The State Bar seeks public comment regarding proposed expansion of eligibility to the Lawyer Assistance Program financial assistance.
Deadline: September 8, 2018
Senate Bill 36 amended Business and Professions Code section 6232, effective January 1, 2018, to provide that “[b]y rules subject to the approval of the board and consistent with the requirements of this article, applicants who are in law school or have applied for admission to the State Bar may enter the program.” On January 5, 2018, the LAP Oversight Committee recommended that the Board of Trustees amend State Bar Rule 3.244 to conform to the statute by specifying that “applicants who are in law school” as well as those applying for the Bar, may participate in LAP. That amendment was adopted by the Board at its January 2018 meeting.
Business and Professions Code section 6235(b) directs the State Bar to “establish a financial assistance program to ensure that no member is denied acceptance into the program solely due to the lack of ability to pay.” Rule 3.252 of the Rules of the State Bar provides that “[a] LAP participant who is an active or inactive member of the State Bar may be eligible for financial assistance in the form of a loan from the State Bar. Former members of the State Bar and candidates for admission to the practice of law are not eligible for financial assistance.” An amendment to this rule would be necessary to make such participants eligible for financial assistance.
The LAP staff administer the financial assistance program and the LAP Oversight Committee reviews the applications and determines the level of assistance to be provided. Pursuant to Rule 3.252(B), the maximum amount of financial assistance currently available to an applicant is equivalent to one year of participation in the LAP group and one year of urine testing fees. The financial assistance is in the form of a loan which comes due when the participant withdraws or graduates from the Program.
Rule 3.244 of the State Bar allows active, inactive, former members of the State Bar, and candidates for admission (defined as applicants who are in law school or who have applied for admission to the State Bar) to participate in the LAP.Under rule 3.245, all attorneys, former attorneys and candidates for admission are eligible to participate in the Orientation and Assessment, and to receive transition assistance services. Rules 3.247 and 3.248 provide that Support LAP and Monitored LAP are open to all attorneys, former attorneys, and candidates for admission.
Rule 3.252 explicitly provides that “[f]ormer members of the State Bar and candidates for admission to the practice of law are not eligible for financial assistance.”An amendment to this rule would be necessary to make such participants eligible for financial assistance.
On July 19, 2018, the Regulation and Discipline Committee of the Board of Trustees authorized a 45-day public comment period for a proposed amendment to Rules of Procedure of the State Bar.
This proposal, if adopted, would amend Title 3, Division 2, Chapter 5, Rule 3.252
It is unknown how many additional financial assistance applications would be submitted if the eligibility is expanded. The Oversight Committee will determine the amount distributed. As LAP staff have historically administered the financial assistance program, there will be no personnel impact.
Agenda Item July 2018 Regulation and Discipline Committee Item III.G.1., which includes a more detailed description of the proposal and the proposed rule changes.
Regulation and Discipline Committee
September 8, 2018
State Bar of California
Lawyer Assistance Program
845 South Figueroa, Los Angeles 90017
Phone: 213-765-1361 or 213-765-1122
Please reference the specific item in your comments.