A public service of the Fresno County Bar Association, ARS provides the general public with a 1/2 hour consultation for legal advice with an attorney who has expertise in the area of the client's problem. A minimal Administrative Fee is charged to the client for the referral. A mix of fee-producing and consultation-only cases is the prospect for an attorney panel member. The ARS committee meets quarterly to provide supervision and guidance to the service.
This committee's members work diligently to enhance relations between attorneys and their clients where problems may have arisen. The committee considers complaints of clients concerning the conduct of Fresno County attorneys. The committee consults with clients and their attorneys in an advisory capacity to resolve or mediate misunderstandings. In proper instances, the committee will advise the staff of the State Bar of California of an apparent violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Assistance is provided to private groups and educators of the Fresno community in obtaining qualified lawyers to speak on various topics of law. These topics include consumer law, family law, criminal law, business law, and special topics relevant to youths and seniors. Inquiries from private groups and educators are initially made through the Secretary of the Fresno County Bar Association who, in turn, directs the inquiry to the appropriate subcommittee for response. The lawyers who volunteer their services to speak receive no compensation. The committee has advertised its services to the public through use of public service radio and television announcements.
This committee was established to provide arbitration assistance to attorneys and clients regarding conflicts over billings. The committee has established local rules of procedure for the handling of fee disputes and a complete set of forms to allow expeditious rendition of awards. Forms and rules may be obtained through the bar association office upon written request.
The purpose of the committee is not limited to the arbitration of disputes. The process serves as a communicative link between attorney and client in a period of distress. It is designed to foster better relations and to provide an informal forum for the resolution of disputes. The program is aided by the voluntary efforts of members of the association who sit as arbitrators. Every effort is made to secure arbitrators who have expertise and practical experience in the field in which the cases handled by the attorney arise as an aid to accurate fee evaluations.
Members of the Bar actively participate in the Mock Trial competition held by the Fresno County Schools. Each local high school fields a team of students who compete as prosecution and defense teams using a fictitious criminal case. Some of our attorneys work as coaches of the mock trial teams and many others serve as scorers and trial judges during the rounds of competition. Further, our Bar Association makes an annual contribution to the winning school's team to help cover their travel expenses so they can compete as Fresno County's Champion at the State Finals of the Mock Trial Competition.
The Judicial Evaluations Selection Advisory Committee (JESAC) reviews the qualifications of candidates seeking appointment to judicial positions on the Fresno County Superior, Municipal, and Justice Courts, the Fifth District Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The membership of the committee consists of twelve members of the Fresno County Bar Association who represent a broad cross section of the Association. The evaluation process involves an intensive investigation of the attributes of each judicial candidate and includes personal interviews with judges, attorneys and members of the community. Subsequent to its investigation the committee rates the qualifications of each candidate and makes its recommendation to the Board of Directors of the Fresno County Bar Association. Such ratings are strictly confidential.
Each year the Fresno County Bar Association sponsors a Law Day luncheon with a speaker of renown. The primary purpose of the luncheon is to bring together all of the various individuals who help make our legal system work including attorneys, judges, paralegals, secretaries and spouses. Law Day activities include airing panel discussion between judges and lawyers about Law Day over local radio and television stations, staffing information booths at the large shopping centers so that members of the public can obtain helpful information about the court system and available legal services and issuing press releases regarding the luncheon and Law Day activities.
The Fresno County Bar Association encourages the community to provide financial assistance to persons from Fresno County who desire to attend law school and enter the legal profession. The Scholarship Committee has been delegated the responsibility of making the community aware of the financial needs of such students and providing a means by which this financial assistance can be provided to them. When funds are received by the Bar Association, the committee administers the funds and the selection of recipients for these scholarships.
Pro Bono Program
The Pro Bono Program (PBP), a special project of Central California Legal Services (CCLS), recruits and coordinates volunteer attorneys who provide pro bono civil legal services to eligible low-income clients. Pro Bono attorneys provide free legal services in many areas of law including: simple wills, probate consultation, domestic violence restraining orders, housing, consumer/employment, HIV/AIDS law, non-profit organizations that serve low-income communities and individuals, and other civil legal matters.
Attorneys who volunteer through the PBP receive free MCLE training, malpractice coverage and VLSP staff support services for pro bono cases.
The FCBA Pro Bono Section, and the Attorney Referral and Information Service, encourage attorneys to support the FCBA Pro Bono Resolution by accepting PBP case referrals and co-counsel opportunities. The Pro Bono Resolution "Urges all attorneys to devote a reasonable amount of time to provide...legal services without expectation of compensation."
Please support the efforts of the FCBA and CCLS/PBP to provide access to justice through the delivery of pro bona legal services to low-income and elderly clients in Fresno County.