March 2018 Print


My service to the East Bay Chapter of ALA was intentional, and yet unexpected. In 2014, when I moved to the East Bay from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I already knew the value of serving.  It has been my experience that serving a non-profit in one’s area of vocation or avocation brings invaluable intrinsic rewards.  I was not disappointed with EBALA.  The professional and personal relationships built serve to make me a richer person, and has increased my value as a legal administrator.  Would I encourage you to volunteer?  Absolutely.  But only if you are ready to be open to the possibility of change.

What can I say?  It’s been a wild ride these past two years as your Chapter president.  The ability to serve this dynamic group of professionals has been, and will continue to be, an honor. 

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By: Joy Buchanan 

EBALA’s annual Morning in the East Bay Educational Conference was held on January 26, 2018 at the Lafayette Park Hotel. Members, guests and Business Partners totaled 43 in attendance. Attorneys Chad Greeson and Yen Chau from the Employment Practice Group at Archer Norris started the morning with a Labor Law Update, their tag-team approach kept the audience engaged while providing pertinent information about existing and new laws effective January 1st. In California there are always at least a few new employment laws every year! The timing of Morning in the East Bay at the beginning of the year is ideal for early education and getting in front of new laws.

After the morning session, the Business Partner Exhibition provided an opportunity for members and guests to meet and catch up with Business Partners and learn more about their services and industries. Our Business Partners provide EBALA with wonderful support throughout the year and are a great resource for key services, including but not limited to recruiting and staffing, insurance needs, efiling/eDiscovery, legal research, offsite storage and other legal and office related services.

President of WorkWise Productions/, Kristine Sexter’s presentation, Top 25 Approaches for Maximizing the Value of Your Staff! was extremely informative. Heads were nodding as Kristine set the stage by outlining information and bullet point characteristics spanning the generations from Traditionalists (born 1925 – 1945) to Gen C (born 2000 – present). She provided measurably effective strategies for engaging, challenging and motivating the multi-generational workforce that comprise many of our firms. Kristine’s enthusiastic and comedic personality kept the audience engaged and entertained while she educated us. The evaluations were unanimous that Kristine’s presentation provided useful information and was right on point. Kristine is known throughout ALA as a repeat presenter at Annual and Regional Conferences and we were honored to have her present to EBALA.

Lucky EBALA members Michael Hughes won a $1,500 scholarship to ALA Annual Conference and Expo in National Harbor, Maryland, May 3rd – 6th, 2018 and Annie Lathram won a $1,000 “winner’s choice” scholarship to attend any of ALA’s educational conferences this year. Congratulations Michael and Annie!

Our generous Business Partners and speaker, Kristine Sexter donated the following raffle prizes. The fortunate winners are in parenthesis.

  •          Adams & Martin Group: Amazon Gift Card (Joy Buchanan)
  •          Ahern Insurance: Amazon Gift Card (Jennifer Murov)
  •          EPIC: Macy’s Gift Cards (Jim Therien & Susan Buechel)
  •          First Legal: Google Mini (Rachel Estes & Mary Balistreri)
  •          MacroPro: Handbag & Gift Card (Ceanne Herndon)
  •          Ricoh: Visa Gift Card (Amie Morelli)
  •          Robert Half: Wine Basket (Brenda Barry)
  •          Sam Clar Furniture: Movie & Dinner Certificates for 2 (Kara Koeberle)
  •          Special Counsel: Polaroid Camera (Jennifer Mansfield)
  •          Kristine Sexter: Amazon Gift Card (Andrea Everage)

The day was capped off with a networking luncheon open to all EBALA members. 14 members attended and discussed subjects relevant to issues at their respective firms. Members appreciated the opportunity to network, ask questions and share ideas with their EBALA colleagues over lunch.

Mark your calendars now and watch for the date to be announced for Morning in the East Bay at the end of January 2019. It is a great way to spend a Friday morning and the educational content and member and business partner interaction is the best deal in the East Bay!

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Highlights from the 2018 Employment Law Update
Presented by:
chad greeson, partner, archer norris
yen chau, special counsel, archer norris

It was an honor to present at EBALA’s 2018 Labor Law Update. We were also grateful for the audience’s participation and that Chad did not have any public wardrobe malfunctions, although I’m sure we could have turned that into a sexual harassment teaching moment. For those who were not able to attend, here are five highlights from the presentation.

  1. Have you checked the salaries of your exempt workers who are near the salary threshold? As of Jan. 1, 2018, exempt employees must be paid a minimum annual salary of $43,680 for employers with up to 25 employees, or $45,760 for larger employers. In 2019, those salaries will be $45,760 and $49,920, respectively. Make sure your exempt employees’ salaries stay in compliance with changing requirements to avoid claims for unpaid overtime and meal and rest break violations.

  2. Don’t forget mid-year minimum wage increases that go into effect July 1, 2018 for San Francisco ($15/hr) and Emeryville ($15/hr for companies with 55 or fewer employees, $15.60/hr for larger employers), and October 1, 2018 for Berkeley ($15/hr).

  3. Parental leave has been expanded- California employers with 20 to 49 employees within 75 miles must provide up to 12-weeks of job-protected unpaid parental leave to qualifying employees (previously, this applied only to employers with 50 or more employees).

  4. Transgender and transitioning employees are protected under DFEH regulations. The protections include: Equal access to restrooms; workers must be referred to using their preferred name; no condition of employment upon documentation of sex/gender; and dress standards may not be inconsistent with the worker’s gender identity and expression. Also, supervisor’s sexual harassment training should now include transgender identity training. A practice tip is to revise your handbook to remove gender specific language (i.e. he/she, his/her).

  5. Employers may not seek an employee’s salary history, and must be prepared to provide the position’s salary range to an applicant. Even if the applicant, without prompting, voluntarily discloses prior salary information, salary history may not be the only basis for setting the worker’s compensation level. Check your job applications! And while you’re at it, make sure you are in compliance with Ban the Box (no pre-offer inquiry into criminal history).

Thanks again, and please feel free to reach out if you wish to discuss any issue in detail.
- Yen Chau

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March 15, 2018
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

The Park Bistro & Bar at Lafayette Park Hotel
3287 Mt. Diablo Boulevard
Lafayette, CA

2018 EBALA Cross-Over Meeting



March 19, 2018
5:45 PM to 7:00 PM

Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP
2033 N. Main Street, Suite 720
Walnut Creek,, CA 94596

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


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In 2017, the Diversity Committee of the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) announced its newest endeavor, a Diversity Award.  Law firms of all sizes that promote diversity and support the legal needs of the community were eligible to earn the award.  An extensive checklist provided some of the criteria firms had to meet in order to earn points and achieve award levels in the following areas:  (a) Education, Training and Communications; (b) External Diversity Commitments; and (c) Internal Diversity Commitments.    If you would like more information about CCCBA and its Diversity Committee, please visit:

Congratulations to the firms who achieved CCCBA’s 2017 Diversity Award:

Platinum Level (earning 45+ points):
Archer Norris
Pearson & Schachter Law

Gold Level (earning 35+ points):
Littler Mendelson
Miller Starr Regalia
M.S. Domingo Law
Cooper, White & Cooper LLP

Silver Level (earning 25+ points):
Law Office of Marjorie Wallace
Leoni Law
Livingston Law Firm
Wu Castillo, P.C.

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The East Bay Chapters
is excited to announce our next book selection

Lincoln in the Bardo"
by: George Saunders

George Saunders’s much-awaited first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” is like a weird folk art diorama of a cemetery come to life. Picture, as a backdrop, one of those primitively drawn 19th-century mourning paintings with rickety white gravestones and age-worn monuments standing under the faded green canopy of a couple of delicately sketched trees. Add a tall, sad mourner, grieving over his recently deceased son. And then, to make things stranger, populate the rest of the scene with some Edward Gorey-style ghosts, skittering across the landscape — at once menacing, comical and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

     “Lincoln in the Bardo” takes, as its jumping-off point, the death of Abraham Lincoln’s beloved 11-year-old son, Willie, who succumbed to typhoid fever on Feb. 20, 1862, and the grief-stricken president’s visits to the crypt where his son was interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in nearby Georgetown. Saunders intercuts facts and semi-facts (culled from books and news accounts) in a collage-like narrative with some ghost stories of his own imagining, allowing a chorus of disembodied spirits to describe Lincoln’s visits, while babbling on about their own regrets and misplaced dreams. “Bardo” is the Tibetan Buddhist name for a transition period between death and rebirth and seems to indicate, in this case, the bizarre purgatory inhabited by these ghosts. .....
–The New York Times Book Review  

We will be meeting on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 5:45 p.m. at Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP, 2033 N. Main Street, Suite 720, Walnut Creek, for our book group discussion. Elizabeth Kohlman has graciously offered to host. I hope you can join your fellow EBALA members for this fun and enjoyable night.

If there is a book you would like The East Bay Chapters to consider in the future,
please contact Tina Riehl at [email protected] 

Our book club is open to all members. Please join us at any time.
The only cost to you is the purchase of the book.

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Fundraiser for Sonoma Strong Relief Efforts 

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, EBALA and GGALA teamed up to show continued support for those impacted by the Napa fires.  EBALA members, Tina Riehl, Brian Nervis, Elizabeth Kohlman, Joy Buchanan, and Andrea Everage, along with GGALA members, Annie Lathram, Jackie Hughes, and Crystal Evers conquered the 5K.  GGALA members, Jennifer Murov and Linda Belcher completed the 10K.  We look forward to continuing to build relationships with our fellow chapters, as well as looking for opportunities to serve the communities in which we live, work and play.  California  Strong

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Key Issues In Retaining Client Files In California
By: Daniel W. Hager, Corporate counsel, Ahern Insurance Brokerage

Records retention presents important issues of ethics (protecting client property and maintaining confidentiality and loyalty), risk management (avoiding ethical violations and claims), and expense (controlling the cost of maintaining records).  

How Long Must Client Files Be Retained?

In California, absent an express agreement with the client, there is no specific time period that client files from a civil matter must be retained.  The Los Angeles County Bar Association proposes at least a five-year retention period for “potentially significant” papers and property in civil files.  (L.A. County Bar Assoc., Formal Op. No. 450 [1994].) 

The State Bar and other county bars have not, however, adopted a set period for retaining files.  (See, Cal. State Bar, Formal Op. No. 2001-157 and BASF Op. No. 1996-1.)  They reason that destroying closed files requires an exercise of judgment, and that even if an item has no intrinsic value, but its loss could harm the former client, it should be retained or the information preserved.

According to the California State Bar, original documents with intrinsic legal importance – such as estate planning documents like wills and powers of attorney, real estate documents such as deeds and deeds of trust, and financial documents such as securities and promissory notes – need to be retained essentially indefinitely. 

Likewise, files from representing criminal defendants must be retained for the life of the client.

The five-year period recommended by the Los Angeles County Bar Association for civil files provides a reasonable time period for retaining documents with no intrinsic legal importance or which could be destroyed without harming the client.

Exercise Judgment Over What Can Be Destroyed

There is an ethical obligation to make a reasonable effort to determine whether documents with intrinsic value are contained in a closed file.  Depending on the circumstances, this may require a physical review of closed files before they are destroyed.

At the closing of all files, a qualified person (i.e., someone with sufficient legal background to identify original documents with potential intrinsic legal importance) should therefore review the file and document whether it contains any records that should be retained indefinitely.  Such documents should be segregated in separate, clearly identified files.  A concerted (and documented) effort to have the client take possession of such documents should then be made.

Contact Former Clients Before Destroying Files

Where the firm has not previously sought client consent to destroy files, it must be able to establish it has taken reasonable steps to contact the former client in writing at its last known address to solicit its direction on the planned destruction.  (See, L.A. County Bar Assoc., Formal Op. No. 450.).

Get Client Consent Up Front

Include a provision in every engagement agreement that describes the firm’s file retention policy and confirms that the client agrees that if it does not request return of its file within a specified time after its closing, the firm may destroy the file without further notice.  This warning should be repeated in all end-of-engagement letters as well.  If the retention policy has been communicated to the client twice, it will save the time and expense of future attempts to contact the client.

Maintain Confidentiality

Finally, an attorneys’ duty of confidentiality requires that file destruction take place in a manner that will preserve its confidentiality.  Use a professional service for the actual destruction that can verify it is using a procedure that protects client confidentiality.

Taking steps such as these to implement an effective records retention policy will help your firm meet its ethical obligations, reduce risk, and lessen costs.

**No portion of this article is intended to constitute legal advice. Be sure to perform independent research and analysis. Any views expressed are those of the author only.

For more information on how AHERN can assist your firm, please contact Stephen T. Lowe, Executive Vice President, at [email protected] or (858) 514-7110.

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Have you ever wanted to join a Book Club?  Well what’s holding you back?  Please join your fellow members as The East Bay Chapters explore various genres of writing.  One of the perks of our book club is you’ll read books you may never have picked up, getting you out of your reading rut.  If that isn’t reason enough to join us, there is the social aspect of meeting up with fellow members and having a very interesting discussion about books over wine and appetizers in a casual, fun atmosphere.

Were it not for The East Bay Chapters I never would have picked up our last title, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.  This is a factual account of a series of sinister murders perpetrated upon the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma, and the FBI agent who finally unravels the mystery and attempts to seek justice.  

The East Bay Chapters’ next selection is Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. We will be meeting on Monday, March 19, at Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP, 2033 N. Main Street, Suite 720, in Walnut Creek (across from the Walnut Creek BART station).  I hope to see you there.

Please join us at any time whether you have finished the book or not.  Our book club is open to all members.  The only cost to you is the purchase of the book.

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