California Supreme Court Amends Rules of Court Related to State Bar of California
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday approved two changes to California Rules of Court and rejected two others proposed by the State Bar of California.
The court approved, with modifications, a proposal by the State Bar to amend the California Rules of Court, rule 9.9. The new amended rule will now align with a State Bar rule requiring attorneys to register with the State Bar with information about their practice areas, websites, the number of attorneys at their law firm/agency, whether they have had discipline imposed by another jurisdiction, and other information.
The court also approved the State Bar’s request to add new rule 9.32, requiring all newly licensed attorneys to take the State Bar’s 10-hour New Attorney Training program within one year of receiving their license.
These changes will become effective on Jan. 1, 2024.
The court rejected the State Bar’s request to add the New Attorney Training program requirement to rule 9.49, which governs the provisional licensure program created specifically for 2020 law graduates who had their bar exams delayed due to the pandemic. In a letter to the State Bar, the court denied this request as unnecessary because the provisional licensure program has been closed to new applicants since June 1, 2022.
The court also rejected the State Bar’s proposed amendment to rule 9.8.5, a rule which the court approved last year establishing the Client Trust Account Protection Program (CTAPP). The CTAPP rule requires attorneys to report annually whether they have handled client trust funds in the past year, and, if so, register their client trust accounts with the State Bar.
The proposed amendment would have endorsed a rule adopted by the State Bar that exempted attorneys who are “not entitled to practice law at the time of the reporting deadline for any reason other than voluntary inactive enrollment” from the CTAPP annual reporting requirements. (State Bar Rule 2.5(K)(2).) That exemption includes attorneys disciplined through a temporary suspension. In the letter to the State Bar, the court expressed concern the State Bar had not adequately considered the need for continued CTAPP reporting by suspended licensees, noting that suspended attorneys are not exempt from other State Bar reporting requirements, such as satisfying continuing education hours and maintaining current contact information. The court also noted that the CTAPP rule, as approved by the court last year, requires all licensees to report annually, regardless of their license status. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.8.5(a)(1).)