The State Bar of California may join other
state bars throughout the country and create a position for a president-elect. An informal
poll of the board of governors last month indicated most lean toward the notion, which
current president Andrew Guilford said would enhance continuity.
the bars biggest difficulties is the transitory nature of the presidency,
Guilford said, explaining that a one-year term does not allow a president to accomplish
his or her goals before the term expires.
On a scale of
one to 10, the majority of board members gave the idea about an eight.
director Judy Johnson also supported the idea, describing continuity as a critical
factor for an effective presidency. She said legislators have expressed frustration
with having to deal with a different bar leader every year and suggested the change would
improve the bars relationship with Sacramento.
associations in the country have a president-elect; in fact, the ABA has a meeting every
year focusing just on that group.
position would require legislative action since a one-year presidency currently is
required by California statute (the State Bar Act, §6020).
position, if approved, would likely require a board member to serve five years, although
Guilford said he was open to choosing a president-elect at the end of a governors
second year. Each bar governor, except the young lawyers representative, serves a
three- year term. Guilford scheduled the election of next years president for this
month in order to give the winner more time to prepare for the job.
support for the idea, some board members expressed reservations.
a San Francisco public defender, gave the suggestion a five, saying he was concerned about
the effect of a four- or five-year commitment on sole or lower-income practitioners,
minorities and women. He said he thought the earlier election was an adequate response to
David Roth, a
sole practitioner from Oakland, opposed the change but wanted any discussion to be
deferred until the board better defines what it wants from a bar president.
president now has a dysfunctional role and has contributed to the problems of the State
Bar, Roth said. He believes the president now serves as a co-CEO of the bar when he
should instead be the bars spokesperson to its constituents.
governor Karen Nobumoto also opposed the change, saying it would impose too great a burden
on women and minority attorneys. Ive always hated the idea, she said,
because diversity would be negatively affected. A five-year track would be