|"Celebrate Your Freedom: Assuring Equal Justice for All" -- Photo by Declan Murphy
Declan Murphy, a senior at Corona High School in Riverside
County, won top honors in the ABA's sixth annual "Images of Freedom"
student photography contest with this stylized rendition of the scales of
justice. "Celebrate Your Freedom: Assuring Equal Justice for All" was the
theme of this year's contest, conducted in conjunction with Law Day.
In describing his entry, 17-year-old Murphy said, "I am
trying to depict that people of different races will receive equal treatment
under the law." Students from his photography class posed for the picture.
Murphy, who hopes to become a professional photographer
and will enroll next month at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa
Barbara, won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., where he appeared on
C-Span, a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and a plaque.
They need to prepare for divorce and custody battles
without an attorney's help. Or they are facing eviction with no legal
representation. Or they have legal questions about government benefits or elder
abuse. These days, such non-lawyers are just as likely as lawyers to be found
hunched over legal research in a local county law library.
But as a broader slice of the public turns to county law
libraries for assistance and as California's pool of self-represented
litigants expands, many such libraries are cutting hours and whittling away
their collections in the face of a decade-long funding crisis.
"It's been a creeping crisis," said Charles Dyer,
director of the San Diego County Public Law Library and legislative committee
chair for the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL). "We're
teetering on the brink."
Three lawyers who want to be president of the State Bar
have tossed their hats into the ring, each offering a distinctly different
package. One has devoted his career to legal services and dreams of promoting
pro bono work to bar members, another works in a two-person firm and knows well
the business challenges facing the many lawyers like her, and the third is
sticking to a straightforward promise to use dues responsibly to promote the
bar's core values.
The candidates, who clearly like and respect one another,
are James Herman, 56, of Santa Barbara, Maria Villa, 42, of Los Angeles, and
Scott Wylie, 38, of Costa Mesa. Each has a long history of bar involvement but
broadly divergent interests.
Herman, who steered the board to adopt the bar's first
strategic plan ever this year, has several goals if he becomes the bar's 77th
president: educate lawyers about what the bar does for them; educate the public
about the good lawyers do; recognize the value of the bar's educational
sections, which represent 40 percent of the membership; and stabilize the
bar's financing through a multi-year fee bill.
In determining the dues level, Herman said, the staff and
board "are disciplined to ask, 'What result, at what price?' But we also
need to take a much closer look at non-dues revenue sources to help with our
mandatory programs." He said the bar can only win a multi-year fee bill by
building trust, both in Sacramento and with bar members, "trust that we are
good stewards of the bar's resources."
Herman said the bar is developing several initiatives to
help its members, including the new lawyer assistance program for alcoholic and
drug-addicted attorneys and a soon-to-be-introduced member services center, and
he would like to add low-cost online MCLE and an improved insurance program as
elected, Herman, a civil commercial litigator with Reicker, Pfau, Pyle, McRoy
& Herman, would follow in the footsteps of Dale Hanst, a retired partner on
Herman's firm let-