California Bar Journal
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Let's build on a great year
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President, State Bar of California
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Palmer Madden, President, State Bar of CaliforniaAndrew Guilford filled his year as president with accomplishments and laid the foundation for his successors for years of work to come. Under Andy’s leadership we achieved what had only recently been unthinkable: bipartisan support for our dues bill. We raised over $8 million in voluntary contributions to support the work of the bar. We hired a terrific executive director and rebuilt our staff. Most importantly, Andy pointed us toward the task of preparing the profession for the future by bringing before us issues such as multi- jurisdictional practice and multi-discipline practice. He will be a tough act to follow.

A dues bill with substantial bipartisan support

For years, the annual State Bar dues bill had been a political football, which ultimately led to Gov. Wilson’s veto. For almost a year after the veto, the board of governors, led by one of my heroes, Marc Adelman, struggled to craft a compromise that would satisfy the bar’s critics. Marc, a sole practitioner, sacrificed for all of us by putting his practice on hold so that he could spend countless hours walking the halls of Sacramento trying to make a deal. Ultimately having put together a deal that it appeared would work, Marc found that the governor at the last minute made demands that were unacceptable to others in the legislature.

When Ray Marshall took over as president, he realized that we had to turn to the courts for help. Ray argued before the Supreme Court that it had the power and the obligation to fund the discipline system. The court agreed, issuing an order that partially funded the State Bar. Ray’s good work created the “ark” that we used to carry the key executive team through until we could refinance the State Bar.

This year, we were fortunate once again to have the right person at the right time. Andy could talk to both sides of the aisle in Sacramento. Andy made a commitment to Repub-licans and Democrats that the State Bar would go back to focusing on basics:  competence and discipline. But he also committed to making the effort to support the raising of voluntary funds to support the outreach efforts of the State Bar. As a result of his good efforts, this year there was substantial bipartisan support for the dues bill.

Contributions from our members to support the bar

In response to the effort of the State Bar to refocus on basics, we have received unprecedented support from our members. During the dues crisis, our members paid voluntary dues even though they were not required to do so. Last year, Andy asked those who make such payments to forgo their right to ask to have them used as credits. As a result of this request, over $7 million in voluntary payments were made to the bar. Moreover, last year we raised for the first time in excess of $1 million to support the scholarship and other programs of the State Bar Foundation. This is a resounding vote of confidence from our membership.

Rebuilding the State Bar

Gov. Wilson’s veto led to the firing of more than 500 employees, some of whom had been with the bar for over 20 years. We lost hundreds of years of experience. When funding was re-established, many of these valuable employees had moved on to other work. As a result, we had to rehire, train and deploy a large work force. All this time, we were operating under the supervision of Justice Elwood Lui, the special master appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the spending of dues money raised pursuant to the court’s order. Justice Lui devoted himself to examining our discipline system. Under his watch, then-chief prosecutor Judy Johnson tightened up our staffing and undertook initiatives to establish ways of resolving discipline matters earlier and more efficiently. Justice Lui’s final report both recognized the gains that had been made and offered guidelines for future activity.

Hiring a new executive director

There is an ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, Andy certainly had an interesting year. He had three executive directors during his tenure. First, Steve Nissen answered the siren song of Gov. Davis and moved to Sacramento. Then Jeff Gersick received an offer he couldn’t refuse to represent the state in London. As a result, during Andy’s year, we had to find a new executive director. Many thought that we should seek someone from outside the organization to bring us a new perspective; others thought we should seek someone who was a professional manager; and yet others believed that we had excellent internal candidates whom we should hire. We followed Andy’s excellent suggestion that we adopt a process that would respect all points of view. We set out diligently to find the best persons we could find from outside the organization and the best professional managers we could find. Then, having found the best of each category, we chose the best of the best. In the end, there was unanimous support for Judy Johnson.  

Andy laid the foundation for the bar’s future

Andy has been in the forefront of the effort to examine how the legal profession should adapt in this coming century. As a member of the Futures Commission, he called to our attention the issue of multijurisdictional practice. He has appointed a commission to look into how California should respond to the challenges of multidiscipline practice. He tirelessly called our attention to the need to improve access to justice and to increase the diversity of the bar. He gave pointed support to the effort of our staff to upgrade our computer capability and to make our website useful to the profession. Finally, Andy helped the board of governors by shepherding us towards a governance model that will avoid the type of micro-management that interferes with the staff’s work.

Andy, you have made great contributions to our profession. Thank you.

Palmer Madden can be reached at