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SB-544 State Bar: admission: license: moral character review: mental health medical records.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 07/30/2019 09:00 PM
SB544:v94#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 544
CHAPTER 152

An act to amend Section 6060 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to attorneys.

[ Approved by Governor  July 30, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  July 30, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 544, Umberg. State Bar: admission: license: moral character review: mental health medical records.
The State Bar Act provides for the licensure and regulation of attorneys by the State Bar of California, a public corporation governed by a board of trustees. Existing law provides for the creation of an examining committee within the State Bar with specified powers, which include the power to examine applicants for admission to practice law. The act imposes specified requirements for a person to be certified to the Supreme Court for admission and a license to practice law, including a requirement that an applicant be of good moral character.
This bill would prohibit the staff of the State Bar or members of the examining committee, in reviewing whether an applicant is of good moral character, from reviewing or considering the person’s medical records relating to mental health, except as specified. The bill would prohibit the staff of the State Bar or members of the examining committee from requesting or seeking to review any medical records relating to mental health, including by obtaining the consent of the applicant to disclose the records, except as specified.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 6060 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6060.
 To be certified to the Supreme Court for admission and a license to practice law, a person who has not been admitted to practice law in a sister state, United States jurisdiction, possession, territory, or dependency or in a foreign country shall:
(a) Be at least 18 years of age.
(b) (1) Be of good moral character.
(2) (A) In reviewing whether an applicant is of good moral character under this subdivision, the staff of the State Bar or the members of the examining committee shall not review or consider the person’s medical records relating to mental health, except
if the applicant seeks to use the record for either of the following purposes:
(i) To demonstrate that the applicant is of good moral character.
(ii) As a mitigating factor to explain a specific act of misconduct.
(B) The staff of the State Bar and members of the examining committee shall not request or seek to review any medical records relating to mental health, including by obtaining the consent of the applicant to disclose such records, except as requested by an applicant and for a purpose specified in subparagraph (A).
(c) Before beginning the study of law, have done either of the following:
(1) Completed at least two years of college work, which college work shall be at least one-half of the collegiate work acceptable for a bachelor’s degree granted on the basis of a four-year period of study by a college or university approved by the examining committee.
(2) Have attained in apparent intellectual ability the equivalent of at least two years of college work by taking examinations in subject matters and achieving the scores as are prescribed by the examining committee.
(d) Have registered with the examining committee as a law student within 90 days after beginning the study of law. The examining committee, upon a showing of good cause, may permit a later registration.
(e) Have done either of the following:
(1) Had conferred upon them a juris doctor (J.D.) degree or a bachelor of laws (LL.B.) degree by a law school accredited by the examining committee or approved by the American Bar Association.
(2) Studied law diligently and in good faith for at least four years in any of the following manners:
(A) (i) In a law school that is authorized or approved to confer professional degrees and requires classroom attendance of its students for a minimum of 270 hours a year.
(ii) A person who has received their legal education in a foreign state or country where the common law of England does not constitute the basis of jurisprudence shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining committee that the person’s education, experience, and qualifications qualify them to take the examination.
(B) In a law office in this state and under the personal supervision of a licensee of the State Bar of California who is, and for at least the last five years continuously has been, engaged in the active practice of law. It is the duty of the supervising attorney to render any periodic reports to the examining committee as the committee may require.
(C) In the chambers and under the personal supervision of a judge of a court of record of this state. It is the duty of the supervising judge to render any periodic reports to the examining committee as the committee may require.
(D) By instruction in law from a correspondence law school authorized or approved to confer professional degrees by this state, which requires 864 hours of preparation and study per year for four years.
(E) By any combination of the methods referred to in this paragraph.
(f) Have passed any examination in professional responsibility or legal ethics as the examining committee may prescribe.
(g) Have passed the general bar examination given by the examining committee.
(h) (1) Have passed a law students’ examination administered by the examining committee after completion of their first year of law study. Those who pass the examination within its first three administrations upon becoming eligible to take the examination shall receive credit for all law studies completed to the time the examination is passed. Those who do not pass the examination within its first three administrations upon becoming eligible to take the examination, but who subsequently pass the examination, shall receive credit for one year of legal study only.
(2) (A) This requirement does not apply to a student who has satisfactorily completed their first year of law study at a law school accredited by the examining committee and who has completed at least two years of college work prior to matriculating in the accredited law school, nor shall this requirement apply to an applicant who has passed the bar examination of a sister state or of a country in which the common law of England constitutes the basis of jurisprudence.
(B) The law students’ examination shall be administered twice a year at reasonable intervals.