A vital component of the State Bar's mission is
service to the people of California. The Conference of Delegates helps
the State Bar to fulfill that worthy goal by working year in and year
out to improve California laws for the benefit of all Californians.
The conference succeeds because of the depth and breadth of experience
and expertise of the attorneys who volunteer to participate as
Held each year in conjunction with the State Bar
Annual Meeting, the conference provides an effective means for lawyers
to work together to improve California law. Delegates debate and vote
to approve or disapprove proposed changes to the law. Many of the
proposals arise from problems that lawyers encounter in their
Some, for instance, may be simple adjustments to
or clarifications of discovery or other procedural rules. Others may
entail wholesale changes to, or even the creation of, entirely new
substantive areas of law, such as resolutions that ultimately became
law in the areas of elder abuse and minor's contracts (i.e., the
The unifying impetus is a common desire to
improve the system of laws and justice for everyone in California.
After the conference closes, approved resolutions
are categorized and prioritized by the governing body, the executive
committee. The State Bar Board of Governors then adopts some of those
resolutions and places them on the bar's legislative agenda. The
executive committee lobbies a few. Others are lobbied directly by the
sponsoring bar associations.
The success and importance to California of the
conference program are perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that
former Gov. Pete Wilson, who criticized the conference in his 1997
veto of the State Bar's dues bill, nevertheless signed into law no
fewer than 150 bills that originated from conference resolutions.
The conference works exceptionally well because
of the diverse experience, expertise, ethnicity, background and
politics of the 600 or so lawyers from 50 local, minority and
specialty bar associations from across the state who volunteer to
participate as conference delegates. Prosecutors and defense
attorneys, plaintiffs' and insurance defense lawyers, litigators and
transactional attorneys, family lawyers, probate lawyers, legal
services lawyers, big firm lawyers, solo practitioners and corporate
counsel all bring their differing perspectives and work together to
find solutions to problems.
Since each delegate also brings to the conference
his or her own political point of view, it follows that the actions of
the conference become the nonpartisan reflection of those diverse
These conference volunteers deserve many thanks
for their hard work. They provide invaluable services to the bar by
working to improve the laws of California and, thus, serving the
people of this state.
Judy Copeland represents District 9 (Imperial and San Diego
counties) on the board of governors.