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

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - July 2001
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News / News Briefs
Two-year fee bill goes to governor
Janet Reno, low-cost MCLE highlight Annual Meeting
Stanley Mosk dies at 88
State Bar wins ABA's Harrison Tweed Award for pro bono, legal access, IOLTA efforts
Foundation will accept grant applications beginning July 16
Winnebago of justice serves those on the road less traveled
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Trials Digest
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Legal Tech - Matter management is not just for litigators
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Opinion
From the President - Public members bring fresh views
Holding judges accountable
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
Alcohol and the workplace
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics update...
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You Need to Know
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Public Comment
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Level field or a judicial practical joke?
Former DA disbarred for drunken-driving coverup
Attorney Discipline
Nine candidates vie for five seats
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Continued from Page 1
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The seats in Districts Three (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties) and Seven (Los Angeles, office one) are contested.

The needs of sole practitioners in California are cited by several candidates, who range from a familiar name - former attorney general John Van de Kamp - to a lawyer who joined the bar only last December. On the other hand, Van de Kamp says he wants to serve on the bar board because large firms no longer hold a single seat.

Other issues range from multidisciplinary practice to the efficient use of limited resources to unpublished appellate opinions.

Although the election is so far quiet, it was the subject of a threatened free speech lawsuit last year by a law professor and a former board member and unsuccessful candidate. San Jose attorney Richard Alexander, who has twice run unsuccessfully for the board, complained about election procedures that he said violated candidates' First Amendment rights. He caught the attention of Boalt Hall professor Stephen Barnett and Karl Olson, a San Francisco First Amendment expert.

In avoiding the suit, the bar agreed to give candidates more time to gather signatures and campaign, increased the length of the voting period and allowed candidates to include in ballot statements mailed to voters a full description of their ideas and campaign platforms as well as criticism of the bar. The candidates also were able to obtain lists of attorneys in each district earlier in the election season than in previous years.

Those statements are on the bar's website, www.calbar.org.

Ballots were mailed July 2 and voting will end Aug. 17.                           

DISTRICT 2

As a "certified bar junkie," WINDIE O. SCOTT is familiar with the board of governors and considers it the State Bar's "central point of power." She wants to be at the forefront of the bar's "new era of accountability," helping to oversee fiscal accountability and services to members.

Windie O. Scott"I know we're in another era," Scott says. "It's not going to be business as usual and I think there will be more accountability. It's a great challenge for the bar to try to keep the activities the bar junkies like and still be accountable to the people who are not so interested in the things we've done in the past. It's a balancing act."

Scott was president of the Sacramento Bar Association in 1997, and served as president of the Wiley Manuel Bar Association and the Women Lawyers of Sacramento and vice president of the northern chapter of the California Black Women Lawyers' Association.

As a member of the conference of delegates executive committee, she is a strong supporter of the group but says she would keep an open mind about the group's occasionally controversial activities.

A longtime public lawyer, Scott, 48, is chief counsel for the California State Workforce Investment Board, a 2-year-old appointed board which focuses on job and economic development in the state.

She starred in a film produced by her sister for a master's degree. The semi-documentary, which has been shown twice at the Cannes Film Festival, is about Scott's experiences in an integrated Mississippi school at the time of Martin Luther King's assassination.

DISTRICT 3

Sole practitioner MICHAEL LYNN GABRIEL places the interests of his solo colleagues at the heart of his campaign, urging the State Bar to be more user-friendly and responsive to their needs.

One way to meet those needs is the creation of an internet bulletin board where lawyers could seek help from other lawyers. Gabriel envisions a lawyer picking an area of practice, referencing particular code sections and asking a question. The answer would be indexed and a database of information created. The lawyer who responds to the question would receive continuing education credit.

Michael Lynn GabrielGabriel himself is an MCLE provider, marketing his courses in five states, and has prepared 17 legal books on topics ranging from bankruptcy to estate planning. He calls his courses "very, very user-friendly; much better than the State Bar courses."

The 47-year-old Gabriel, who is based in Redwood City, also favors amnesty for lawyers who are in professional trouble but have not yet been charged with misconduct by the bar. If they seek help from the bar about office management and correct their problems, their record should be clean, he said. "The purpose of the bar should be to help attorneys and the public with prevention as much as punishment," he explained.

Gabriel also suggests that the bar create a web page where bar members could post questions to their representative on the board, thus enhancing the governors' accountability.

In addition to his CLE business, Gabriel continues to handle estate planning and tax issues. He enjoys scuba diving and biking in his spare time and currently is restoring classic cars.

Just six months after being sworn in as a California lawyer, HOLDEN W. GREEN decided to seek a seat on the board of governors in the hope he can make the justice system more accessible.

Although he practices in Santa Clara County and joined the county bar association, Green took the unusual step of joining the bars of San Mateo, Contra Costa and Ala-meda counties as well. "You need to show all the members in your district that you are committed to listening to their concerns and needs," he explained.

As a sole practitioner, the 40-year-old Green is concentrating on civil litigation, but hopes to start an environmental practice.

Holden W. GreenIf elected, he would concentrate on increased support for pro bono work, making the legal profession more accessible to the disabled by careful oversight of the bar exam, and increasing consumer awareness of the State Bar and of their legal rights.

Although Green said he does not favor mandatory pro bono for attorneys, he wants the bar to make it easier for lawyers to do more pro bono hours. He would like to tap the expertise of inactive attorneys and possibly offer reduced dues to those who volunteer their services to the poor.

"There are a lot of people who don't have access to good lawyers," Green said, adding that he intends to devote 5 percent of his workload to pro bono work.

Green received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and earned his law degree from National University School of Law. Describing himself as "pretty savvy" about the wine business, Green said, "If I wasn't a lawyer, I would want to be a som-melier."

Emeryville sole practitioner and former candidate for statewide political office MICHAEL SCHMIER wants the State Bar to take a stand on the issue of unpublished appellate decisions, a practice he says undermines the legal system.

"My opinion is it is a change in the locus of power in our society from the written law on the one hand to the personal whims and caprices of the folks that wear the black robes," Schmier says. "If you cannot look up in a book and find out what's required, then you have to go to court and see a judge."

Calling the issue a "sunshine in government idea," Schmier said the courts should be open to everyone. "The ability to cite decisions is the only thing that keeps the courts in line," he said.

Michael SchmierIndeed, he feels so strongly about the issue that he even filed an unsuccessful lawsuit last year, seeking to change California court rules.

Schmier, 56, believes the bar is influential when it comes to adopting such rules and wants it to embrace the issue, as well as address other flaws in the judicial system, including the use of private referees and what he calls an error-prone death penalty system. "If the justice system isn't delivering justice, how can it consider imposing the ultimate penalty?" he asked.

A current member of the Emeryville school board, Schmier ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year and for attorney general in 1998. His practice focuses on labor and employment, and in his spare time he likes to sail, ski and ride horses.

In an era of belt-tightening, Burlin-game attorney MARIE SETH WEINER favors the efficient use of limited resources all around, whether it is helping sole practitioners or diverting lawyers out of the discipline system when they have drug or alcohol programs.

Pointing out that the majority of lawyers in District 3 are sole practitioners, the partner at Cotchett, Pitre & Simon said she would like to see the State Bar devote more resources to meeting their needs.

Marie Seth WeinerWeiner, who was president of the San Mateo County Bar Association last year and has a long list of other bar and professional memberships on her resume, said she supports the discipline system's continued focus on egregious misconduct rather than using its limited resources to focus upon such minor infractions as "the mis-accounting of pocket change, which is unduly burdensome on sole practitioners."

In addition, Weiner favors efforts to foster diversity in the legal profession, and as a longtime participant and former chair of the conference of delegates, she believes the conference "should be embraced, not shunned." She said past boards have "put the conference in a corner, as if it were a naughty child. But their thoughts should be welcome and should not be ignored."

A partner at Cotchett since 1991, Weiner, 42, specializes in investment fraud and consumer fraud, and also handles a variety of business litigation and some intellectual property matters. Her husband, a former attorney, now operates a catering business and is a stay-at-home dad for the couple's two children.

DISTRICT 4

With an extensive history of bar and community activities behind him, RUSSELL S. ROECA will add one more to his resume when he joins the board of governors as the District 4 (San Francisco and Marin counties) representative.

He currently serves as vice president of the San Francisco Fire Commission, was a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco board for four years, and has been extensively involved in malpractice issues. "I believe I have an obligation to the community to be involved and, as a lawyer, an obligation to the profession to insure that it's proactive and responsive to the public and the community we serve," he said.

Russell S. RoecaRoeca, 47, says he does not bring a particular agenda with him, although he takes seriously the issue of access to the justice system. Describing himself as a "big supporter" of voluntary legal services, he said, "I have a big concern that legal services don't get to those who need them." He also is a strong backer of increased diversity in the legal profession, opening it to "those traditionally excluded.

A graduate of UCLA, Roeca earned his law degree from Hastings law school and specializes in professional liability matters, as well as real estate and some commercial litigation. He is a partner in Roeca Haas Hager, which he describes as a small niche firm in San Francisco. He is interested in politics and likes to garden in his spare time.

DISTRICT 7, OFFICE 1

The State Bar's board of governors has traditionally been somewhat insular, its members chosen by local bar activists, says MATTHEW CAVANAUGH, a Los Angeles transactional attorney who was not endorsed by local bar activists.

As a result, he believes, the board is not responsive to the needs and problems of ordinary attorneys - primarily economic survival.

Matthew Cavanaugh"The bar needs to spend less time dealing with expensive litigation and ideological issues and more time looking at the economic challenges that face lawyers today, and it needs to be an effective advocate," Cavanaugh says. "The bar should make its chief goal helping lawyers succeed in the modern economy."

Pointing to competition from large accounting firms and other non-lawyers, Cavanaugh said it's time for the bar to examine its rules, particularly those involving conflicts and fee-sharing, to help its members compete in the marketplace.

Cavanaugh, 38, was not endorsed by the Breakfast Club, the Los Angeles lawyer group which traditionally sends successful candidates to the board of governors. But he suggested past board members who received the club's endorsement contributed to the bar's "pretty embarrassing messes" and said it is "time for everyday members to govern the State Bar."

He is of counsel with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a District of Columbia firm, teaches at Whittier Law School and is a real estate broker. He belongs to both the Orange County and Los Angeles County bar associations.

PATRICIA LOBELLO-LAMB is a big fan of the unified bar and believes the California bar is envied throughout the country. For years, she has looked for and encouraged qualified candidates  to run for the board of governors and decided this year it's her turn.

Patricia Lobello-Lamb"It's important we work to have the best people who are willing to volunteer their time and energy to keep our bar at its best," she said. "We don't recognize how well we are thought of outside our state."

Lobello-Lamb believes highly qualified people provide good corporation organization for the bar, enabling the board to study controversial issues such as multidisciplinary practice and multijurisdictional practice, two questions on which she has not taken a position.

"I'm very concerned about attorney-client privilege with respect to MDP," she said, adding that she has yet to see any guarantees that core values of the legal profession will be maintained if the rules of practice change. But she also wants the bar to be active in deciding the issues so that "some other organization outside the legal profession doesn't try to foist rules on us that don't meet our criteria."

Lobello-Lamb, 59, has served on the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, belonged to three bar sections and has been involved with numerous professional and charitable organizations, including 30 years with The Breakfast Club, which endorsed her candidacy.

A partner in Lamb, Morris & Lobello, where she handles a wide array of civil cases, Lobello and her husband, a retired attorney, have three adult children and six grandchildren.

DISTRICT 7, OFFICE 2

Former California attorney general JOHN VAN DE KAMP says it's time for someone with extensive bar experience as well as a big firm background to resume a seat on the board of governors, now dominated by public lawyers and solo or small firm practitioners.

John Van de KampHis experience includes public and private practice as well as years of bar activism: he currently is of counsel to Dewey Ballantine LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based firm with more than 50 lawyers in Los Angeles, he was a federal public defender and Los Angeles district attorney before being elected California's top lawman, and he's a longtime bar activist, with lengthy membership in the conference of delegates as well as other professional involvements.

His continuing connections in Sacramento don't hurt, although Van de Kamp credits the bar with having "gone a long way towards mending our fences. I haven't heard any concerns (from lawmakers) lately, but you never know," he said.

Van de Kamp, who appointed the State Bar Court's first discipline monitor when he was attorney general, believes the discipline system has bounced back well from its near shutdown following Gov. Pete Wilson's veto of the bar's fee bill in 1997. Of the court created under his watch, he said, "There was a crying need for a system that had some speed and fairness and strength and that's what emerged."

Van de Kamp supports some type of reciprocity to make it easier for attorneys to practice in California and other jurisdictions without having to pass multiple bar exams, and he favors a look at the rules governing multidisciplinary practice.

Van de Kamp, 65, handles a mix of work at Dewey, is president and general counsel of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, was recently elected president of the California Historical Society, is president of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and serves on the board of United Airlines.

The candidate biographies were prepared by Nancy McCarthy. Information provided by the candidates themselves, including a list of bar and community activities and formal platform statements, are online at www.calbar.org.