Fresno County Bar Association

Section & Committees

Agricultural Law Section

The Agricultural Law Section was formed in recognition of Fresno County's status as the premiere agricultural region of the United States. The Section's goal is to inform local attorneys (and other interested persons) about current issues affecting agribusiness. Therefore, speakers and topics sometimes have more of an industry focus than a pure legal focus. Topics covered in 20052006 included updates on water quality issues (such as the ag waiver discharge), the Farm Program, agricultural land values, farm labor, marketing orders, the Williamson Act and the San Joaquin River Litigation. Breakfast meetings at the Ramada Inn are generally held on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 7 a.m. All section meetings qualify for one hour of MCLE credit.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee

All attorneys who are members in good standing with the Fresno County Bar Association are welcome to participate in this committee's activities. The goals of the committee are to educate and promote to the Bar Association, Courts, and community at large alternative dispute resolution processes of all types, including mediation, arbitration, and others, The committee, which was formed in 1991, meets on a periodic basis. Currently, the committee is studying ways to implement the California State Bar Association, and working with the Fresno County Superior Court to study possible local ADR Rules of Court.

Appellate Law Section

The Appellate Section of the Fresno County Bar Association, newly formed this year, is open to all attorneys, justices, judges and staff The purpose of the Appellate Section is to provide education on appellate practice and procedure, to serve as a clearinghouse for pertinent developments, and to facilitate communication among and between the Court of Appeal and appellate practitioners and staff.
The Steering Committee plans to meet the second Monday of each month at noon. The Section will sponsor one program this year and, thereafter, at least two programs per year.

The Bar Bulletin Committee

Members of the Fresno County Bar Association have a special intercom system of their own consisting of a monthly publication entitled The Bur Bulletin. It circulates the latest word to and about local attorneys, bar organizations and the judiciary. It carries profiles of and interviews with leaders of the legal profession and the judiciary. Carried also are reports and reviews of recent significant court decisions. Humorous incidents that have tired the editor's imagination are sprinkled throughout, as are reprints of timely commentaries and editorials of interest to attorneys. Since its first issue in 1978, The Bur Bulletin has grown from a single sheet to a twelve to sixteen page periodical.

Bench Bar & Media

Bench Bar & Media is a local group of persons who strive to promote a better understanding among attorneys, courts and media. BBM does not require membership dues or maintain a membership roster. This group formed approximately 30 years ago, initially holding informal dinner meetings at which attorneys, judges and media representatives discussed matters of common interest "off the record." As the years passed, the number of attendees grew and speakers were invited to address the group and yield questions. Since the meetings are open to the public and the media is welcome to report on them, the meetings are no longer "off the record." Today, a Steering Committee, comprised of lawyers, judges and media representatives, schedule lunch meetings five times a year (September, October, January, March and May) on the third Wednesday of each month. The luncheons typically feature a guest speaker or speakers, candidate debates or a general discussion among the attendees of important issues of the day.

Business Law Section

The Business Law Section of the Fresno County Bar Association was formed in December, 1988. The purpose of this section is to promote a high level of competence and ethics among members practicing business law. Regular meetings are held to provide an opportunity for business law practitioners to meet and exchange ideas on topics of interest, including recent developments in the law, "how to" instructions for various business transactions, and ethical considerations in business transactions. Generally an experienced and knowledgeable business law practitioner serves as a guest speaker and discussion leader. All members of the Fresno County Bar Association are welcome to join sections. This section offers MCLE credits.

Construction Law Section

The Construction Law Section is open to all attorneys, judges and staff who represent clients in all facets of construction law, from traditional construction litigation (mechanic's liens, stop notice, bond claims, and bid protests), to transactional and development work, and construction defect litigation as well, for those practicing in both the private and public sector. The section meets evenings (generally 5:30 p.m.) in alternating months (September, December, February, April and June), with a hiatus during the summer months. During each meeting, a summary of recent case law is discussed and a speaker is presented. All meetings qualify for MCLE. Meeting locations vary.

Continuing Education Of The Bar Committee

The Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Committee sponsors and hosts all of the CEB programs held in Fresno and Yosemite which are provided by the University, of California Extension, Continuing Education of the Bar. The committee actively attempts to bring specialized courses to Fresno which are normally held only in the larger metropolitan areas.

Court Liaison and Rules Committee

This committee and its respective subcommittees meet as necessary with the representatives of the courts to discuss and attempt to resolve issues facing the courts and the attorneys in their respective relationships. This committee supports the courts in their relationships with the media and with other interested bodies whenever requested and whenever possible. When matters of concern are expressed by the bench or bar regarding a particular attorney or a particular judge, those matters are discussed and resolved. This committee also works in the areas of voluntary pro bono service, arbitration, and in obtaining pro tempore judges for the courts.

The committee meets on a regular basis and confers with the jurists of the respective courts to discuss compliance with local rules, and to conduct an ongoing study for modifications of existing local rules to meet changing needs and times.

The subcommittees of this Committee each have separate chairpersons and are (l) the Federal District Court Liaison and Rules Subcommittee, (2) the Fifth District Court of Appeal Liaison Committee, (3) the Superior Court Liaison and Rules Subcommittee.

Each chairperson is charged with responsibility of meeting with the presiding justice or judges of the respective courts on an as needed basis.

Members of the Fresno County Bar Association are invited to raise issues, make suggestions, and provide input to the committee chairpersons regarding matters to be brought to the attention of the courts.

Criminal Law Section

This section is open to all attorneys, judges and staff who are interested in the practice of criminal law. The section was reconstituted in July, 2000. Currently the section has about 20 paid members but is actively recruiting from both the defense and prosecution bars. The section will be focusing on education germane to the practice of criminal law and the socialization of attorneys practicing in this area. The section tries to meet at least two (2) times a year (time and place to be announced) for education and networking. MCLE credits will be offered.

Estate Planning, Trusts, And Probate Section

This section generally meets on the first Thursday of` each month. Judges, attorneys, probate support staff, federal and state tax representatives and other speakers discuss particulars of local practice, case law and legislative changes, agency procedures and related topics. Members have served in CEB programs and statewide bar association committees. The section works with the probate court and the probate examiners and members have been active in revising the local probate rules. This section is one of the oldest continuously functioning sections in the Association.

Family Law Section

Meeting the first Wednesday of each month for presentations of interest to practitioners in this widely diverse area of law, members are kept up to date in recent and proposed changes in family law and practice. The section and its various subcommittees work closely with the courts, with Family Court Services and with the Family Support Division in addressing concerns both locally and statewide. Selected members of the committee serve from time to time as judges pro tempore in the Family Law Department. This committee continues to be instrumental in the modification of the local Family Law Rules of Court and the Fresno County child support schedule.

Fresno County Young Lawyers Association

Fresno County Young Lawyers Association (FCYLA) is composed of those members of the Fresno County Bar Association who have been members of the State Bar of California for five years or less or are 36 years of age or younger. Those who meet these criteria are automatically members of FCYLA without payment of dues. FCYLA is formally affiliated with the Fresno County Bar Association, but has its own independently elected Board of Directors and generally operates as an autonomous entity.

FCYLA strives to build camaraderie and provide opportunities for new lawyers to interact in order to continue the tradition of a close-knit association between local practitioners. To achieve this, FCYLA begins by providing organizational support for the swearing in ceremonies for new lawyers. The effort continues with several social gatherings during the year, which allow lawyers to interact in informal settings.

At the same time, FCYLA continues to sponsor and organize events focused on helping new lawyers develop in their practice. FCYLA sponsors "Wine, War Stories and Words of Wisdom" (formerly Bridging the Gab) where judges and seasoned attorneys address vital and practical aspects of law practice not commonly covered in the law school curriculum. F CYLA also sponsors the George A. Hopper Memorial Scholarship Luncheon, which awards a scholarship to a local law student and brings a prominent member of the judiciary to address the local bar. In addition, FCY LA sponsors the Blaine E. Pettitt Memorial Mentor Award, recognizing the contributions of a local attorney toward the development of new lawyers.

Motivated by increasing concern about the public image of lawyers and the lack of understanding by none-lawyers of how the legal system operates, FCYLA provides lawyer volunteers to help coach high school students in mock trial competition sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the California Young Lawyers Association and also provides, on a continuing basis, Career Day speakers and classroom lawyer advisors to local elementary and high schools.

FCYLA has received numerous awards, including the 1983 ABA national first place award for the outstanding bar association of its size.

Law Library Committee

This committee's function is to make recommendations to the Board of Law Library Trustees concerning books to be added to or deleted from the Fresno County Law Library. The committee welcomes suggestions from members of the legal community and will be happy to consider them at its meetings which are held on a monthly basis.

Legislation Committee

The members of this committee actively participate in the proposing and evaluating of resolutions presented to the annual Conference of Delegates at the State Bar Convention. Throughout the year, members suggest changes and modifications of existing laws and evaluate proposals submitted by other bar associations. Prior to the annual State Bar Convention, members attend review sessions to evaluate and vote on proposed resolutions, In the fall of each year, the members of this committee represent the Fresno County Bar Association at the Conference of Delegates.

Pro Bono Services Section

The Pro Bona Services Section supports the FCBA's Pro Bono Resolution, which "Urges all attorneys to devote a reasonable amount of time to services without expectation of compensation." The Section encourages pro bono casework, organizes MCLE training luncheons, and publicly recognizes legal volunteers (Liberty Bell Award, Pro Bono Attorney of the Month). There is no fee for section membership.

Section members donate pro bono legal services through the Voluntary Legal Services Program (VLSP) of Central California Legal Services, Inc. (CCLS), in such areas as; simple wills, domestic violence restraining orders, housing, consumer/employment, HIV/AIDS law, Homeless Veterans Stand Down, eligible non-profit organizations, and other civil legal matters. VLSP provides a variety of support services to its volunteer attorneys, including: free MCLE training, malpractice insurance, and staff support for pro bono cases.

Please join the efforts of the FCBA and CCLS/VLSP to provide access to justice through the delivery of pm bono legal services to low-income and elderly clients in Fresno County.

Real Property Section

Members of the Fresno County Bar whose practice includes real property and real property security issues are encouraged to attend occasionally. Real Property Section meetings. Lunch meetings at the Ramada Inn generally are held` on the third Thursday of each month, with an occasional "odd" date due to scheduling conflicts. The Real Property Section also has evening meetings on major topics occasionally. All Real Property Section meetings qualify for MCLE credit. The Section programs are of general interest to the real property practitioner, reaching such diverse topics as regulation of hazardous materials, anti-deficiency questions and land use planning. Speakers are frequently members of related professions with whom real property practitioners deal on a regular basis, such as accountants, planners, title insurers, escrow holders and lenders. The Real Property Section also acts as the State Bar Real Property Roundtable, which is a subsection of the State Bar Real Property Section. As such, section members have access to pending legislation, law revision and other issues before the State Bar Real Property Section.

State Bar Assistance Available To Local Bar Associations

The State Bar offers a wide variety of services to local bar associations as well as to individual attorneys. Assistance in developing pro bono programs, increasing local bar association membership and group medical insurance are but a few of the services available. The Conference of Delegates is the voice of the voluntary bar associations and sponsors an annual conference where attorneys' opinions on a wide variety of matters relevant to attorneys are expressed. The conference has been given increasing responsibility for sponsoring and advocating legislation which is enacted by our State Legislature.

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