California Bar Journal
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9 candidates seek State Bar seats
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Staff Writer
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Three unopposed candidates will begin three-year terms on the State Bar Board of Governors next month, while six candidates battle it out to represent two other seats on the 23-member board.

Candidates from Districts One (Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties), Seven (Los Angeles) and Nine (Imperial and San Diego counties) ran without opposition and were automatically elected.

The seats in Districts Three (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties) and Five (Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus and Tulare counties) are contested.

For the first time, one candidate will succeed his wife when her term concludes next month. A former board member is seeking a new term and, if elected, it is believed he’d be the first to win two three-year terms. Most of the candidates have strong bar-related backgrounds, but the issues each stresses vary widely, from legal services to the importance of the educational sections to fighting the unauthorized practice of law. Several candidates expressed support for a three-year funding bill, a recommendation of special master Justice Elwood Lui, as a way to stabilize the bar and permit long-range planning.


Chico attorney ROBERT KEITH PERSONS practices with his wife, Valerie Miller, and will succeed her as the representative for District 1. Perhaps with some understatement, he says, “I have a pretty good idea of what the board does and what it doesn’t do.”

Robert Keith PersonsActive in the bar for many years, Persons lists an improved relationship with the legislature at the top of his priorities, and says he hopes to educate lawmakers about what the bar does. He is a strong supporter of the Conference of Delegates, where he has served on the executive committee for three years, and believes its importance as a legal resource should be made clear to the legislature.

He also puts a high priority on better outreach by the bar to its members. “We need to let lawyers know the bar is there to assist them, not just discipline them,” he says. “There’s a perception that the bar is just discipline and admissions. We’re more than that, and we should be more than that.”

A general civil practitioner, Persons, 46, practices primarily business and real estate law.

He and Miller have no children. They like to travel, ski and kayak, and a trip to Fiji is on their August calendar.


San Jose attorney RICHARD ALEXANDER, who served on the board of governors from 1985-88, wants to make a comeback because he believes he knows what reforms are needed to make the bar relevant to California attorneys. The key, he says, is better communication.

“Nobody can tell you who represents them on the board,” he says. “That’s because the board is more concerned about talking to itself.” He favors a president elected by the membership, because “that would require those people who want to be president to actually communicate with the membership and do what the members want.”

Richard AlexanderHe also wants to poll the membership to determine its priorities in order that the bar can be more responsive to lawyers and serve their needs.

The first attorney certified as a northern Califor-nia civil litigation specialist in 1980, Alexander, 55, is a partner with Alex-ander, Hawes & Audet and runs, a legal information website for the public. His resume offers a lengthy list of law-related activities, including the presidency of the Santa Clara Bar Association, membership in the bar’s Committee on Professional Ethics, and serving as a founding member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

Alexander and his wife are the parents of two grown children and enjoy hiking in the coast range and the Sierra in their spare time.

Arthur 'Mike' BredenbeckARTHUR “MIKE” BREDENBECK went from representing the Rod McLellan Co., a well-known orchid grower based in Half Moon Bay, to running the place as its chairman when he retired three years ago from the Burlingame firm of Carr, McLellan, Ingersoll, Thompson and Horn. He also served as chair of the Council of State Bar Sections and would like to put that experience to work on the board of governors.

“We have to refocus on our critical mission,” Bredenbeck says. “We have to improve the quality of education and our other services and undertake a major public relations effort to teach the public about the professionalism, quality and need for lawyers in this state.” The upcoming survey of California lawyers about MCLE is critically important, he says, and should help the bar improve its continuing education program to serve the needs of both lawyers and the public.

Pointing to attorneys’ tremendous buying power, Bredenbeck, 60, says the bar should expand the professional services it offers to its members, particularly in the area of communications and technology, adding that those services can help keep fees in line.

In addition to a variety of law-related activities, Bredenbeck, who is single, serves on the board of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, chairs the capital campaign to restore Grace Cathedral and is the former chair of the Mills Peninsula Hospital Foundation.

Oakland attorney THEODORA LEE would like to use her experience as president of the Alameda County Community Food Bank to help the board of governors improve its system of governance. At the food bank, she helped implement a policy governance model which emphasizes vision, values, leadership and empowerment of the governors and the executive director, an approach she believes would serve the State Bar well.

Theodora LeeComplex issues like multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional practices, the unauthorized practice of law and continuing education also are among the priorities the bar should address, she says. “The debate should focus on our obligations to our clients and to the public, while preserving our independence as lawyers, maintaining our commitment to professional development and retaining our sense of ethical conduct,” Lee says.

In addition, she supports continued efforts to assure access to justice, and places a high priority on strengthening and increasing diversity in the profession.

Lee, 38, has been practicing in the Bay Area for 13 years and is currently the managing shareholder of Littler Mendelson in Oakland. Her resume offers a lengthy list of activities, including the presidency of the Barristers Club of the Alameda County Bar Association and the Bay Area Black United Fund, as well as membership in numerous legal organizations.

Lee is single and when she has any spare time likes to travel, read and bicycle.

ERICA YEW says she would begin a term on the board of governors with an open mind and no pre-conceived notions, willing to be educated about issues before formulating her opinions. “I’m not sure I’d want to change things,” she says. “My role would be to represent people who practice in District 3. I’m supposed to listen to people, make a reasoned evaluation and advocate for those I represent.”

Erica YewAs a 1991 winner of the State Bar’s Wiley Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, Yew does admit she’s a strong supporter of legal services for the poor. And as a faculty member at Stanford Law School’s Advocacy Trial Workshop, she has a strong interest in education and likes MCLE the way it is.

She adds, “I think it’s important to have representation of people from diverse backgrounds, diverse practices and diverse racial backgrounds.”

A partner with McMainis Faulkner & Morgan in San Jose, Yew, 40, practices civil litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, primarily in the areas of intellectual law and personal injury. She has served as a child advocate for two girls since 1981, representing the interests of the two who were dependents of the court. She also served on the board of the program.

Yew, who is single, also volunteers and serves on the boards of two other pro bono organizations, is a past president of the Asian-Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley and currently co-chairs the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s judiciary committee.


ANTHONY CAPOZZI thinks the State Bar needs to make itself important to California lawyers. “We belong to the bar because we’re mandated,” says last year’s president of the Fresno County Bar Association. “I want to give a reason for the State Bar to exist, a reason for us to pay dues. I want attorneys to say, ‘I belong because the bar is helpful to me.’”

Anthony CapozziTo revitalize the organization, Capozzi says he would tap the expertise of all local and specialty bars in the state, and develop better communication between those groups and the State Bar.

He also believes the bar needs to address critical issues, such as multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional practices, improve the quality of legal services and mount a public relations campaign to improve lawyers’ image. “We’re not bad people,” he says. “We want to help people and improve our society and we need to change our image.”

A sole practitioner, Capozzi, 55, works primarily as a trial attorney in federal court, handling civil and criminal white collar defense. 1999 was a busy year — at the same time he headed the county bar association, he also served as president of the San Joaquin chapter of the Federal Bar Association when its leader was named a judge. Capozzi also serves as a judge pro tem in the county traffic court.

He and his wife are the parents of an 18-year-old and a 13-year-old. In his spare time, he likes reading legal thrillers, playing golf and traveling.

Monterey patent attorney F. DAVID LaRIVIERE has long been active in the State Bar’s educational sections, which he considers the backbone of the organization. But it is his interest in the bar at large that prompted his candidacy. “It’s time for the bar to move on,” he says. “We’ve survived the crisis, and it’s time for us to go on with the business of doing good.”

F. David LaRiviereLaRiviere said he strongly agrees with the final report issued by Justice Elwood Lui, the special master appointed by the Supreme Court during the funding crisis two years ago, particularly his recommendation that the legislature enact a three-year fee bill so the bar can stabilize its finances. “We fix the finances and a whole lot of other problems fall away,” LaRiviere says.

A longtime advocate of continuing education, LaRiviere, 60, believes MCLE is good in principle, but he’s not sure the program is as effective as it might be. “I’m not sure how to tinker with it, but I think attorneys should have the incentive to maintain their sharpness in the practice of law.”

A partner at LaRiviere, Grubman and Payne, LaRiviere has co-chaired the Council of State Bar Sections, serves as a fee arbitrator and is a past member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

He and his wife, Wendy, admissions director for the Monterey College of Law, enjoy golf “because we live in golf mecca,” and they like to ski in their spare time.


Los Angeles attorney NANCY HOFFMEIER ZAMORA will end her presidency of California Women Lawyers the same day she’s sworn in as the newest representative of Los Angeles on the State Bar Board of Governors, continuing a history of intense involvement in a large number of legal and women’s organizations.

Nancy Hoffmeier ZamoraShe cites a large number of issues she wants to tackle once that term begins, including strengthening the bar’s relationship with the legislature, focusing on long-range planning, particularly a multi-year fee bill, and taking a hard look at what she calls an upswing in the unauthorized practice of law, especially in immigration, bankruptcy and family law.

“The bar is again on the upswing, and we need to encourage more participation from our members state-wide, including recruiting them for our committees,” Zamora said. She also wants to open the lines of communication with members of the legislature, creating greater continuity between lawmakers and bar leaders, and discussing issues other than bar dues. In addition, Zamora offered her support for executive director Judy Johnson’s efforts to run a tight ship, with a focus on discipline and budgetary concerns.

Zamora, 40, who won the influential Breakfast Club endorsement in her district, practices with her husband Tony, handling primarily bankruptcy law and business litigation.

She has served on the board of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and its judicial appointments committee, belongs to the Mexican-American, Langston and Latina Lawyers bar associations, and is a member of the board of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.


San Diego attorney JUDITH COPELAND makes no bones about being a long-time bar junkie. “I actually care about the profession,” she says. “I care about how we are perceived, about how we handle ourselves.”

And unlike other candidates for the board of governors, she openly says she thinks some State Bar programs should be eliminated, although she’s not yet sure which ones. “I have some vague things in mind, but I think I need to know more,” she says.

Judith CopelandCopeland, 51, believes the State Bar should offer support to local bars and encourage them to handle the many social programs which have caused the bar so much grief in recent years. “Let the local bars decide what they want to do,” she says.

At the same time, she knows what activities the State Bar should continue: the Conference of Delegates, MCLE, the educational sections, admissions, discipline and the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE).

Indeed, JNE has a special place in Copeland’s heart, having served four years and twice as chair. In addition, she belonged to the Conference of Delegates for 13-plus years.

A probate specialist, Copeland works with a partner handling elder law, and she belongs to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. A widow, she lives with her 16-year-old son, Austin, and plays volleyball, raquetball, and wallyball (a combination of the two), and loves the Padres and Chargers.

Ballots were mailed last month for the board elections. Attorneys whose place of business is in one of the five bar districts with an open seat are eligible to vote. The last day to vote is Aug. 18. The successful candidates will be sworn in at the bar’s Annual Meeting in San Diego in September.