California Bar Journal
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Three candidates seek presidency
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terhead, who led the bar in 1983. In addition to chairing the board's budget and planning committee this year, Herman is a past president of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, and has been a board liaison with a wide variety of groups, including the bar's education sections, the California Judges Association and California Women Lawyers.

Los Angeles business litigator and appellate specialist Villa also has a long list of bar activities on her resume, including the presidency of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, founder of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, former deputy regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and chair of three board committees.

She has worked to put a spotlight on non-lawyers practicing law, particularly in the areas of immigration and bankruptcy, and is pushing the bar towards a pilot program to combat unauthorized practice. "The State Bar has to step up to the plate here," she says.

Villa practices with her husband, Steve Lathrop, and says that as a partner in a two-lawyer operation, she's a good representative of bar membership in California. "I know the challenges of balancing a career, a small business and trying to run a family," she said.

Villa thinks the State Bar should offer assistance to the many lawyers who don't know the ins and outs of running a small business, particularly in areas such as offering insurance, low-cost MCLE programs (and keeping track of members' credits), and online research capabilities.

She also wants to keep dues as low as possible, but says the bar has little leeway if it is to provide members some services and keep the discipline system intact.

Longtime public interest lawyer Scott Wylie says if he is elected, he would use the presidency as a bully pulpit "to encourage bar service and pro bono work," a cause to which he has devoted his career. Currently head of the clinic and externship programs at Whittier Law School, Wylie previously served as executive director and general counsel of the Public Law Center, the legal services operation of the Orange County Bar Association.

"For someone like myself who's devoted most of his career to trying to insure that the indigent have access to justice through private bar volunteerism, the opportunity to explain the joys of that work to lawyers is very exciting to me," Wylie said, describing the prospect as "a dream opportunity."

Wylie said he also believes he has the leadership skills to guide the board through a new governance structure designed to focus the board on policy rather than the bar's day-to-day operations. "We need to develop the tools to effectively use the lawyer members and public members of the board to tell our story to our constituencies," he said. "That means hitting the road, talking to bar groups, sometimes working with members of the legislature or the Judicial Council in joint projects to make sure our voices are heard.

"We need to sit down and figure out how to use the resources our board members bring to the party."

Wylie, who says he often jokes that he chooses who to work with based on personal passions rather than political ambition, has focused on issues like fairness and access to justice, diversity and the Client Security Fund during his three years on the board.

He also serves on the board of the Orange County Bar Association, is a member of the Foundation of the State Bar, was chair for two years of the bar's legal services section and was for seven years a board member of the Orange County Homeless Issues Task Force.