Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Obbard v. State Bar (Cal. Ct. App. - April 28, 2020)

Here's a good way to get your name in print:  Sue the State Bar of California.

Bonus:  And win!

Phillip Obbard is a research attorney for the Superior Court in Alameda County.  He doesn't feel like taking MCLE classes.  (Who does?)  But he's a member of the Bar, so he's facially subject to such a requirement.

But one exemption is for full-time state employees.  Which Mr. Obbard thinks applies to him.  But the State Bar says he's not an employee of the state; he's an employee of the superior court.  Obbard thinks that's silly; the state basically pays for everything, and his bosses (the judges) are surely state employees.  Plus, research attorneys for the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court are state employees.  Silly -- and maybe a violation of equal protection -- to treat trial court research attorneys any differently.

So he files a petition for writ of mandate.  Which, honestly, is a lot more work than just taking MCLE classes.  But more power to him.  This way, if he wins, all the trial court research attorneys benefit.  If you count not having to do MCLE as a benefit, anyway.  Which I do.  (Full disclosure:  One of the other exemptions to the MCLE requirement is for full-time law professors, an exemption from which I derive substantial satisfaction.)

The trial court agreed with Mr. Obbard, and so does the Court of Appeal, which affirms in a short and staccato opinion by Justice Burns.

So a win for trial court research attorneys throughout California.