lane Bar in Martinez when a ponytailed, tattooed dude with whom he had been jawing, crushed his head with a glass beer bottle. The neurosurgeon at Merrithew County Hospital said the blow fractured a portion of his skull, damaged the temporal lobe and affected his amygdala. 8 shoved a crumpled note and a shopping bag onto the counter. The note said: Give me mony (sic), I have a bom (sic) in my poket (sic). The plan was simple - grab the money, race three blocks to Clayton Road, and escape on BART in any direction. Ms. Redding said she could not read the scribbling and asked a perspiring Campo what he wanted. When he mumbled money, bomb, she understood and nervously reached into a drawer where marked, explosive dye money was kept in case of a bank robbery. She put the money in the bag, including a dye pack. Campo grabbed the bag and raced out. Ms. Redding hit the alarm button and the teller next to her called 911. Concord Police Officer Jack Strout, who happened to be on foot patrol across the street in Todos Santos City Park, received a dispatch call about the robbery and a description of the perpetrator. He saw black-coated Campo a block away walking hurriedly toward Clayton Road. Strout easily caught up with Campo, stopped him, and arrested him as the money bag billowed a small red cloud from the chemical reaction of dye. Public defender Joyce Sawyer negotiated a plea bargain with the district attorney, who was initially seeking a 12-year sentence due to Campo s record of past failed probations and a burglary strike when he was caught in a garage stealing a bicycle. Judge Carlton accepted the plea and sentenced Sonny Campo to eight years in state prison on December 23, Campo spent the next seven Christmases in three different state prisons, November/ December 2010

9 finally residing at Salinas Valley State Prison, one of 4500 inmates in a facility built to house Each day was the twin of yesterday: inmate Campo rising at 6:15am, breakfast from 6:45 to 7:30, work detail, lunch, yard exercise, return to work, dinner, some TV, and lights out at 10:00pm. Campo became accustomed to the pungent smells and adjusted to the dense living and cacophonous noises emanating from the cellblock. Few in this penal warehouse seemed concerned about his rehabilitation. He sporadically attended some self improvement programs and worked in the laundry room, doing the same assignment every day. He folded bed sheets and neatly loaded them onto a cart, hundreds every day, stacked like choreographed shrouds always lying in the same perfect position. By the time of his parole two days after Christmas in 2007, Sonny Campo s circadian rhythms were so programmed that he awoke daily at 6:14am just before the wake-up alarm and he navigated through the day as if on automatic pilot. At exactly the same time each day he took his meals and fell asleep by 10:15 each night. His inner clock was as precise as a Swiss timepiece. As he withdrew into the unvaried routine in his prison world, he developed a sense of relief in not having to make decisions about his daily life since he did not have to decide what to do next, where to eat, what to eat, or where he would work. Repetition was its own reward. Campo had lost his existential identity. Once on the outside in 2008 homeless and jobless he could not deal with the changes of the new millennium and became one of the faceless state unemployment statistics. His sister was unable to provide him with help. Like a stray with no permanent place to live, he moved from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. After three months of hopeless living, barely surviving on food stamps and handouts from church food pantries, he looked back at his prison life with nostalgia and made plans for tomorrow. So now Judge Carlton listened attentively in Department 47 as the evidence unfolded before the jury. Public defender Joyce Sawyer again was assigned to represent Sonny Compo. She was a veteran of courtroom wars where she capably resisted the onslaughts of prosecutors. Her client could not bring himself to plea bargain when the case came to trial even though he was facing a three-strikes, twenty-five years to life sentence. Drawing on twenty-eight years of defending accused persons, Ms. Sawyer studied the contradictions in Campo s life and crafted a unique defense. Prosecution witnesses explained in Department 47 how Sonny Campo returned to the same Wells Fargo Bank in Concord, coincidentally presenting a note to the same teller, Teresa Redding, who gave him a dye-packed bundle of $20 s. He walked out, headed to the BART station where, without any resistance, he was apprehended by Concord police officers. Like a battlefield tactician who allows the enemy to come to her, Sawyer allowed the facts to develop with little cross-examination except to accentuate the similarities between the two crimes and the markedly similar ineptitude. In defense, she called psychologist Dr. Jonas Bergstrom, an expert on the institutionalization syndrome. In a compelling, understandable manner, Dr. Bergstrom explained that Sonny Campo had developed a dependence on life in an institutional setting, resulting in depersonalization so that he was unable to cope with the demands of everyday living. In this spirit, he committed the crime, not with a plan to keep the bank s money, but with the hope of getting caught so that he might return to prison life. Dr. Bergstrom also explained the results of a battery of psychological tests that showed a profoundly impaired personality caused in part by Campo s Give me mony (sic), I have a bom (sic) in my poket (sic). brain injury. Sawyer delivered an eloquent closing argument as she described a desperate, hopeless man, conditioned to life in prison, who did not intend to permanently deprive Wells Fargo of its money. Robbery required the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of property. But Campo s intent was to stage a robbery, temporarily take the money and get caught; the money would be returned and he would return to prison. It was all a déjà vu charade. Judge Carlton listened and thought this Kafkaesque character had a win-win situation. If the jury bought the argument, Sonny Campo would be found not guilty of robbery. If not, he would realize his hope to return to prison life. As he sent the jury out to do justice in their deliberations, the judge reflected on hope revived and wondered about Sonny s tomorrow: Would Sonny Campo be found guilty of robbery or guilty of an inability to survive on the streets of Contra Costa County? u This is the fourth installment of Justice James Marchiano's "Stories from the A.F. Bay Courts Building". To read the first three stories, please visit our website, and click on Contra Costa Lawyer, Article of the Week. WANTED Conservatorships think Matt Toth as in Pedder, Hesseltine, Walker & Toth, LLP oldest partnership in Contra Costa County (since 1955) p f Golden Gate Way, P.O. Box 479 Lafayette, CA AV Martindale-Hubbell Contra Costa Lawyer 9

10 MARKETING YOUR PRACTICE WITH By Ken Matejka It is widely known that Google's market share for online searches in the United States is dominant - about 70% to 80% depending on the information source.what isn't as widely known is that for law-related searches, Google's market share is overwhelming - over 90% by some estimates. Even when the ultimate referral source is a directory, a Bar Association, or some other website, chances are that Google was the point of origin for the search. Consequently, advertising with Google on the first page of the search results is very important for local service providers, including lawyers. If you are thinking about marketing your law practice on Google, but are not sure whether you should take the plunge, here are ten reasons why Google advertising can be an excellent and inexpensive source for leads for your law practice. 1 RELEVANT - React immediately to events in the news, changes in the law, or even your own personal whims. Unlike more traditional forms of marketing like the Yellow Pages, you do not have to worry about planning your ad copy months in advance. 2 TARGETED - Reach people outside of your geographic area - people in other cities, the entire state of California or even other countries. This is especially helpful if you practice an esoteric area of law, or if you are looking for plaintiffs for a class action lawsuit. If you are a personal injury lawyer, you may find that injured tourists often return home before beginning their search for a Bay Area attorney - advertising on Google makes it easier for them to find you. 3 FIT FOR EVERY BUDGET - Pay as much or as little as you want and adjust the timing of your advertising to your needs. No matter what your budget is, you have an unlimited amount of flexibility. Having cash flow issues, too busy or going on vacation? Pause your advertising until you re ready to resume. Not enough work? Spend more this week to get a few extra inquiries. 4 REAL-TIME FEEDBACK - Get real feedback about how well your Web site converts visitors into clients. Google allows you to track conversions and other important data about your Web site visitors. If your data is telling you that a page on your site is a top exit page (i.e., visitors often leave your site from that page), you can experiment with different looks for that page, creating more conspicuous calls to action, trying different copy or stock photography. 5 SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION - Google advertising is the easiest and most effective way to ensure that your web site is visible in search engines. Even if your site ranks well for certain phrases, you cannot rank well for 10 November/ December 2010

11 the thousands of words and phrases that are relevant to your practice areas. Also, for new or poorly optimized sites, search engine marketing may be the only way to ensure that people can find you on the Internet. 6 PAY-PER-CLICK - You pay only when someone clicks on your ad. It doesn t matter how many impressions there are (that is, how many times your ad is viewed). Google only charges you for actual clicks - which means you are paying to reach visitors who are actually interested in your services. The Law Offices of David M. Lederman there is an extremely high likelihood that he or she is trying to fill an immediate legal need. 7 KEY WORDS - Google advertising 8 MESSAGING - You can test is highly targeted, allowing you to bid only on keywords that are relevant to your practice. You can have 10 or 10,000 keywords - as noted above, you pay only when someone clicks your ad! If someone types "Walnut Creek Divorce Lawyer" into a Google search box, different messages in your ads. Research what messages are most effective in driving visitors to your Web site to make contact with you, and use that information in your future marketing materials, including in your website copy. By looking at the rate people are clicking on your different messages, you can find out whether people in your community prefer that you are "affordable" or "friendly" or "experienced" and carry that message throughout your website copy. DAVID M. LEDERMAN Certified Family Law Specialist State Bar Board of Legal Specialization TOM SMITH Associate Attorney Practicing exclusively in all aspects of Family Law in Walnut Creek and Antioch 3432 Hillcrest Avenue Suite 100 Antioch, California Lennon Lane Suite 102 Walnut Creek, California Phone Fax Youngman, Ericsson & Low, LLP 1981 North Broadway Suite 300 Walnut Creek, CA Tax Lawyers. 9 FLEXIBLE - Depending on your practice needs and goals, you can advertise only in the search engines and only when someone searches for your keywords, or you can extend your reach to appear on mobile phones, Google Maps, online and print newspapers, television, and anywhere else that the search engines allow you to advertise. 10 GO DIGITAL - Yellow Pages are dying. Google is rapidly replacing the Yellow Pages as consumers' preferred method of getting information about local products and services. In conclusion, there s no time like now to divert some of your marketing dollars from other channels to Google advertising to reach the rapidly growing number of prospects looking for legal services on the Internet.u - Ken Matejka is a California attorney and managing partner of LegalPPC, a San Franciscobased company dedicated to helping solo practitioners and small law firms get more client s from the Google search engine. (925) Contra Costa Lawyer 11

12 FIRST STEPS TOWARD A LAW FIRM SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICY By Randy Wilson Let's say your firm hires a new lateral. After he starts work, it comes to light that he badmouthed his old firm on Twitter. The legal blogs pick up the story, it goes viral and suddenly the news about your firm's exciting new star gets replaced by gossip about a disgruntled partner who said rude things about his former employer. Or maybe you have an attorney at your firm who maintains his own blog unmonitored by the firm and trips over conflict issues or uses your firm's logo, branding, or messaging in potentially damaging or embarrassing ways. Does your firm have a clear policy explaining its stand on social networking to prevent problems down the road? Dangers of LinkedIn Recommendations Social networking issues arise with all law firm employees, not just attorneys. These issues range from lost productivity checking Facebook or staff soliciting others for LinkedIn recommendations. For example, if a paralegal solicits a LinkedIn recommendation from a partner who agrees to give him or her a glowing recommendation, this could pose problems if the paralegal is subsequently terminated for cause and sues. Every employee should be counseled about the use of LinkedIn recommendations. Companies and law firms use social networking in the hiring process While there are risks associated with companies allowing their employees to use social networking, it is a useful tool, particularly during the hiring and screening process. According to a study published in 2009, Harris Interactive found that 45% of all employers use social networking to screen candidates. That number jumps to 53% for professional services such as law firms. The top three social networking sites for employer screening are Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. Employers reported that 35% of the time they found content that discouraged them from hiring candidates with the top three red flags being inappropriate photos, evidence of drug use or excessive drinking, and badmouthing a previ- 12 ous employer. However, they also found content on those sites that made them more likely to hire someone, for instance a profile that documents the candidate's relevant skills and talents or that the candidate's personality seems like a good fit. But there are liability risks in doing so Employers need to be aware that researching job candidates by using social networking websites has its legal downsides as well. There are local, state, and federal laws regarding race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and so on that protect individuals against discrimination. If a candidate who falls into one these categories posted information that reveals such pertinent, personal information on a social networking website,and if that person can prove that a potential employer viewed such information before denying them a position, it could result in liability on the employer's part. How should law firms cope with these issues? First, a policy should be developed with input from partners, associates, staff, administrative managers, IT, marketing and human resources. Those tasked with writing the policy should be educated in how social networking works, appropriate and inappropriate use and the pitfalls as well as benefits. Next, this group's role needs to be ongoing as this will be the first version of a policy that will evolve. November/ December 2010

13 Social networking isn't going away, but it's also likely to look very different within the next couple years. Your policy will have to evolve with the technology. Cracking down doesn't work Law firms must first face the reality that social networking has loosened control over communications with employees, clients, prospects and the larger society. If they don't and instead enforce draconian measures, they will create poor morale, viral bad press, stifled creativity and brain drain. Once the new reality is accepted, law firms can craft a policy that encourages appropriate use of social networking during working hours and beyond. Employees must face a new reality, too. They put their careers at risk by inappropriate use of social networking. That's why it's essential that the firm's social networking policy include a training component. Employees have a strong incentive to use social networking to benefit their organizations, but they need to know how the appropriate use of social networking will benefit them. Privacy, privacy, privacy While a law firm's social networking policy should address a number of functions - legal and business risks, appropriate and inappropriate behavior - the critical issue is privacy. If employers and employees understand how to protect their privacy, they can avoid many of the problems inherent in social networking. It is critical to understand the terms and conditions of social networking sites which outline how the site uses their information. All users of any given social networking site also need to understand the privacy settings of these sites, including whether they automatically make a user's information public. Facebook & Google Buzz privacy controversy This was what Facebook did by default and they were sued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Out of that litigation, Facebook agreed to change its privacy settings so that users can choose to make content public rather than having to proactively choose to make it private. It is expected that more social networking sites will follow suit. However late last year, Facebook changed its privacy settings causing even more controversy because privacy groups say the company is making more personal information publicly available. Class action lawsuits have been filed. Now Google's new social networking application, "Buzz", has been attacked for similar types of issues that make Gmail users' private information public. Before companies set up "fan" pages or profiles, they need to know exactly what kinds of privacy setting and rights they have by agreeing to participate in a social networking platform. The same goes for individuals setting up their personal profiles. Risks of innovation The rise of social networking, like all innovations, follows a predictable pattern. There is the initial gee-whiz factor and the blank stares from most people when early adopters enthuse over the latest innovation. Then there is broader adoption and the ensuing hype over how Twitter is a panacea. Then a backlash develops based on exaggerated claims, ignorance and fear. Finally, the technology becomes such a basic part of doing business that it no longer garners unusual attention. Society by then is on to the next innovation. Right now, we are in the backlash stage, and law firms that are educated and act with common sense and thoughtfulness can develop policies that give them confidence that their use of social networking is just another part of business as usual. u - Randy Wilson is an attorney, legal marketing consultant and frequent presenter on various marketing and social networking topics. He also blogs about law firm social networking, practice info and marketing tips at rlwilsonconsulting. Previously published in The Bulletin, this article is reproduced with permission of the Alameda County Bar Association. Earn one hour of general MCLE credit by reading the article and answering the questions of the MCLE Self-Study test on the following page. Send your answers, along with a check for $20, to the address on the form Contra Costa Lawyer 13

14 MCLE SELF-STUDY FIRST STEPS TOWARD A LAW FIRM SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICY SELF TEST Law firms should seriously think about developing social networking policies. True False Making a LinkedIn recommendation is harmless. True False Fifty-three percent (53%) of professional firms use social networking sites for screening job candidates. True False LinkedIn is the #1 site employers use for screening job candidates. True False More than half the time professional services employers find content that discourages them from hiring a candidate. True False There are local, state and federal laws that protect some individuals against use of social networking sites for screening purposes. True False Social networking policies should be developed with assistance from the company s HR department. True False If you write a social networking policy, your company won t have to think about the issue anymore. True False Draconian social networking policies are the only way to ensure that your workforce remains productive. True False Employees have an incentive to use social networking to assist their employer. True False Facebook has been very reluctant to share personal information about their members. True False Facebook has been subject to class action lawsuits over its privacy standards. True False HOW TO RECEIVE ONE HOUR OF MCLE CREDIT Answer the test questions on this page, choosing the one best answer to each question. Mail this page and your payment for $20 to CCCBA at the address below. Name State Bar # Firm Name Address City, State, Zip Phone Visa MasterCard Amex Check (payable to CCCBA) Carholder Name Card Number Expiration Date Signature Please mail or fax the completed form to: CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION Attention: Michele Vasta 704 Main Street, Martinez, CA (ph) (f) 14 November/ December 2010

15 2011 MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL DRIVE Renew online - It's fast and easy! The 2011 Membership renewal drive is in progress - It's easy to renew online at The first 250 members to renew online will be entered into a drawing to win a CCCBA Advertising Package of their choice (print, online, or weekly broadcast) worth $ Elder Law is Alzheimer s Planning The average survival rate is eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer s some live as few as three years after diagnosis, while others live as long as 20. Most people with Alzheimer s don t die from the disease itself, but from pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or complications from a fall. Until there s a cure, people with the disease will need caregiving and legal advice. According to the Alzheimer s Association, approximately one in ten families has a relative with this disease. Of the four million people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer s disease, the majority live at home often receiving care from family members. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer s, call elder law attorney Michael J. Young Estate Planning, Disability, Medi-Cal, Long-term Care & VA Planning Protect your loved ones, home and independence. n San Miguel Drive, Suite 220 Walnut Creek, California MARK V. MURPHY Congratulations! Personal Injury Referrals Requested Over 25 years experience representing injury victims. Practice dedicated solely to Personal Injury. Each client given prompt, courteous attention. Antioch and San Ramon Offices Hon. Alfred Chiantelli (Ret.) Hon. Richard Hodge (Ret.) Top 50 Neutrals, Daily Journal 2010 EFFECTIVE NEUTRALS. Dorene Kanoh, VP 50 Fremont St., Ste San Francisco, CA tel Hon. Laurence Kay (Ret.) Jeffrey Krivis, Esq. Hon. Bonnie Sabraw (Ret.) AFFORDABLE RATES. Dorene Kanoh, VP 152 North 3rd St., Ste. 603 San Jose, CA tel Contra Costa Lawyer 15

16 Gala ReceptiOn We gratefully acknowledge our GALA SpOnsOrs in support of the Elder Law Center Platinum Celebrating Judge Norm Spellberg (ret.) for his lifelong contribution to the Contra Costa Legal Community Archer Norris Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook CCCBA s Conservatorship, Guardianship, Probate & Trust Section CCCBA s Real Estate Section CCCBA s Women s Section Judge Norm Spellberg with his Royal Likeness n GOld John A. Hartog JAMS JFK University Mechanics Bank Miller Starr Regalia Morison Holden Derewetzky & Prough, LLP Gala Committee members Geoffrey Steele and Elva Harding with CCCBA President-Elect Kathy Schofield Silver Carroll, Burdick & McDonough CCCBA s Litigation Section Frankel & Goldware, LLP Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines Guichard, Teng & Portillo Littler Mendelson s Walnut Creek Office McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Brothers, LLP Mullin Law Firm Shapiro Buchman Provine LLP Timken Johnson Hwang LLP Elisabeth Talbot, Ericka Ackeret, Natasha Chee, Crystal Van Der Putten, Nick Casper and Matt Talbot Hon. Barry Baskin and Hon. Susanne Fenstermacher 16 November/ December 2010

17 Bill Gagen, presenting an award to Judge Norm Spellberg David Pastor, Matt Guichard and Ericka Portilla Mike Markowitz, Judge Judy Craddick, Andy Schwartz and Lynne Yerkes On November 4, 2010, about 200 people came together at Walnut Creek s Lesher Center to honor Judge Norman Spellberg, to raise funds for the reconstituted Elder Law Center and to learn the proper care and treatment for a rattlesnake bite (more about that later). The event, which included a silent auction, raised approximately $55,000 for the Elder Law Center, which provides pro bono legal services to Contra Costa County residents who are 65 and older and are victims of elder financial abuse. Originally begun by John F. Kennedy University School of Law, the Elder Law Center is now run as a collaboration between The Law Center and the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Judge Norman Spellberg was the guest of honor in recognition of his many years of service to the Contra Costa legal community, his service on the Bench, and his particular service to the elder members of our community who are in need of legal representation. Judge Spellberg then regaled those in attendance not with words of legal wisdom, but with a tale of adventure: there were rattlesnakes! Forests! Questionable attendants! Steep hills and raging rivers (ok, maybe not raging rivers, but a river at the bottom of a hilldoesn t have quite the same pizzaz). Those who heard the tale will never be quite the same again. u To see more photos of the Gala Reception, visit the Contra Costa County Bar Association's Facebook page! Robin Pearson and 2011 Presiding Judge Diana Becton-Smith Judge Norm Spellberg with his son Jeff and his Domestic Partner, Connie Armerding Ed Shaffer and John Hartog Bill Gagen, CCCBA Executive Director Lisa Reep and CCCBA President, Ron Mullin Oliver Bray and Larry Cook Contra Costa Lawyer 17

18 Nevin, Ramos & Steele Pro Bono Champions Provide a Home for the Elder Law Center This year s rescue of the Elder Law Center (ELC) was quite a feat, requiring the dedication of many organizations and even more individual members of the Contra Costa legal community. Originally known as the Elder Law Clinic, the program was established by Teri Cannon during her tenure as Dean of the Law School at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU). Dean Cannon recognized the growing need for a non-profit legal clinic that would focus on elder financial abuse and other elder issues. Remarkably, she developed a wide-ranging and inclusive advisory board consisting of governmental and nongovernmental organizations working together. Once up and running, the ELC flourished under the direction of Virginia M. George, its first managing attorney. The Law Center ( TLC ) was established in 2004 by CCCBA members Scott Reep, Susan Aglietti and Leann Schlegel. Each year, TLC assists hundreds of Contra Costa County s no-income and very low income residents, including many senior citizens, overcome a lack of meaningful access to justice by connecting them to legal service providers and Pro-Bono attorneys. In early 2010, some five years after the inception of the ELC program, Virginia M. George was selected by the Contra Costa Superior Court to temporarily replace retiring Commissioner Don Green as Probate Judge. At the same time, JFKU's School of Law determined that it could no longer sustain the Clinic and began the process of closing the program. Seeing a vital resource for victims of elder financial abuse vanish, CCCBA President Ron Mullin and board member Alan Ramos began working to find a solution. In collaboration with the CCCBA, they have rallied the legal community to allow the continued work of the ELC. Ramos secured the support of his partners and the board members of TLC. Nevin, Ramos & Steele assisted the effort by providing a key ingredient: a home for the ELC. Alan Ramos recalls, We saw an immediate need for the ELC to have an organizational structure and a physical location from which to conduct its activities. While TLC/ELC provides its own administrative support, our firm extended an offer of office space, telephone service, a computer network and ancillary office support to TLC/ELC. Similarly, TLC board members knew what had to be done. We were surprised when JFKU announced the closing of the ELC. Something needed to be done and it made sense for TLC to incorporate and try to resuscitate the ELC before it was shuttered, according to Geoffrey Steele, current President of The Law Center. This type of private-public collaboration fills a crucial yet underreported need. There is an epidemic in this country which is every bit as dangerous as the H1N1 virus, urges Alan Ramos. Elder financial abuse affects every community. Many of these victims have saved their whole lives to afford a comfortable retirement in their Golden Years. Unfortunately, perpetrators from door to door salespeople, internet scammers, care providers, and, more often than not, their relatives - see them as easy prey. Such crimes often go unreported, primarily because the victims are generally isolated, trusting and vulnerable. The newly incorporated ELC can provide those elderly victims with the opportunity to obtain pro bono counsel to assist them in regaining their lost assets. In our county, the need for these services will only continue to grow. The California Department of Aging projects that there are approximately 203,146 citizens in Contra Costa County who are 60 years or older. The fastest growing segment of the population in Contra Costa County is the 85+ age group. Over the next 10 years, this group is predicted to skyrocket by 55%. Thanks to pro bono champions like Nevin, Ramos, and Steele, ELC will be there to fill the growing need. Looking ahead, the partners are already busy planning the next steps. Craig Nevin explains, This will be a very exciting time. Incorporating the ELC and a Staff Attorney into TLC and combining that with TLC s organization, model, infrastructure and the over 100 TLC Panel Attorneys, will allow, yet again, a substantial increase in the amount and the coordination of Pro Bono legal work in the area. This of course will allow many more people to be helped. The CCCBA gratefully acknowledges Nevin, Ramos & Steele for its dedication to the ELC and pro bono legal work in general. For more information on the ELC, to become a Panel Attorney, of for any additional information, please contact David Kam, TLC s Pro Bono Coordinator, at (866) or Samantha Sepehr, ELC s Staff Attorney at (925) u 18 November/ December 2010

19 ELDER LAW 2011 TRAINING SERIES Sponsored by CCCBA's Moderate Means Program and its Elder Law Section When: Thursday nights, January 20 March 3, 2010, from 5:30 8:00 p.m. (refreshments provided) Where: Contra Costa County Bar Association: 704 Main Street, Martinez, CA MCLE Credits: Registration Fee: Each session will provide 2 hours of MCLE Credit, including 1 hour legal ethics for the January 20 th session $75 for qualifying attorneys* willing to take 2 Moderate Means cases and 2 Pro Bono cases through the Elder Law Center - or - $1,200 for all others To register, contact: Barbara Tillson, CCCBA (925) or TOPICS Session 1 - January 20 th Intake: Sensitivity training; effective communication with elders; general issue-spotting; and family dynamics, including who is the client Session 2 - January 27 th Capacity & Competency issues Session 3 - February 3 rd Guardian Ad Litem; Conservatorships; Powers of Attorney (general and healthcare); Private Fiduciaries; Personal Representatives, including Trustees; and other selected issues Session 4 - February 10 th Benefits & Resources: Medicare, IHSS, HMO s, Veteran s benefits, medical eligibility for long-term care, public benefits such as SSI; resources such as other service providers and in-home care Session 5 - February 17 th Elder Abuse: Financial, physical: Different aspects of abuse & what to look for Session 6 - February 24 th Substantive other law: including housing & consumer issues, medical malpractice, unlawful detainer, etc. Session 7 - March 3 rd How to prepare/present your case in mediation and/ or court Each class will be taught by highly respected Bay Area attorneys and judges who specialize in this field. Participants will be provided with a binder with helpful reference and review materials * Over 50% of the member s practice shall be in Contra Costa County and the member shall maintain at least one office in Contra Costa County Contra Costa Lawyer 19

20 DEER VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL LAW ACADEMY WINNER OF STATE BAR AWARD In September, at the State Bar's Annual Meeting in Monterey, the Deer Valley High School Law Academy (DVLA) received the 2010 Education Pipeline Award, an honor awarded by the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California. Nominated by the Contra Costa County Bar Association, DVLA received this honor for its "outstanding efforts of law-related educational programs that train and support students to become interested in the judicial system and careers in the law". Launched in 2009, DVLA creates a source of engagement for the diverse student body in the school district. "The DVHS Law Academy accomplishes multiple goals. The program successfully provides student awareness about the judicial system and knowledge about the legal profession. Equally important is the fact that persons of color are encouraged to enter the pipeline of successful, rewarding Award Recipients, including Deer Valley High School representatives Scott Bergerhouse, Co-Principal (front, center); Janet Muirragui, Law Academy Teacher Leader (front, right); Dan Mahoney, Law Academy Principal (front, second from right); Clarence Isadore, Co-Principal (front, second from left). careers in the law," explains Richard Frankel, Chair of the DVHS Law Academy Advisory Board and Partner in Frankel & Goldware, LLP. By providing hands-on learning experiences and attorney role models and mentors who can teach, inspire, and support students to college and career pathways, DVLA helps expand the diversity pipeline of applicants for the legal profession. This positive focus on diversity and hands-on learning forms the foundation of the DVLA and helped propel it to the top of the State Bar's list of nominees for the 2010 Education Pipeline Award. Congratulations, DVLA! For more information on the Law Academy, and to find out how you can get involved, please contact Michele Vasta at or visit our website at - Photos courtesy of Dennis Chin, Board Member, Alameda County Bar Association 20 November/ December 2010

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