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John Van de Kamp sworn in as bar’s 80th president

John Van de Kamp
John Van de Kamp takes the oath of office

Former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, who at 68 has devoted nearly his entire adult life to public service, took yet another oath last month as State Bar president and immediately set out to raise both public and lawyer perception of the bar and the legal profession.

“People should know what lawyers do, and lawyers should be active in and proud of their profession,” said Van de Kamp, who has pledged to travel the state and honor lawyers who consistently donate their talents and expertise to their communities. At the same time, he hopes to foster a greater understanding of the State Bar’s public protection function and raise awareness of the wealth of legal information the State Bar offers free to consumers of all ages.

“The fact of the matter is, that lawyers and the legal profession are part of the glue that holds this society together,” the new president said. “We helped create our constitutional rights. We help write the law. Some of our lawyers become judges. We counsel and advocate on behalf of our clients on issues that range from house purchases and tax matters to matters of life and death, and we do it through a civilized system built on due process standards, as opposed to bloodshed and violence.”

Sworn in by Chief Justice Ronald M. George during the bar’s Annual Meeting in Monterey, Van de Kamp succeeds Anthony P. Capozzi of Fresno. He is a partner and of counsel at the Los Angeles offices of Dewey Ballantine LLP. Before serving as attorney general, he spent eight years as Los Angeles District Attorney, served as a federal public defender in Los Angeles and director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys under Deputy Attorney General Warren Christopher in Washington, D.C.

During his year as bar president, Van de Kamp said he wants to continue the progress the bar has made in public protection, encourage more pro bono service, improve benefits for members of the bar and increase diversity within the profession.

The bar’s demographics indicate an under-representation of attorneys from the Hispanic and African American communities, Van de Kamp said. “We need to do a better job educating high school and college students of color about the opportunities in law.”

The new bar president’s complete remarks are available at calbar.ca.gov/archive/calbar/pdfs/bog/2004-VdK-President-Speech.pdf.

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