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REPRESENTATION

Parties can appear in propria persona or through representatives, which are usually attorneys or "hearing reps."  Non-attorney representatives are allowed: "Either party may be present at any hearing, in person, by attorney, or by any other agent..." Labor Code §5700. But the legislature imposed limitations: " A representative who is not an attorney licensed by the State Bar of this state shall notify the appeals board in writing that he or she is not an attorney licensed by the State Bar of this state." Labor Code §5501

To discourage independent non-attorneys from claiming fees, the legislature passed two laws: Labor Code §4903 ("No fee for legal services shall be awarded to any representative who is not an attorney") and Labor Code §5710 ("A reasonable allowance for attorney’s fees for the deponent, if represented by an attorney licensed by the State Bar of this state.") The way around this is for the hearing rep to be an employee of a law firm.: see Board Rule §10773.

Presumably abuses have continued, as SB 863 amended Labor Code §4907 to give the Board and its judges the power to remove, deny, or suspend the privilege of a non-attorney to appear in any proceeding" (1) For a violation of this chapter, the Rules of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, or the Rules of the Administrative Director. (2) For other good cause, including, but not limited to, failure to pay final order of sanctions, attorney’s fees, or costs issued under Section 5813." The amended statute holds non-attorney representatives "to the same professional standards of conduct as attorneys."

The WCAB Policy and Procedural Manual discusses appearances by non-attorney representatives.

Some attorneys become certified as specialists in workers' compensation law.

"An attorney who has been disbarred or suspended by the Supreme Court for reasons other than nonpayment of State Bar fees, or who has been placed on involuntary inactive enrollment status by the State Bar, or who has resigned while disciplinary action is pending shall be deemed unfit to appear as a representative of any party before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board during the time that the attorney is precluded from practicing law in this state."  Board Rule §10779

See, too, Attorney Fees

Label Item Links Comments
Labor Code Non-attorney agents allowed: The application may be filed with the appeals board by any party in interest, his attorney, or other representative authorized in writing. A representative who is not an attorney licensed by the State Bar of this state shall notify the appeals board in writing that he or she is not an attorney licensed by the State Bar of this state."

"Either party may be present at any hearing, in person, by attorney, or by any other agent..."
LC §5501







LC §5700
 
  Limitations on fees
LC §4903
LC §5710
 
Business & Professions CodeBusiness & Professions Code B&P §6147 on contingency fees " shall not apply to contingency fee contracts for the recovery of workers' compensation benefits." B&P §6147  
Regulations/Rules WCAB Rules concerning Attorneys and  Representatives

Advertising regs

Hearing reps as law firm employees
Regs re representation


Advertising

Board Rule §10773
 
WCAB Policy & Procedure Appearances by non-attorney representatives Policy and Procedural Manual  
Forms DWC-3

Notice of Dismissal of Attorney

Fee Disclosure

Dismissal Form

 
Cases 99 Cents Only Stores v. W.C.A.B. (Arriaga) (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 644: "The conclusion that nonattorneys employed by licensed counsel can represent injured workers at depositions, but that such services are of lesser value is further supported by WCJ Pamela Foust, an acknowledged authority regarding lien claims....We further find that since fees for such services can only be awarded under the umbrella of a law firm, the value should be judged by the same guidelines as for attorneys....[W]e disapprove of awarding a lay hearing representative an hourly rate comparable to that which would be awarded licensed attorneys, absent sufficient substantiation." 99 Cents Only Stores v. WCAB
Websites Search for certified specialist in workers' compensation (try Advanced Search) State Bar search  
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