Profile in Practice: Jeffrey G. Adachi

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile attorney Jeff Adachi:

CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?

Jeff: I currently serve as the elected Public Defender in San Francisco and have worked as a criminal defense trial attorney for my entire career. My passion for this work came with a case involving an innocent man who was on death row. I worked on the case for seven years and decided I wanted to be a public defender. Continue reading

Copyright Law in the World of Social Media

Social media — including Facebook and Twitter — has quickly become part of our daily lives. User generated content (UGC), including images, video, audio, and text, are uploaded everyday without thought as to whether it is protected under copyright law. But some are starting to ask questions on the limits of copyright in social media. Is a single “tweet” on Twitter entitled to protection? If not, what about a string of compiled tweets? Continue reading

District Court Grants Federal Marriage Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

A district court judge in Massachusetts has held that same-sex spouses and surviving spouses are entitled to federal marriage benefits, including federal employee health benefits, Social Security survivor benefits, and joint tax returns. Gill & Letorneau v Office of Personnel Management (D Mass, July 8, 2010, Civil Action No. 09–10309–JLT) 2010 US Dist Lexis 67874. Continue reading

Mobile Lawyering on the Move

The ABA Journal reports the results of its recent survey showing the rise of mobile lawyering:

Seventy-one percent of ABA members surveyed say they sometimes telecommute, and they are working in a variety of places. Lawyers are telecommuting at home (88 percent), in hotels (32 percent), in others’ offices (21 percent), in public places such as libraries or courthouses (14 percent), and in coffee shops and cafes (12 percent).

Of these lawyers on the move, 79 percent said they use BlackBerrys or smartphones, and legal research is among the work being done away from the office. Although attorneys are not abandoning their brick and mortar offices for entirely virtual ones, the trend appears to be a more flexible mix of the two. The New Jersey State Bar recently encouraged rule changes in that state’s judiciary to make the practice of law more open to virtual offices.

For a great program that will give you an overview of some of the latest and most cost-effective equipment and services to help you go more mobile in your law practice, check out CEB’s program Jeff Allen and Tony Vittal on Integrating Technology into Your Law Practice, available On Demand. You’ll even get 3 hours of MCLE credit in legal ethics!

© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The Power of an Apology

An apology is not only a potentially powerful moral act, but it can be a powerful tool in deterring or settling a lawsuit. This power was described in a recent California Bar Journal article, which discussed how actor James Woods backed off his hard-line refusal to settle with the hospital where his brother died after a heartfelt apology from the hospital’s president.

By contrast, a botched apology can exacerbate the conflict and become itself the subject of conflict. It is thus extremely important that any attorney considering a client apology as part of a case resolution understand some of the attributes of a well-executed apology. Continue reading

ABA To Consider Measure Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

Update: The ABA voted overwhelmingly to support same-sex marriage.

At its meeting on August 5-10 in San Francisco, the American Bar Association will consider adopting a measure supporting same-sex marriage. The measure is sponsored by 14 groups and urges state, territorial, and tribal governments to eliminate laws restricting marriage between same-sex partners.

As reported by, the measure’s supporters claim it will build on past ABA policies supporting protections for gay couples and their families, including a 2004 recommendation opposing efforts to enact federal legislation preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage. There is no formal opposition to the measure.

On same-sex marriage in relation to domestic partnerships, check out CEB’s award-winning book California Domestic Partnerships, chap 4A (Cal CEB 2005).

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© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Attorneys Slammed for Unethical Loan Modification Activities

As reported in the California Bar Journal, the California State Bar is clamping down on attorneys who prey on distressed homeowners. Three more Southern California attorneys have been prohibited from practicing law based on their foreclosure-related misconduct and thousands of other investigations are underway. Interestingly, the errant attorneys often do not have direct contact with the homeowners, who instead deal with non-lawyer representatives of the loan modification companies.  

Real estate brokers and agents get into trouble over loan modifications more often than attorneys, and when they do, they seek an attorney to represent them before the Department of Real Estate (DRE). CEB’s California Real Estate Brokers: Law and Litigation (Cal CEB 2009), covers this issue (along with broker responsibilities in short sales).  The issues involved in representing someone before the DRE and in any subsequent appeal are covered in California Administrative Hearing Practice (2d ed Cal CEB 1997).

Loan modifications are often an excellent tool to avoid foreclosure, but they are apparently also fodder for unethical behavior. On proper workouts of problem loans, including loan modification agreements, see CEB’s California Mortgages, Deeds of Trust, and Foreclosure Litigation §§10.23-10.24 (4th ed Cal CEB 2009). Also check out CEB programs RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGES: Litigation, Short Sales, Loan Modifications and Other Alternatives to Foreclosure and Foreclosure: The Future in California, both available On Demand.

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© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Justice George’s Surprising Retirement Timed for Schwarzenegger Replacement

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George announced yesterday that he is retiring after 38 years on the bench while he is “at the top of [his] game.” SF Gate reports that Justice George wants his successor to be appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, expressing “a great sense of reassurance in the exemplary level of appointments this governor has made” and in his “commitment to the judicial branch.”  

Schwarzenegger must appoint a successor by September 16th for that person to appear on the November ballot, explains the San Jose Mercury News, which reports that the governor’s office said it will “begin immediately working to fill the position.” The position heads both the state Supreme Court and the California Judicial Council, the policymaking arm of the state court system.

Justice George has been an influential judicial figure, writing important rulings on many issues, including the decision in In Re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 C4th 757, 76 CR3d 683, which declared the right of gays and lesbians to marry. On recognition of same-sex marriage in California, including a discussion of In Re Marriage Cases check out CEB’s California Domestic Partnerships §§4A.1-4A.8A (Cal CEB 2005).

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© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

File a Claim or Forget Your Suit Against a Public Entity!

Most lawsuits seeking money or damages against a public entity or public employee acting within the scope of  employment, must be preceded by a proper administrative claim under the Government Claims Act (formerly known as the Tort Claims Act) (Govt C §§810–998.3). The reasons for the claims presentation requirements are very practical: They give the governmental entity a chance to settle just claims before suit is brought and, by permitting early investigation of  the facts, enable the entity to defend against unjust claims and correct the conditions or practices that gave rise to the claim.

The claims presentation requirement also has a draconian edge to them: If a claim is required and not timely submitted, the case is over before it begins.  This makes it extremely important that attorneys understand the deadlines for filing a claim, which depend on the type of cause of action involved. Continue reading

Tips for Picking the Right Jury

Choosing the right jury when conducting voir dire can be critical to winning your case, and yet many attorneys don’t give it nearly enough thought and effort.  Consider the following practical suggestions for picking the perfect jury: Continue reading