Welcome to LAAC Online!
The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) is the statewide membership organization for the almost 100 nonprofits funded through IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) grants by the State Bar of California. Capitalizing on its structure as a membership organization, LAAC naturally takes on the role of advocating on behalf of this group of nonprofits. LAAC facilitates communication and coordination between programs, trains in core substantive areas, analyzes best practices, and assesses and improves the effectiveness of the delivery of legal aid in California, including working strategically to support rural and small programs and meet the needs of under-served populations.
LAAC has recently joined other legal nonprofits in a collaborative effort to support the publication of a few cases. In the most recent one, Kim v. De Maria, published here, the Appellate Division found that a court clerk could not partially grant and partially deny a proper fee waiver request.
Briefly, what happened was that a tenant has requested waiver of additional fees on his initial fee waiver request. The judge in the UD case found that the tenant had neither paid the $150 jury trial deposit, nor had he requested a waiver of those additional fees. The court clerk had failed to check the "additional fees" box, and the judge did not consider that a request to waive the jury fees. Some court clerks were not allowing requests for waiver of additional fees unless the initial fee request had already been granted. LAAC has heard from attorneys that many of you had to very closely calendar your UD cases because there was such a tiny window in which to ask for waiver of additional fees.
Thankfully, the court found that the initial fee waiver request was sufficient. This will help all attorneys who practice in the fast-paced world of UDs. In an earlier case, Nivo 1 LLC v. Atuenez, which was recently certified for publication, we joined with others in the request for publication of a case involving a renter's failure to secure renters insurance. The landlord argued that that breach in the rental agreement was grounds for eviction. The Appellate Division found that trial courts should consider whether the breach was substantial. LAAC has been happy to join with our member programs and other nonprofits in our publication advocacy work.
LAAC has also joined in many amicus efforts for petitions for review. In Hendelman v. Los Altos Apartments, California Supreme Court S213598, our joint amicus letter argued for a reversal of the Court of Appeals' decision in a habitability case. In brief, the Court had denied class certification for tenants in one complex because not all tenants knew of the defect. Although the California Supreme Court did not accept the case for review, it did order depublication of the opinion.
LAAC Advocacy on Mandatory E-filing
The Judicial Council voted on June 28 to adopt the recommendations of the Working Group on Mandatory E-filing. The final proposal follows many of LAAC's recommendations and the recommendations of our community. For more information, see our quick summary with links to the full proposal and attachments.
State Bar considering licensing "legal technicians," requiring practical skills and pro bono for new attorneys, and MCLE changes
LAAC’s three core program areas are:
Advocacy, which focuses on increasing funding to support legal services;
Training and Coordination within the California IOLTA Community, consisting of in-person conferences, online trainings, statewide meetings, and online resource sharing; and
Member Services, including discounts on trainings, software, and interpretation services.
Please see www.CALegalAdvocates.org for resources and trainings if you are a volunteer attorney, legal services advocate, law student or faculty advising low income and disadvantaged clients.