Help CALDA Defeat Bill AB 888

 

CALDA asks for your support in opposing AB 888, which is authored by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento).

WHAT AB 888 WILL DO

The State Bar is already able to seek injunctions to enforce the unauthorized practice of law (UPL).  

However, AB 888 allows the State Bar to collect fines against defendants and to take their attorneys’ fees.  The bill entices the State Bar into pursuing these UPL claims with two incentivizing mechanisms.  These are classic “perverse incentives’ that will turn into funding sources. 

Perverse Incentive #1: It provides for a one-way award of attorneys’ fees to the State Bar if it prevails in such a lawsuit (however, even in a completely frivolous, unmeritorious proceeding, a prevailing defendant would not be awarded his or her fees.  This means that even if the LDA wins the lawsuit, the LDA would still likely pay tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs with no recourse.  Why should the prevailing defendant not be able to recover his or her defense costs?

Perverse Incentive #2: It provides that the State Bar can pursue claims under the Unfair Business Practices law (B&P 17200).  This can be thousands and thousands of dollars.  Why do the fines go to the State Bar and not to the general fund or to some dedicated consumer protection fund? 

Both of these items will create a perverse incentive to pursue claims against LDAs.  Essentially, the State Bar will have a financial incentive to pursue these claims whether they are legitimate or not.  That puts LDAs at risk, and it limits the options of self-represented individuals.

WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR

CALDA’s president appeared at the Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing last month to voice our concerns at the committee hearing.  Since then, CALDA has reached out to its members and other friends for help in opposing this bill, and our supporters have answered.  Dan Walters from the Sacramento Bee published a story on the misguided nature of the bill. 

None other than Ed Sherman (the founder of Nolo Press himself) sent a letter, which is included below in the materials posted below.  Ed’s letter is spectacular – he provides a smart, short, and concise argument against the bill. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

 1.      Letters From LDAs:   Write the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them you oppose this bill.  They need to hear from legitimate providers of self-help services that this bill will encourage the State Bar to persecute LDAs, which will have a chilling effect on their ability to provide services to self-represented persons.

 2.      Letters from Clients:   Use the form letter (below) to solicit support from your clients.  Ask them to describe how you provided them with access to the justice that they would not have obtained without you.

 Very important: Please send your letters to all the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Their contact information is included in the attachments below.

 

MATERIALS: