Important! California Adopts New Rule for Initial Disclosures in Discovery

This month’s Litigation Tip comes directly from one of our favorite boutique litigation firms in San Francisco: Lewis + Llewellyn.

Founding Partners Marc Lewis and Paul Llewellyn spoke at our litigation related seminars many years ago, and we frequently have attorneys from the firm speak at our annual Superior Court and Federal Court Boot Camps as well as our Depo training programs, including Evangeline Burbidge, Ryan Erickson and Becca Furman.

California Adopts New Rule for Initial Disclosures in Discovery

On September 30, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 235 (SB235) into law, which amends California Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.090.  It institutes a new procedure for initial disclosures of information and documents.  Beginning on January 1, 2024, parties will be required to make initial witness and document disclosures within 60 days of another party’s request.  Failure to comply or act in good faith with the new law will result in a court-imposed sanction of $1,000.

The initial disclosures shall include:

“The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of all persons likely to have discoverable information … that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses, or that is relevant to the subject matter of the action or the order on any motion made in that action.”

“A copy, or a description by category and location, of all documents” and

Any insurance policies that may be used “to satisfy, in whole or in part, a judgment entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment.”

The new law also clarifies that “a party is not excused from its initial disclosures because it has not fully investigated the case, because it challenges the sufficiency of another party’s disclosures, or because another party has not made it’s disclosures.”  The rule will remain in effect until January 1, 2027.

These changes have the potential to streamline fact investigations and reduce the amount of written discovery exchanged between parties.  The new timeline will also require counsel to evaluate their position and case strategy much earlier to ensure all relevant information is captured in the initial disclosure.  Counsel would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with the new rule, which may catch opposing counsel off guard.


Thank you to everyone at Lewis + Llewellyn for allowing us to re-publish your Litigation Tip of the Month and most especially for speaking at our litigation seminars year after year!


CA Certificate Legal Specialist Exam Prep Tips for Appellate Law

We just held our Four-Part Exam Prep course for the Certified Legal Specialist Exam in Appellate Law. We have several other recorded packages for past exam prep programs in different subject areas available for purchase here (immigration, tax, Criminal and Workers Comp) as well.

Below is a list for how to prepare and study for the exam in Appellate Law, discussed at our Four Part Exam Prep course for the Certified Legal Specialist Exam in Appellate Law by Judith Posner of Benedon & Serlin LLP and Athena Roussos, C. Athena Roussos Appellate Law (and former grader of the exams).

You can also find our Free Exam Prep download here, which has about four hours of advice on how to prepare and take the exam, from prior programs in multiple subject areas.


With the exception of the discussions directly related to appellate law, the tips are universally applicable to all exam subject areas.  Below are some great tips!

The PURPOSE of the exam is to test your proficiency in the area of Appellate Law

  • Areas that should be well known to practitioners who specialize in Appellate Law
  • Not designed to test obscure areas

Multi-Choice Questions

  • Multi-choice questions test applicants’ knowledge of specific areas in a broad range of subjects
  • Typically involve a clear and definite answer; usually do not involve “pick the best choice”
  • Questions in past have had 4 possible choices
  • Difficulty level of the questions is varied
  • Usually, the facts in the question are pertinent (not thrown in to distract)
  • A “yes” or “no” question will usually have two “yes” and two “no” choices with different reasons given
    e., “Yes, because
    ” or “No, because
  • Expect at least some procedural questions based on the Cal. Rules of Court, i.e., some questions have a distinct answer based on the rules of court, such as number of days given for filing a certain document.

Essay Questions

  • Essay questions are short and designed to be answered within 30 minutes – make sure to save enough time for both essays in each hour writing block
  • Essay questions include more “should” type questions (i.e., what should the attorney do in this situation?), and there may be a number of possibilities to consider rather than one correct answer
  • Focus is on issue spotting and analytical skills / application of law to facts
  • Sometimes will involve more than one subject area, such as ethics/professional responsibility and briefing
  • Answer is not always clear or definite – there may be arguable sides or a number of options to discuss
  • Facts are usually pertinent and not designed to trick you; explain the relevance (or non-relevance) of the facts in your answer
  • Helpful to outline essay questions in advance of writing to pick up on facts in question and cover areas raised by question; consider ethics and client counseling issues in addition to procedural aspects of question. Go back to your outline when you are done to make sure you wrote about everything in your outline
  • If applicable in a question, make sure to consider preliminary issues, such as the standard of review and presumptions on an appeal

Subject areas

  • See the Appellate Law 2023 Exam Subject Areas (in Pincus Handbook and available online at the bar’s website here)
  • Exam is almost entirely based on California state appellate court practice but does include USSC (petitions for certiorari)

Checklist of considerations

  1. Who is my client and what are my ethical obligations?
  2. What kind of order/judgment is at issue, and is it appealable?
  3. Is there a need for a stay or immediate relief? If so, how is it obtained?
  4. Is the record complete, and, if not, how do I ensure it becomes complete?
  5. What standard(s) of review apply, and how do they impact the likelihood of success on appeal?
  6. Were the issues properly preserved in the trial court to obtain appellate review?
  7. What are the technical briefing rules and requirements?
  8. Will there be oral argument? If so, are there new authorities to bring to the court’s attention? Is there a need for supplemental briefing?
  9. Upon review of the court’s opinion, are there errors needing correction? Is a petition for rehearing or review warranted? Certiorari?
  • Is publication ordered? Should it have been?
  • Have appellate costs been ordered? What about appellate fees? Where do you seek appellate costs and fees, if ordered, and when? Is the remittitur correct?

How to Prepare / Study Plans

  • Set aside enough time to study
  • Consider forming study groups with anyone else you might know who will be taking the exam
  • Do the sample essay questions and time yourself on them
  • Consider your strengths and weaknesses and what areas you need to focus on
    • What areas of appellate law are you more familiar or less familiar with?
    • How long has it been since you took an exam? If exam skills are rusty, you may want to take more time to prepare
  • Make sure you are familiar with the Cal. Rules of Court applicable to appeals
  • Brush up on the ethics rules that apply to appeals
  • Treatises on California appellate law such as Rutter Guide: Civil Appeals and Writs, CEB or Matthew Bender Treatises are great study aids

Practical Considerations

  • Get plenty of rest before the exam: it is a long day!
  • Have a comfortable workspace that is quiet and will be uninterrupted.
  • Remember to breathe!
  • If you fall behind in timing, do not despair; do your best to keep going.
  • Think of yourself as an appellate practitioner as you’re taking the exam, i.e., how would you advise a client who came to you with these questions.

What to Expect


Exam will take place on October 24, 2023 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

See the Bar’s Scheduling Bulletin here.

  • You should have already registered for the exam. The timely filing deadline was Aug. 15, 2023. The final late filing deadline is Sept. 15, 2023.
  • Results will be released March 15, 2024.

Exam is REMOTE for most; however, in-person is available for some.


You must use a LAPTOP COMPUTER.



  • Exam will be remotely proctored, using human proctors and artificial intelligence.
  • Any suspicious activity will be flagged.

Timing and Format

  • 8:00 a.m. to Noon: Eight 30-minute essays
  • Essay questions are given in 1-hour sessions with 2 essays per session
  • 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: 75 multi-choice questions
  • 2 sessions of roughly 75 minutes per session


California Supreme Court Adopts Attorney Misconduct Reporting Mandate – starts August 1st, 2023

After about a year of deliberation among the bar and the court, the CA Supreme Court has adopted the so-called lawyer “snitch” rule, requiring attorneys to report misconduct by their peers, beginning August 1, 2023.

You can read more about it at the LA Times or at The Recorder.

The new rule obligates attorneys to notify the CA State Bar if they have, according to the rule, “credible evidence that another lawyer has committed a criminal act or has engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit” or other wrongdoing that “raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness.”  Misconduct is defined in the rule here.

As mentioned in the LA Times, attorneys who do not comply face penalties of up to a three-year suspension of their law licenses.

The Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act is Now the Law in Florida

In July 2020, the Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act became law, marking a new era for Florida courts — and the culmination of four years of relentless diplomacy by the Business Law Section.  And if you click on that link, you’ll see it is a pretty complicated statute!

The Florida Bar describes the act as follows:

“Drafted in 2015 by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, UCRERA creates a process for state courts to appoint a receiver in disputes that arise over commercial real estate, typically a default.

Supporters say that once appointed by the court, a neutral receiver can manage an asset and prevent it from falling into disrepair.”

You can read more from the bar about the act and the instrumental way in which Florida’s Business Law Section helped get the act passed here.

Even though the act is 1.5 years old, many attorneys and commercial real estate owners are still unfamiliar with the law and process.

So we’re holding a program all about it on January 31, 2023 that will be taught by one of the two task force members involved in getting the act passed: Kenneth Murena with Damian Vallori (receiver’s counsel and a federal court-appointed receiver).

Also joining the faculty is esteemed judge Lisa Walsh.

You can register for the program, or pre-purchase the recorded package, here.

Judge Walsh will also be joining our 12th Annual Circuit Court Boot Camp on June 2nd.  Please email us at if you would like a coupon for that program. We will have it up on our website by the end of the year.


Congratulations to Subarz!

Virtual Trials-The Future is Now-Are You Ready?

One of our most popular speakers – Jeff Bast of Bast Amron – recently published an article called: “Virtual Trials-The Future is Now-Are You Ready?” for the American Bankruptcy Association’s Business Section Summer Newsletter.

Jeff recently spoke at our program: Business Bankruptcy 101: Chapter 11 Nuts and Bolts. Jeff was the program favorite!

We wanted to share this article with you, given the timeliness of topic – we know that you will find it helpful.

Click here to get to Jeff’s article: “Virtual Trials-The Future is Now-Are You Ready?” .




Inoculating Against the Coming Spread of Employee Lawsuits Related to COVID-19

One of our fabulous speakers, Brendan Begley, from Weintraub | Tobin, wrote this post (below) for their blog and I wanted to share it with you. We hold programs for both plaintiff’s and defense attorneys, and usually have both speaking at our litigation related programs. The below post is from the defense perspective, and will be valuable for all types of attorneys who may need to deal with this subject or these types of suits.

Brendan is teaching at/taught at our August 2020 Two-Part Webinar on “Covid-19 Impending Employment Litigation: ​Liability, Privacy and Arbitration – the new dos and don’ts for both sides of the aisle” program.  As the title suggests, we will have both plaintiff and defense attorneys speaking to provide a good variety of perspectives and anyone who needs to know more about this, will want to attend. It is an online program, on August 25 and 27.

Read on below, for a thorough analysis of the issues, originally appearing on Weintraub’s Labor and Employment Law Blog.

Inoculating Against the Coming Spread of Employee Lawsuits Related to COVID-19
May 28 2020
by Brendan J. Begley

The Labor & Employment Law Blog

As workplaces begin reopening in the coming weeks, attorneys are predicting a rash of lawsuits by employees against their employers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It seems clear that workers-compensation preemption may immunize employers from most civil actions alleging that employees became infected with the virus on the job.  However, other types of employee lawsuits may reach fever pitch.
There does not appear to be any vaccination to alleviate many of the anticipated claims.  Still, just as good hygiene practices may help flatten the curve of the actual coronavirus, good employment practices can help reduce the incidence of such lawsuits in your workplace.  Here are four types of employment claims that are likely to spread like a contagion as employees are expected to (or actually do) return to their jobs, along with some inoculations that employers should consider:

Disability Claims

According to at least one media outlet, the head of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s New York office reported this week that charges accusing employers of failing to accommodate workers’ disabilities are outpacing any other allegation tied to COVID-19 in the Empire State.  Employers should anticipate similar developments here in the Golden State.
Indeed, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and its federal counterpart, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), both prohibit disability discrimination and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees.  An ounce of prevention – by engaging in the interactive process (from a safe distance) with infected or otherwise disabled employees to identify reasonable accommodations – often is more economical than the pound of cure that would come from prevailing in a failure-to-accommodate lawsuit.

In this regard, employers should remember that each request for an accommodation must be analyzed independently, and that a leave of absence may constitute a reasonable accommodation.  Thus, if employees request a leave of absence, either to get over their own COVID-19 infection or to reduce the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus due to some preexisting disability that puts them at greater risk, serious thought must be given to fashioning a workable accommodation.

Some employers may find respite in the notion that a coronavirus infection might not constitute an actual disability under the ADA or the FEHA, as the illness typically impairs its victims moderately or for only a short duration of time.  But this brand of comfort is often an ineffective placebo and not a recommended treatment to prevent the spread of disability lawsuits.  That is because the effects of a COVID-19 infection may be more long-lasting or create a more severe impairment for some individuals.  Thus, it would be a mistake for an employer to assume that such an infection can never amount to a protected disability.
At the same time, both the FEHA and the ADA prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of a perceived disability.  Thus, it is foreseeable that some employers might decide to treat certain workers differently than others because they believe certain workers have some other actual or perceived medical condition (e.g., a persistent cough, or diabetes, or an immunodeficiency, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Employers may worry that letting such vulnerable employees return to the job or interact with coworkers might make them more susceptible to getting or spreading COVID-19.  While treating such employees differently in this manner may seem (or even might actually be) an act of caring and concern that would rival Florence Nightingale, such actions can lead to costly challenges in court (especially if they are applied in a clumsy fashion).
Disability harassment is another type of claim that employers may anticipate.  One way this type of claim may arise is when coworkers, managers or supervisors develop a notion that a particular employee was (or is) infected with coronavirus and spread (or is spreading) the sickness to the workplace.  If such coworkers, managers or supervisors are allowed to harass, insult or ostracize an employee on that basis, the employer may find itself in need of some urgent care from lawyers.

Tameny Claims

The so-called Tameny claim is named after the California Supreme Court’s decision 40 years ago in Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 167.  Under the high court’s ruling in that case, a worker may pursue a lawsuit when he or she alleges that the employer terminated his or her employment in violation of some public policy.

It is difficult to tally how many Tameny claims are spreading in California, as the administrative agencies that handle claims of disability discrimination (or other types of discrimination, harassment or retaliation) typically are not responsible for investigating a Tameny claim.  So we may not know for many months how many Tameny claims have been filed in court; nonetheless, there is good reason to think the number will be high.
Keep in mind that California has a public policy that requires employers to “furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees therein.”  (Cal. Labor Code, § 6400.)  Also bear in mind that California has a public policy that prohibits employers from “preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency,” or to a manager or supervisor, “who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance.”  (Cal. Labor Code, § 1102.5.)

With those public policies in mind, there are two general ways to become exposed to a Tameny affliction.  One arises when an employee is fired for refusing to execute some task on the job that actually would be unlawful.  The second arises when the employee is fired for complaining about what he or she reasonably perceives to be unlawful activity in the workplace (even if the activity in question turns out to be legal).
Regarding the first variety, it is easy to foresee the following scenario developing:  An employer directs an employee to return to work and the employee refuses and is fired.  If the employer instructed the employee to return before the government lifted restrictions for that specific workplace, terminating the employee for refusing to return may violate a public policy.  Likewise, if the employer waits until the restrictions lift but then fails to enforce regulations requiring social distancing or sanitary practices or the donning of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), firing an employee for refusing to work under such conditions may also be in violation of public policy.

Turning to the second type of Tameny ailments, it is equally easy to anticipate these scenarios occurring:  An employer directs an employee to return to work either before the restrictions are lifted or after the restrictions are lifted but without implementing or enforcing policies for social distancing, sanitation, or PPE.  The employee complies, returns to the job, and performs his or her work, but not quietly or without protest.  Instead, the employee complains about the workplace conditions, either to a governmental agency or a supervisor, and is subsequently fired.  Terminating an employee for complaining about such workplace conditions may be in violation of public policy.

One aspect of many Tameny claims that make them look less severe than other types of claims is that they often do not result in the employer having to pay the employee’s attorney fees.  However, given the other undesirable symptoms and bad side-effects that such lawsuits can trigger (e.g., lost productivity due to litigation, or the risk of emotional-distress and even punitive damages), that is a bit like telling a sick patient suffering from simultaneous chills and sweats that a fever of 103.8 degrees is not as bad as one that is 104 degrees.

Leave Claims

There are a number of federal and state laws that require various employers to provide a certain amount of protected leave to covered employees; for example, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).
The FFCRA was passed just this year to provide workers with protected leave if they have been impacted in various ways by the coronavirus and related shelter-in-place orders.  It has already resulted in what some might call an epidemic of lawsuits where employees have claimed that their employer interfered with their protected leave, denied them benefits, or fired them in retaliation for requesting leave.

Meanwhile, the FMLA and the CFRA are not geared specifically for coronavirus-related leaves, like the FFCRA is, but those laws may still protect such leaves of absence.  Making things more complicated, there may be overlap between these leave entitlements and some employers may be subject to all of these laws, while others are subject to some or none of them.

It is very probable that employers will be faced with many more leave requests, either to care for someone who has been infected with COVID-19 or to stay at home with a child whose school or daycare facility remains closed while some restrictions are lifted.  Of course, employees also may request leave to deal with other health conditions that deteriorated while they were unable to get routine medical treatment while sheltered in place.  Each leave request should be given serious consideration.

Discrimination Claims

Whereas some employers may be struggling with too many employees in need of leave, others may be grappling with having to lay off employees due to downturns in business as a result of the shelter-in-place restrictions.  In either scenario, care must be given to how such decisions are made and serious thought must be devoted to the potential results.
Such decisions may trigger claims under the FEHA or its federal counterparts, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  Those laws bar making employment decisions on the basis of certain protected categories; for instance, age, race, national-origin, gender or religion.

When deciding which employees are going to be given leaves of absence, or laid off, or assigned to certain duties, consistent procedures and rationales must be followed.  Even then, under what is called the disparate-impact type of claim, a neutral policy or practice can lead to discrimination liability if it has a statistically disproportionate impact on a certain class of workers.

Inoculate Against Such Claims

There is no vaccine that will prevent or get rid of all such claims, but the harmful effects of such lawsuits can be ameliorated by following certain precautions.

First, be sensitive to actual or perceived disabilities, do not make medical assumptions, work hard to identify and implement reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, and be vigilant in guarding against harassment of employees on the basis of some perceived or actual medical condition.

Second, take every request for a disability accommodation or leave of absence seriously and analyze each one independently on its own merits.

Third, do not violate or direct your employees to violate governmental shelter-in-place, social-distancing, sanitary or PPE restrictions or regulations.

Fourth, whenever making a termination decision, be sure it is for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the employee’s refusal to violate some public policy or the employee’s complaints about reasonably perceived violations of some public policy.

Fifth, make certain that personnel decisions have nothing to with protected classifications (e.g., age, race, gender, religion) and carefully analyze how decisions may impact protected classes of employees.
Just as there presently is no medicine that is sure to eradicate the current pandemic, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen that will completely wipeout such employment claims.  Even these steps cannot completely immunize employers against all these types of lawsuits, yet failing to adopt such protective measures probably will increase the risk of exposure to these afflictions.
Finally, it seems obvious that getting prompt medical attention may stem the more serious effects of a disease; by the same token, obtaining early legal advice may decrease the incidence or cost of these exorbitant types of lawsuits.

USSC declines to take up a challenge to mandatory bar dues constitutionality

The Recorder reported this morning that the USSC declined to take up a challenge to the constitutionality of mandatory bar dues:

“A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to reconsider two decades-old decisions upholding the constitutionality of mandatory membership in state bar associations.

In the case Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin, Adam Jarchow and Michael Dean argued that compelled membership and fees in their state bar violated their First Amendment speech and association rights.

The two lawyers asked the justices to overrule Lathrop v. Donohue (1961) and Keller v. State Bar of California (1990), contending that the justices’ modern free speech decisions and the court’s recent ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, striking down union “fair share” fees, had “knocked the legs out from under” the Lathrop and Keller decisions.:

Read more at the Recorder’s link here.

The ABA’s 10 favorite podcast episodes of 2019


We hope you are all having a great holiday season!

In case you haven’t checked it out yet, the ABA has put together a list of their favorite podcasts of 2019. We’re so happy to share that Faith Pincus’ podcast with Ashley Alfirevic of ABA Publishing, “Public speaking skills every lawyer should master,” has made the ABA’s top 10 episodes list!

In this episode of the Modern Law Library, Ashley Alfirevic speaks to Faith Pincus about how to ditch the notecards, engage the audience and ask the right type of rhetorical questions. You can access the podcast HERE.

You can also find more tips and suggestions on public speaking for attorneys HERE.