California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - APRIL 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - April 2001
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News / News Briefs
Bar foundation gives $50,000 grant to fund Conference of Delegates
Bar hit with $2.35 million fee demand in lawyer dues case
Bush administration ends ABA review of judicial candidates
Special publication in May Bar Journal
Davis appoints two public members to board of governors
George lauds five years of reform
2001 Annual Meeting will be held in Anaheim
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Trials Digest
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Legal Tech - FindLaw: Lawyers' home on the web
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Opinion
From the President - Butter a slice, not a full loaf
Is it wrong to copy a song?
Letters to the Editor
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Update on ethics
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MCLE Self-Study
Kids and the Law
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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You Need to Know
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Public Comment
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - 2 new rulings send litigators back to basics
Forgery, grand theft, fraud convictions lead to resignation
Attorney Discipline
Bar hit with $2.35 million fee demand in lawyer dues case
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Two months after the State Bar withdrew from a decade-long legal battle over how to spend its members' mandatory dues, attorneys who filed the original challenge submitted a $2.35 million bill.

Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed the fee request in Sacramento County Superior Court for hours spent on Brosterhous, et al. v. State Bar of California, in which Judge Morris England found some bar activities should not be funded with lawyers' dues. The bar dropped its appeal in January, saying it no longer funds the programs in question, which now are supported by voluntary contributions.

PLF is seeking $1.081 million for about 5,000 hours of work and more than $97,000 for 358 hours of work by attorneys at Nageley, Meredith & Miller. It asked that the award be doubled to $2,358,892.40 based on the complexity of the case, its degree of difficulty, the results, public interest value and what it charged were the bar's bad faith and delay.

Deborah J. La Fetra, PLF's lead attorney on the case, says in her motion that the bar "had every opportunity to limit its fee liability but chose not to do so."

She argues that changes in bar budgeting - particularly not using member fees to pay for the Conference of Delegates, lobbying and bar committees devoted to such issues as ethnic minority relations and sexual orientation - are largely the result of the Brosterhous case.

State Bar general counsel Marie Moffat said the bar is willing to negotiate fees, but called PLF's demand unreasonable. She pointed out that if the court awards the fees requested, it will cost each dues-paying bar member $13.50, compared to the $10 award granted to the 41 plaintiffs in the case.

The case did not have the "constitutional dimensions" to warrant high fees or a mulitiplier, she said.

"The governor's veto and subsequent legislative changes were all things that occurred before Judge England's decision," Moffat added.

The court is expected to decide the fee issue this month or in May.