Statutes and Rules Amended to Emphasize Electronic Filing and Service

With amendments to the Rules of Court and the Code of Civil Procedure (effective January 1, 2011), the California legislature and the Judicial Council have indicated an emphasis on electronic filing and service. The rules were reorganized to improve the presentation, and CCP §1013 was amended to specifically refer to electronic service. If you haven’t already, maybe now is the time to familiarize yourself with some of the highlights of these statutes and rules. Continue reading

Special Needs Trusts: Providing for People with Disabilities

Properly planning for a person who has a disability can be a daunting task fraught with potential liability. The issues that arise concern the lifetime financial and personal care for the person. Typically, public benefits are being used to meet the person’s current care needs. To maintain such ongoing care, planning for persons with disabilities is centered around a properly designed and administered trust, called a special needs trust (SNT). The SNT provides funds to supplement public benefits without interfering with those benefits. Continue reading

To File or Not to File? Ten Things to Consider Before Advising Your Client to File for Bankruptcy Protection

Many attorneys, from business transactional specialists to family lawyers, are asked by their individual clients, “Should I file for bankruptcy?” This is not an easy question to answer, and is best responded to after analyzing many facts and issues. In fact, to answer it well, you’ll need to ask some questions of your own to determine the appropriateness of bankruptcy and the type of bankruptcy case to file. Continue reading

Profile in Practice: Cynthia E. Fruchtman

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 Cynthia Fruchtman:

CEB: What are your practice areas and how/why did you choose or start in your practice area?

Cynthia: I started my practice as a civil litigator.  Although I was successful in employment defense, my employer clients kept getting sued, so I expanded into labor and employment compliance. I also have an assisted reproduction practice in which I represent egg donors, sperm donors, embryo donors, agencies, medical practitioners, and infertile people who want to have families, which is an outgrowth of my first career as a cytogeneticist and my ongoing service on various bioethics committees. Continue reading

Exclude Evidence Early: Using an In Limine Motion

Have you heard about in limine motions, but are not sure what they are and when to use them? Put simply, an in limine motion is a request made before trial begins to admit or exclude evidence before the evidence is offered, and thus seen by the jury. Most often they are used to keep out evidence that might be prejudicial if offered or discussed in front of the jury—once the evidence gets before the jury you won’t be able to unring that bell. Continue reading

The Mighty Cease and Desist Letter

A great way to stop copyright infringement in its tracks is to send a cease and desist letter to the infringing party. If done right, and under appropriate circumstances, a cease and desist letter can avoid any further legal action.  Continue reading

Surety Bonds in Construction: Legally Required and Little Understood

Updated 10/10/17: Contractors must buy a $15,000 bond under Bus & P C §7071.6 before being issued a license to work in CA.

The following is a guest post by Kristen Bradley from, a company that issues bonds to professionals and aims to help professionals understand the legal aspects of surety bonds and the bonding process.

Although surety bonds are used widely in California’s construction industry, contractors and those who represent them often have a limited awareness of how exactly they work. Government agencies have set surety bond laws for the construction industry to protect consumers. Some construction bond types also ensure payment for subcontractors or other employees who could be left waiting for payment after working on a project. Continue reading

Jury Trials Move to the Fast Lane

Beginning on January 1, 2011, California jury trials may pick up speed. The Expedited Jury Trials Act (Cal Rules of Ct 3.1545-3.1552) provides an option for parties to have their cases be heard on a certain date, before a judge and an eight-person jury. Under the Act, voir dire will be much quicker, with each party having only three peremptory challenges. Each side will then have only three hours to put on its case—including opening and closing arguments. Verdicts, which need only be reached by six members of the jury, are binding unless the litigants discover evidence of fraud or misconduct.

Continue reading

10 Cross-Examination Tips from a Master

Cross-examination of a witness is a critical part of trial. An effective cross-examination can strengthen your case by bringing out favorable information, undermining and/or attacking the witness, and getting fresh discovery (particularly in criminal cases).

Master trial attorney James Brosnahan offers these ten tips for acing cross-examination:

  1. Use short, simple, leading questions with four to six words. “You wrote the letter, didn’t you?” Continue reading

ABA Is Examining Online Client Marketing

The American Bar Association (ABA)’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 is examining legal ethics issues that arise from lawyers’ use of  Internet-based client development tools, including social and professional networking websites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Continue reading