Photographs Inspired by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ~ Gene Dominique.
Exhibit at Alameda County Law Library, May 1st ~ May 31st. Monday ~ Friday 8:30 to 4:30.
Exhibit at Alameda County Law Library, May 1st ~ May 31st. Monday ~ Friday 8:30 to 4:30.
The website ~ GovTrack ~ now provides a way to track the text of Congressional legislation when that language has been cut and pasted from another piece of legislation. The language may have been enacted but not under the bill number that introduced it.
All too often Congress cuts bills apart and pastes them back together—sometimes into an “omnibus.” The bills that finally get a vote are an amalgam of provisions from other bills that either can’t or won’t get a standalone vote themselves. The most important legislation is crafted this way.
The site will even flag a bill when some of its provisions have been incorporated into another bill that was enacted. For enacted bills, the searcher will be able to note which other bills had “text in common” with the enacted legislation.
Below is a chart from GovTrack showing how common this situation has become in recent legislative sessions.
The City of Oakland is marking National Small Business Week (May 1-6, 2017) with a series of workshops and events. See more
Legal related programs include:
Tuesday May 2 9 a.m. – Noon
Legal Issues for Businesses
Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 2
This workshop addresses many of the legal issues of critical importance to the formation and success of new and existing small businesses. The topics covered include: How to choose the best type of legal entity for your business; How to deal with government regulations affecting your business; How to determine whether your workers are employees or independent contractors and the types of insurance you should have for your business.
Trainer: SCORE Eastbay
To register: http://bit.ly/1XrXFtW
and later on Tuesday
2 – 4 p.m.
Navigating the City of Oakland
Oakland City Council Chamber, 3rd Floor, Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (14th Street at Broadway)
Your one-stop workshop to learn all about City of Oakland programs and services, as well as permitting and licensing requirements for small businesses. Hear City staff across several departments talk about what Oakland has to offer to local entrepreneurs and business owners. The workshop includes presentations, Q&A and a resource fair for existing and aspiring businesses owners to get the information and answers they need for their businesses to launch, grow and thrive in Oakland.
1:30 – 2 p.m. Registration
2 – 3:30 p.m. City of Oakland Department Presentations
Oakland City Council Chamber
3:30 – 4 p.m. City Departments Resource Fair Oakland City Hall Rotunda, 3rd Floor, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (14th Street at Broadway)
To register: http://bit.ly/1XrXFtW
(Link for Part 1 – Legal Advice – of this post can be found – HERE.)
People can and do represent themselves in court. They are called “pro per” or “pro se” litigants. When they file papers with the court, instead of identifying an attorney as their representative on their papers, they write that they are “pro per” or “pro se” in the space where the paper identifies the name of the attorney who is representing them. People also draft their own legal transactional documents, such as, deeds or simple trusts.
If you plan to represent yourself in court or in a business venture, you can get assistance with the paperwork without hiring an attorney.
Legal document assistants or unlawful detainer assistants (LDAs or UDAs) are not attorneys but are professionals who can provide certain legal services under your direction. They are knowledgeable in completing legal paperwork. Their fees, as compared to attorneys’ fees, can be more affordable. UDAs provide assistance in a court process during which a landlord seeks to have a tenant evicted or pay rent that is owed – an unlawful detainer action.
The profession is governed by the CA Business and Professions Code 6400 et seq. An LDA or a UDA must complete the legally required education, maintain a $25,000 bond, and register with the county in which they intend to work. They must inform clients that they are not lawyers in their first interaction, disclose their registration number, registration expiration date, and county of registration, and provide clients with a “Notice to Consumer” prior to conducting business, acknowledging that assistants have provided that information. More info here.
Notaries, under California law, cannot provide legal assistance services. A notary or notary public serves the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents. These official acts are called notarizations, or notarial acts. Some LDAs (and attorneys) may also be notaries but not all notaries are LDAs.
Notarios or notarios publicos, who in other countries are highly trained legal professionals akin to attorneys, are not allowed to practice law under California law. Many non-attorneys conduct business as immigration consultants or notarios. In the current session (2017) of the California legislature, a bill has been introduced to eliminate this type of legal assistance unless the individual is an attorney or authorized by federal law due to widespread fraud and abuse by many individuals.
For current LDA/UDA registration information in Alameda County, you can visit, in person, the General Business department at the Clerk-Recorder’s offices. On the Alameda County website, you can search in the Index by name for the last filing of the required professional bond by an individual.
For low or no-cost help with step-by-step completion of court or other legal forms, your best bet is to attend one of the legal clinics described within this document.
The ACLL staff are not able to sit down with you to complete legal forms. They provide guidance for resources that can help you complete the forms yourself.
There are many websites and blogs that provide reliable legal information – too many to mention here individually. Check with a reference librarian at ACLL for recommendations for your topic. Or try an internet search using different browsers. Different browsers bring up different results. Remember that paid advertisements are placed first on results list by internet companies. Check out different sites – looking for “.gov” or “.org” at end of a sites URL or internet address. These will be non-profit or government websites.
Bankruptcy – Pro se/Pro bono services affiliated with the United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of California.
Oakland Public Library has a special Lawyers in the Library session dedicated to bankruptcy questions on the first Wednesday of the month.
Criminal records – Clean Slate program – The Alameda County Public Defender provides help with cleaning up your criminal record within the county.
Consumer justice – EBCLC has a clinic every Thursday 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, clients can receive advice or limited scope assistance with civil legal issues including consumer law, DMV, small claims, tort defense and homelessness
Domestic violence restraining orders – Family Violence Law Center, 1-800-947-8301
BALI – Bay Area Legal Incubator – new program for young attorneys getting started in their profession providing legal assistance at affordable rates. BALI offers frees clinics, check the website.
When people offer to assist you with legal advice in exchange for payment of money but are not attorneys, this is called the unauthorized practice of law (CA Business and Professions Code 6125 et seq.) and is illegal. Contact local law enforcement, the Alameda County Bar Association, or the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to report activity.
Ask yourself first – what help do I need?
“The law” does not always provide you with simple this-or-that or yes-or-no options. Your situation will involve individual facts that will need to be reviewed in light of current law – cases or statutes (federal or state or even another county.) It can be complicated. That is why there is a legal profession. There is a good reason that the profession and the public relies on special information collections housed in law libraries like the Alameda County Law Library. There is an incredible amount of legislative, regulatory, and court case information that needs to be organized, retrieved, and analyzed to answer legal questions. Lawyers and self-represented parties need to do research to make sure the law they are relying on is up-to-date. New laws are enacted and cases decided on a daily basis. The law changes constantly. Just look at what is happening in Washington, DC, these days.
There are many sources of legal information but only a lawyer, who is a licensed professional, can provide you with legal analysis and advice on your options.
In the US, states license lawyers. In California, this organization is the State Bar of California. You may hear references to organizations such as the Alameda County Bar Association but these are professional organizations. Joining these local groups does not allow a member to practice law in the area.
In the US, the terms “lawyer” and “attorney” are used interchangeably. A litigator is an attorney whose legal practice centers on going to court or keeping clients out of the courts. A transactional lawyer is someone whose practice focuses on giving advice and drafting documents related to legal transactions, such as, starting a business or setting up a trust.
To begin, here are some resources that will provide you with things to think about before you hire an attorney:
From the State Bar’s website – “What can a certified lawyer referral service do for you?”
Yellow pages, TV, legal newspapers. Caution – such advertisements are paid marketing. The TV ads with phone numbers usually will direct you to a call in-take center.
Legal Aid (low cost or no cost pro bono. Pro bono is short for pro bono publico, a Latin term that means “for the public good.”)
Criminal – Alameda County Public Defender. From the AC Public Defender’s website – Overview
Overview – If you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, you will be assigned an attorney from the public defender’s office. Our office’s practice consists predominantly of criminal defense litigation. We defend adults and juveniles charged with crimes ranging from petty-theft to capital murders. The office also defends individuals subject to involuntary psychiatric, civil commitments and conservatorships.
Additionally, our office represents individuals in certain specialty or collaborative courts, such as homeless court, drug court and mental health court. Most collaborative courts look to alternatives to incarceration in order to provide individuals with the services and treatment that they need.
Non-criminal – You may be able to connect to an organization that provides free or low-cost legal assistance for non-criminal matters. Your eligibility for these services depends on your level of income and/or the subject of your legal problems. Some organizations handle a variety of issues. Some focus on serving certain social demographic groups. Some offer classes or clinics to assist you in handling your own legal problems.
Alameda County legal aid organizations that handle a range of issues:
There are many others that focus on certain clientele – for example, Legal Assistance for Seniors.
Pro bono – you may receive a referral from a legal aid organization to a private attorney willing to forgo a fee or take a reduced fee for your type of case.
Pro bono should not be confused with the term “pro se” or “pro per” – a term used when a non-lawyer represents him or herself in court proceedings. A non-lawyer can represent his or her own legal interests but is not allowed to represent another party.
The Volunteer Legal Service Corporation (VLSC) is the pro bono arm of the Alameda County Bar Association. VLSC provides free legal aid to low-income people in Alameda County through pro per legal clinics staffed by volunteer attorneys. The goal is to assist people in learning how to represent themselves.
Not all legal issues are handled by pro bono legal services. At the ACLL Reference Desk, we are regularly asked where to find a pro bono attorney for a probate case. The Alameda County Superior Court’s Probate Court hears cases related to personal and financial affairs of adults and children. The Probate Division handles guardianship for children and conservatorships for incapacitated adults. There are legal aid groups that serve members of these communities. The Superior Court’s Self Help center will give some help for establishing guardianships and conservatorships.
Most people have heard the phrase “probating a will” – the distribution of assets when someone dies. Or what can be more complicated for heirs – “dying intestate” – without having written a will. It is not easy to obtain pro bono legal services when legal matters involve claims for valuable assets – such as a case about who inherits a house or bank accounts. Legal aid groups do not usually handle these types of matters unless the party involved is a minor or disabled and therefore incapable of handling business matters for themselves.
On Part 2 (coming soon) of this post will be covered two other approaches to handling the need for legal services:
Online registration for the 2017 Witkin Symposium is available – HERE