Winning the Lottery

For Wednesday, February 11’s drawing, the Powerball has reached an incredible $485 million. Winning the lottery is a dream for many, but for some winners it’s been the cause of great misfortune, so much so that it’s believed there’s a “lottery curse.”

If your numbers come up tomorrow night, here’s a few articles with advice for you. The consensus is that the most important thing is to sign your ticket, and after that, to find reputable help–an accountant or tax lawyer–to plan out how you’ll get your money and what you’ll do with it. After that, the sky’s the limit…

Get some help with that payout.

12 Things not to do if you win the lottery

7 Money mistakes most lottery winners make


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Phone Scams

The library received a very interesting call the other day. A voice on the phone told us we were behind on our utility payments and if we did not send payment immediately, they would send someone to shut off our power. Those of you who have been to the law library might understand why this call was an obvious scam: we’re located in the Ventura County Government Center, a large complex with multiple buildings, and we don’t have a separate power supply from the rest of the building we are located in. However, the scammers were so rude, abrupt, and insistent that it’s easy to see why some people are intimidated into sending them money.

As tax season is among us, there will be an equivalent rise in the number of these scam callers claiming to be from the IRS, demanding payment by money order or credit card. Other callers pretend to be from the courts (the Superior Court of Ventura County warned about these scams last April) or the police department. Some even claim to be a relative in need of cash!

Things to remember, based on advice from and local police departments:

  • Legitimate companies and government agencies will never ask for a money order or wire transfer;
  • If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a debt collector, ask for the person’s name and address, the company they represent and the original creditor (if indeed you have an outstanding loan). If they can’t provide this information, hang up;
  • If you’re concerned about the status of an unpaid debt, hang up and call the creditor back yourself at the phone number provided on your loan paperwork;
  • If the amount demanded is significantly more than the debt you owe, it’s probably a scam;
  • Check your credit report. If the debt the caller claims you owe is not listed on there, it’s probably a scam;
  • Don’t be intimidated if the debt collector is abusive or threatens legal action or arrest. Request that written notice of the debt be mailed to you and tell them that you do not wish to be contacted again about the debt. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector must respect this request.

Here’s where you can go to report these scams:

If you feel you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to your local police department.

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Pneumatic tubes and other newfangled devices

Interesting news out of the year end report on the state of the Federal Judiciary from Chief Justice Roberts–

The Supreme Court will bypass the federal judiciary’s somewhat troubled electronic case-filing system in favor of its own, expected to come in 2016. But the chief justice’s accounting is perhaps most useful for what, with a bit of between-the-lines reading, it reveals about why, he admits, “the courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity.”

The history of the pneumatic tube and the Supreme Court’s slow adoption of it is discussed in the first few pages, making this anything but a dry read.

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Now Offering Westlaw Next

For the past few months VCLL has had access to Westlaw Next available to patrons and staff, and the response has been fairly positive. While change can be difficult, Next offers enough improvements and interesting features that the learning curve has not been as steep as some might have expected. Curious about how to use Next?

Hofstra Law Library recorded the following basic tutorial:


Next uses its single search bar to offer results without needing to narrow focus area. The search bar is powerful–it’s often compared to Google, and runs similarly. It can correct spelling, suggest search results, and picks up more results than ever before.


Stop by the Ventura County Law Library any time to test out Westlaw Next!

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New California Laws!

A whopping 930 laws are going into effect this year, most starting January 1st. The LA Times has this article covering the new laws, which deal with everything from sports team owners taking a tax deduction for penalties (inspired by Donald Sterling), the new “affirmative consent” standard on college campuses, an increase in California’s film production tax credit, and more.


The Ventura County Star also covered the new laws, including one allowing dogs to dine with their owners on restaurant patios, so the next time you’re out to brunch, don’t forget Fido!

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Ventura County Law Library on Social Media

Bring out your Likes and Retweets–we’ve joined Twitter and Facebook!

We hope to use these resources to highlight library programs and services.


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Social Media for Lawyers

Building a social media presence is an effective way to attract new clients, but not all platforms are created equal, and many require regular updating and engagement.



This eBook from James Toolbox, written last year, lays out the basics of linked in: how to use it strategically and how to make the most of its strengths as a platform. An updated booklet identifies “6 New LinkedIn Strategies for Lawyers” in light of several changes to the LinkedIn platform this year. The ABA offers LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, and a basic guide to a LinkedIn marketing plan, to get you started.

Great for: Networking, professional connections, publicizing qualifications. The new blog interface allows you to communicate effectively with potential clients about your strengths.

Cons: Success on LinkedIn depends heavily on the amount of time you put into it. But the rewards can be great: This Forbes post discusses the success one Northern California attorney had with LinkedIn, after spending 30 minutes a day using and updating it.


Facebook offers the option of Pages for businesses, offering a more official face than your typical personal Facebook profile. Real Lawyers Have Blogs has a tag compiling all Facebook related posts on the blog, ranging from practical tips to the pluses and minuses of using a personal profile as your public Facebook face.

Pros: Ubiquity. Facebook has a larger user base than LinkedIn. This post discusses some basics for getting started. Facebook also has extensive analytics for Pages and targeted ads, as discussed in this guide to Facebook Pages.

Cons: Facebook is thought of as a personal platform, and the potential to mix the personal with the professional can have consequences. Attorneys have gotten in hot water for posting negative comments to their Facebook profiles, so be mindful of your privacy settings, as well as potential conflicts and the need for disclaimers.


Twitter is the most unstructured of the three platforms covered here, and as a result getting started can be daunting. The average Twitter user only has 61 followers, and the time needed to develop content, create connections, and engage with others can be daunting. As with LinkedIn, the ABA has published Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers, though its 2012 publication date makes it somewhat out of date. There are many great blog posts on utilizing Twitter effectively, from “5 Tips to Help Lawyers Make the Most of Twitter,” which covers some of the basics of getting started, setting goals, and understanding the fast, breaking news style cycle of Twitter. There’s a great list of 50 Twitter accounts for lawyers to follow, part 1 and part 2; and a great presentation from Janet Fouts on Twitter for Lawyers.

Pros: Twitter moves fast! There’s a tremendous opportunity to connect with others and present interesting information to potential clients.

Cons: The potential for missteps is high, and in order to effectively engage on Twitter you need to find a balance between being professional and being yourself. Like all three platforms discussed here, there’s a time investment required to do well on Twitter. Third party Twitter apps like HootSuite can allow you to schedule tweets and otherwise keep up a steady momentum, but interactions are especially important on Twitter.

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10 Tips for Drafting a Parenting Plan

This material is reproduced from the CEBblogTM, 10 Tips for Drafting A Parenting Plan ( copyright 2014 by the Regents of the University of California. Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar – California. (For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site,


When parents don’t agree on a child custody issue, the parenting plan is the tiebreaker. Given this power, family law attorneys need to draft parenting plans with the utmost care to make sure that uncertainty and ambiguity don’t undermine the best intentions.

A court-ordered parenting plan governs how parents will share the “care, custody and management of their child.” What goes into a proposed plan is often the result of extensive negotiations and mediation.

Parenting plan provisions must be clear, certain, and directive. The goal is that anyone who needs to review the plan, e.g., parents, judges, court personnel, school/daycare personnel, or law enforcement officials, can quickly find and understand the relevant provisions. Ambiguous language can create conflict, result in unenforceable or impractical provisions, and often requires litigation to achieve clarity.

Regardless of the specific plan provisions, follow these 10 tips for every parenting plan you draft to guide all parties towards maximum clarity—and minimal conflict:

  1. Use an outline and label sections with headings.
  2. Use the simplest possible language, never exceeding a 12th-grade vocabulary and avoiding legalese.
  3. Keep sentences short.
  4. Use the present tense.
  5. Use the terms “legal custody,” “physical custody,” and “visitation” to increase the probability of recognition and enforcement in other jurisdictions. Generally, this requirement is satisfied by stating: “The parents are awarded joint legal custody according to the following plan” or “The parents are awarded joint physical custody according to the following schedule” or similar language that brings the plan within the statutory scheme and goes on to provide the specifics.
  6. When using terms of art based on the Family Code, cite the relevant code section and, when appropriate, incorporate the language of the code section into the plan.
  7. Distinguish between duties and elective acts by using “must” (or “will”) or “may.” “Shall” creates ambiguity because it has at least eight separate meanings.
  8. Avoid provisos. The phrase “provided that” may be read as an exception, condition, addition, or limitation.
  9. Never use the passive voice; always specify who “must” or “may” do what.
  10. No one ever remembers who is the petitioner and who is the respondent once they get off the caption page. Use “Petitioner-Mother” and “Respondent-Father” (when the parents are opposite sex) or identify the parties in the first paragraph, and then refer to them consistently by name throughout the order.

For everything you need to know about drafting parenting plans, turn to CEB’sCalifornia Child Custody Litigation and Practice, chapter 4.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Lawyers at the Library – The First Seven Months

We held our first Lawyers at the Library event on April 10, 2013 with a session on Understanding Small Claims Court. From April to October we had:

  • 10 lectures at the law library
  • 1 lecture at the Simi Valley Public Library
  • 1 lecture at the EP Foster Public Library
  • 176 attendees total
  • Speakers: 10 attorneys and 1 paralegal
  • Subjects ranging from Bankruptcy to Employment Law to Criminal Law and more



Attorney Mike Ford discusses criminal law.


Attorney Mary M. Howard discusses restraining orders.

We thank all our attendees and speakers! Below are all our fliers for the events.








Lawyers in the Library 2014 began again in 2014 with a session from attorney Lou Vigorita on Social Security and will continue with one lecture a month until October 2014. Sign up for the mailing list!


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Clerk Recorder Resources

Did you know the Ventura County Clerk Recorder has a comprehensive website featuring many of their forms and information? Click the logo below to visit their website! Forms include Fictitious Business Statements, Declaration of Homestead, Quitclaim Deeds, and more. You can also search for documents, file an online application for a marriage license,  file for a fictitious business name, and more using their Public Inquiry system.


Clerk Recorder Logo


Also, the Clerk Recorder has opened an East County office! From their announcement:

The Ventura County Clerk and Recorder East County office is office is Now Open!! This office will be open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. in the Thousand Oaks City Clerk’s office located at 2100 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard.  The Clerk and Recorder will issue marriage licenses, process fictitious business name filings and clerk certificates, record real property documents, and issue certified copies of birth, death and marriage records at this new location. Wedding ceremonies will continue to be performed only in the main Ventura office.

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