How to Pass the California Bar Exam – Free Workshop

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Hello all,

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

For those of you preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching another free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” on December 3, 2014. This workshop will focus on writing for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the updates to the February 2015 bar exam. The workshop is limited to thirty attendees, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Unfortunately, we cannot make this workshop available online. However, we hope to see you in person! To register, click here and be sure to check out our Bar Exam Cram Session Website for our other course offerings.

All the best to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session

California Bar Exam: Good luck Today!

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Hello All,

Good luck on this morning’s essays! Remember to stay calm, believe in yourself and write your heart out!

You can do it!

I will be writing again during the lunch break (once I hear what was on the essays, feel free to email me with your thoughts at: barexamguru@yahoo.com).

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendment Approaches

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Hello All,

This may be my last post this evening. I noticed that several people were searching this blog for Criminal Procedure. In the past, I have given away several excerpts from our Criminal Procedure Bar Exam Writing Templates. These are still available on this blog, but you would have to search for it. So, I thought I would post links to our 4th, 5th and 8th Amendment Exam Writing Templates. You can download each below:

Fourth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Fifth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Eighth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Wishing you all the best of luck tomorrow!

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

Bar Exam: Criminal Law Murder Approach

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Hello Everyone,

I mentioned that murder might be on the exam. It has been absent for some time and would seem to be due. Of course, anything is possible. But, since murder has not been tested in a very long time. it would be a good idea to be prepared for it. As a bar taker you undoubtedly have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).

Approach for handling a murder question:

Address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

If you were to get a murder essay, I am thinking it could be in the context of Criminal Procedure (specifically in the context of the 8th Amendment and/or 6th Amendment).

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

July 2014 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

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Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! I realize in saying that – many are very worried about tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

First, the topics that were tested on day one’s essays and performance test were all within those expected. As a result, I do not have major revisions to the predictions. And, in case you are new to my blog, let me re-iterate that I do not think anyone can predict what will be on the bar exam with any certainty. I thought Evidence was going to be tested on the July 2014 bar exam, so did a lot of other people. It had not been tested on the essays in some time. But, it was on the performance test b on the February 2014 bar exam. So, it was somewhat up in the air. I felt that Professional Responsibility could be tested in the business organizations context and you saw that yesterday. Contract Remedies was probably the least expected by most who study the frequency of topics tested by the bar examiners. But, Contracts was on my list and any time you have Contracts you need to expect Remedies. Still, I doubt many walked into the exam expecting a Remedies exam. Okay, enough about day one.

As you may know, I am choosing not to discuss the performance test until next week. But, knowing what I know about Performance Test A from day one does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

Number one, study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. If you are fearful of getting Civil Procedure, then you better study it. Same goes for any other topic that you are fearful of seeing on the exam.

Number two, review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember Professional Responsibility could show up again. Review my prior posts for essay scenarios. It can not hurt to walk into the bar having just read about a particular issue combination. And, yes, I do think Civil Procedure my repeat from February . . . read my prior posts for more details.

Number three, if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: Three Days Away!

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Good luck photo for blog

Hello All,

The bar exam is now just three days away. It is normal to have some anxiety right now (okay, it is normal to have a lot of anxiety right now).  But, there is still time to review, and still time to gain a better understanding of how areas are tested, and still time to continue to memorize the law. You need to believe this in order to make the best use of the remaining time. Actively work at remaining calm and maintaining a positive attitude – it will only lead to a better study period in the next couple of days.

If you would like to be added to our July 2014 Bar Exam Tips Email List, please see my earlier post to sign up.

If you have read my prior posts, you know that Evidence is one of the subjects that I have suggested as a possibility for this July’s exam. Also, Constitutional Law could repeat – remember, anything can show up on the bar exam. Of course, you may not see either Constitutional Law or Evidence on the July 2014 bar exam. But if you were to see either subject on the essay portion of the exam, would you know how to handle it?

If you do not feel confident on how to handle a Constitutional Law essay or an Evidence essay today, just a few days before the test, is it too late?  Should you give up?  Of course not!

Two essays for your review: I am posting two essays here (I have posted these same essays previously on this site, I mention this in case you have already downloaded these). One is a Constitutional Law essay (involving a state statute that treats out of staters differently than in-staters . . . so what area does that bring to mind? If you do not know the answer to that, then you definitely need to read this essay and the answers . . . hint: you are required to determine whether the state law places an undue burden on interstate commerce). So, if Constitutional Law is something you are fearing – then I would take a look over the subject again (preferably by relying on a condensed outline of some kind). In addition, I would recommend that you take a look at a few essays in Constitutional Law. I would do the same for Evidence. Both subjects can be race-horse exams. So, keep this in mind when you are writing your answers. Get to writing as quickly as you can.

I have attached as downloads, a past Constitutional Law Essay and a past Evidence Essay that I think are worth reviewing (yes – even the Sunday before the exam – why not)?

The reason I think it makes good sense to review these exams a few days before the exam is because of this simple fact – a very similar essay exam could appear on day one or day three of the California Bar Exam. Therefore, it just makes sense to read through both essays. You can download the Constitutional Law Essay here: ConLaw Handout 2 F-05 and the Evidence Essay here: Evidence Transcript Style Essay

A couple of thoughts about Evidence: If you were to see Evidence on the exam (as you know) Hearsay is likely. It is hard to imagine an Evidence exam without hearsay showing up. Beware that the most commonly tested exceptions are Present Sense Impression and Excited Utterance (and both exceptions should be discussed if you think either is colorable). I would review Judicial Notice and Subsequent Remedial Measures as I think either could come up if you have Evidence (or even as a cross-over on another topic). Also, Best Evidence Rule is tested frequently on Evidence essays. If you have been reviewing past Evidence essays then you already know this. If, however, you have not reviewed many Evidence Essays, then it is not too late to review a few now, before the exam.

A couple of thoughts about Constitutional Law: This Constitutional Law essay is from the February 2005 bar exam. I think it is worth a read. DO NOT test yourself on this. Instead, simply read through it (stay calm while you do so) and read and study the answer. Spend about 25 – 30 minutes on it (a few more minutes if you think you will benefit from it). The key here is to be able to glean some insights into both the approach for Constitutional Law (the approach that is embraced by the California Bar Examiners) and also how to handle an essay that is similar to this Constitutional Law exam. I think it is quite likely that you would see something like this tested. It is certainly possible. Given that possibility – it can not hurt you to read through it. And, remember, it is really important that you simply “read through it” – DO NOT TEST yourself on this – just read it and do your best to connect the dots between the fact pattern and what was generated in the answers. Focus on this: “If I were to get this particular essay exam on the actual bar exam, how would I write my answer?”

Hopefully, you would stick to the issues that are addressed in both answers and even better, if you do see something similar to this particular essay exam, you will remember how to handle it on exam day.

With respect to the Evidence Essay – note the style of writing (what I call a “shot-gun” type of approach) that is used in the exam answers. Both are brief where needed and get through all of the calls in a pretty efficient manner. Also note that in a transcript exam you need to be prepared to write on form objections (examples of form objections include: leading, compound, assumes facts not in evidence, non-responsive, etc.).

Help me help you . . . 

I will be posting again on Tuesday right after the essay portion of the bar exam – I will be counting on my students and blog followers to send me what was tested on the essay section of the bar exam so that I can update my predictions with respect to what I think might be more likely to show up on day three of the essay exam. So, if you have a moment, please email me after the essay portion of the bar exam on Tuesday. This will help me, help you – it is always good to have a sense of where to focus in these final days and even on the days of bar exam. Of course, no one can predict this exam. But, it can not hurt to put some extra time into an area that might be more likely to show up.

I will be hearing from my enrolled students on the break after the essays on Day One. But, the more people I hear from, the better I will have a fix on what was actually tested on Tuesday (essay wise) so that I can work up my next set of predictions for day three. Just a note – because there are some examinees with accommodations who will be taking the bar exam over a six day period, I will limit my discussion to the essays only – I will not discuss the performance test until the week after the bar exam.

Thank you again for following the blog.

I wish you all the very best of luck in your remaining studies! Remember to stay positive and to believe in yourself!

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review and BarExamCramSession.com
(213) 529-0990

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Bar Exam Predictions: July 2014 Bar Exam Part One

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Hello Everyone,

First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck in your studies this week and I want to thank you for following my blog. It is quite humbling and is truly an honor to have this reach into bar examinees’s lives and to be able offer some support and advice for free. It is one of my favorite things to do.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ME: I will post predictions here today and additional thoughts about predictions through the weekend. I will also post an update after day one of the bar exam, but this will be limited to thoughts about what might be on day three’s essays based upon day one’s essays. My “predictions” are really just possible essay scenarios that I think are a bit more likely on this bar round. Always, my enrolled students needs must come first. But, I will continue to post here as often as I can up through the bar exam.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION? The point of making predictions is not to tell you that you should study these areas exclusively. It is simply intended as some guidance for what might show up and should it show up, the fact that you have given these areas a little bit of extra thought will feel very good on exam day. If you are weak in any of these areas, then it especially deserves some extra treatment. If you are weak in an area that is not on my list – you NEED to give that area extra attention. Do not assume something will not be on the bar exam. ANYTHING can be tested on the essays and you should have prepared with that in mind. Anyone who tells you something is not going to be tested is ignorant of what the bar exam in California is like – topics repeat back to back on multiple bar rounds – so do not discount any topic.

CAVEAT: NO ONE CAN PREDICT WHAT WILL BE TESTED ON THE BAR EXAM. If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with what I call essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering.  I do not recommend that someone conduct their studies around predictions. However, I do think it is helpful to focus a little extra time on some of the areas that might be a bit more likely to show up on the bar exam – especially if any of these topics are areas that are weaker areas for you. So with that in mind here are some of my thoughts on what could be tested on the July 2014 bar exam . . .

Criminal Law – Murder, crossed with Criminal Procedure: Make sure you know your essay approach for murder – murder has not been tested in a very long time and it would make for a nice cross over with Criminal Procedure. Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure were not on the February 2014 bar exam. And prior to that, testing of Criminal Law has focused on the theft crimes and it has been an unusually long time since the bar examiners have tested murder. It is due for testing.

Business Organizations – I think Business Organizations is fairly likely. One possible scenario could include a cross-over with Professional Responsibility. Other potential ares include federal securities law (10b5 and 16b) as this area has not been tested in a very long time. However, more typical for testing in Business Organizations are: the areas of duties (duty of care owed by officers and directors and the defense of the business judgment rule and duty of loyalty), usurping corporate opportunity, ultra vires acts and what is required to bring a shareholder derivative suit. Be sure to know rules regarding “fundamental corporate changes” and what types of things amount to a fundamental corporate change requiring shareholder approval. What has yet to be tested is the area of “winding up” (or dissolution) of a partnership, be sure to know these rules as well.

Evidence (perhaps – finally – a transcript style essay). Evidence was tested heavily on the Performance Test in February 2014. However, it was not tested on the essay section of the bar exam and appears to be “due” . . . that being said, no one can predict the bar exam. I would, however, make sure that you know your form objections so that you are prepared for writing an Evidence Transcript style essay should you see one of these on the exam next week. Evidence is usually a race horse exam and requires you to move through many issues quickly. Equally likely, in my opinion, would be a Criminal Law/Procedure essay that is crossed with an Evidence issue. In past bar rounds the bar examiners have combined Wills/Community Property, and Evidence all into one essay exam. This sounds like a nightmare, but in actuality it is not bad at all. When an essay exam tests multiple subjects like this, the calls are usually made very clear for you. For example, in the Wills context, the bar examiners have tested Spousal and Marital Communications Privilege and when they did, the call of the question for the Evidence issue went like this: “Is the communication between Hal and Wilma privileged?” So, you see, that isn’t that bad – a call like this clearly directs you to address the only kind of privilege that Hal and Wilma could have (as a married couple).

Property – Covenants & Equitable Servitudes (I will write more on this soon).

Professional Responsibility (as you know Professional Responsibility is generally always tested on the essay section every bar round). Take a look at my predictions from February 2014 bar exam – you will note that I suggested that you could see a professional responsibility fact pattern that straddles corporations or in the criminal law context (it was tested in the criminal law context last time and could repeat that way again this time or may show up in the context of business organizations – for example, a lawyer who is representing a corporation and the specific issues that come up in that context. This did not show up on the last bar exam and as a result I feel it is a bit more likely).

Wills/Trusts I think is just about as likely for testing as Business Organizations. I am leaning towards perhaps a Trust formation issue somewhere on the exam. Again, these are my thoughts based upon my studies of the test over many years. This is not a sure thing at all – you should assume that anything could be tested.

Constitutional Law could repeat and if it does: be on the look out for a fact pattern involving state taxation of interstate commerce. First Amendment was tested last time (mostly religion, but also speech). The First Amendment is heavily tested on the bar exam, this could repeat, so be sure to know your First Amendment Speech approach.

Continue reading below this form for more predictions . . . 

For more insights, join our Bar Exam Tips and Predictions Email List and receive a free copy of our Evidence Handout, complete the form below:

Be sure to select “yes” or “no” in the drop down menus below and click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the form to be added to our list.

Note: This handout will be available until July 31, 2014.

Your contact information is safe – we do not share, or sell your information. Okay, back to possible areas of testing . . .

Civil Procedure could repeat: This topic was on the last bar exam and I think it could repeat. Remember, any topic can show up back to back on consecutive bar exams. You need to expect that – better yet – be prepared for any topic. So, if Civil Procedure were to repeat, what is perhaps the most likely? Well, the most commonly tested issues in civil procedure are jurisdictional issues (Personal Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction) as well as venue (generally always a very short issue in terms of how much time you should spend on it), removal (also a very short issue coverage) and collateral estoppel and res judicata. The last bar exam tested subject matter jurisdiction as well as final judgment rule and interlocutory appeals.

So, what specifically do I think could come up in Civil Procedure? Always Personal Jurisdiction and Subject Matter Jurisdiction are likely – since these areas are historical favorites for testing on the California bar exam. I think it is perhaps a bit more likely you might see personal jurisdiction over subject matter jurisdiction, but truly anything is fair game. Make sure you know personal jurisdiction (minimum contacts analysis) in case this is tested.

If Civil Procedure is tested again, what about California Civil Procedure?

There are some areas that we just have not seen tested in a while (and many of these areas actually have a Federal/CA distinction).  These areas – that have been tested heavily historically – but have not been tested recently – are where I am leaning a bit more heavily for this bar round in the event that Civil Procedure repeats in July.

The areas that I feel are particularly due include: Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata (one of my first picks if you were to have Civil Procedure on this bar exam) and the possible tack on type issues of: Notice and Code Pleading and/or Remittitur and Additur. See more detail below:

Pleading issues – like Notice and Code Pleading – would not require a long discussion, but it is tested often and does include a Federal/CA distinction. Federal Courts utilize Notice Pleading and California follows Code (or what is also referred to as “Fact” pleading). Another tack on area (by tack on – I mean it is typically a shorter issue on your essay exam, not something that can make a full one hour essay) that I could imagine might be on this next bar exam is the concept of remitittur and additur. But, recognize that these “tack on” type issues of Notice/Code Pleading and Remittitur/Additur are typically short issues.

What about Supplemental Jurisdiction? Sure, it can always be tested. BUT, bear in mind that if supplemental jurisdiction is tested, it will likely be what I refer to as a “tack on” issue or call because it would not be a large part of the question, but rather a shorter call within an essay exam). Typically you would expect supplemental jurisdiction to come up in the context of a Federal Diversity Jurisdiction essay.

What about Class Actions? Class actions has not been tested in a very long time – I keep thinking that is due, but, If you look at what is most often tested in Civil Procedure it is jurisdiction (PJ and SMJ and Venue, Supplemental Jurisdiction) and Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata the absence of Class Actions does not necessarily mean it is coming. So while class actions has been absent for many bar rounds, it is still no more likely in my mind, as jurisdiction or Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata. But, if you were to see a class actions issue, it is easy. Simply know the requirements, state each and address each separately (using separate headings for each requirement).

Incidentally – be sure not to mix up Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel – make sure you know which one is issue preclusion and which one is claim preclusion. Here is one way to keep the two straight: the “C”s do not go together – in other words: Collateral Estoppel is Issue Preclusion and Res Judicata is Claim Preclusion. Should you get tested on this area – be certain to make note of the California (and minority) “primary rights” view with respect to claim preclusion.

Okay, enough said about Civil Procedure! It may or may not show up, but if it does, I hope this post helps you.

I will post more thoughts on possible areas for testing very soon.

In the meantime, keep at it. Believe in yourself and stay positive. Maintaining a positive attitude in the days leading up to the exam is key. There is still a lot of time – use it well.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review and BarExamCramSession.com
(213) 529-0990