California Bar Journal
spacer.gif (810 bytes)
spacer.gif (810 bytes)
Continued from Page 1
spacer.gif (810 bytes)

Howle concludes in the audit - the first conducted under new legislation which enabled the bar to get back on its feet following a virtual shutdown in 1998-99.

Howle lauded the "good stewardship" of mandatory fees, noting that the bar recognized it had an operating surplus - mostly from staff vacancies following the shutdown - and voluntarily lowered its year 2001 dues by $50 from the $395 authorized by the legislature. She also pointed out that the bar has significantly raised the amount it can charge offending attorneys for costs involving their own discipline, but admonished the bar for poor cost recovery in this area and said it is one element of the discipline system which needs improvement.

"We have worked hard over this past year to rebuild the bar by building a budget from the bottom up, monitoring all of our expenses and putting  in place procedures which provide a full accounting of every member dollar spent," said bar President Palmer Madden. He noted that, in addition to cost recovery from disciplined attorneys, the auditor pointed out only a handful of problems, mostly involving procedural steps with contracts and bidding.

While the auditor pointed out these problems, she also noted that by implementing the purchasing card system and contractual procedures, the bar has improved its policies for the overall procurement of goods and services. The State Bar has "established a purchasing card system that has strengthened controls over travel and minor business expenses," Howle noted, "and it has enhanced controls over its contracting practices by establishing competitive bidding requirements."