California Bar Journal
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15 candidates vie for 5 board seats

Voting continues until July 1; winners take office Oct. 10

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LAURA GOLDIN is a certifiable bar junkie. She and her husband met when both belonged to the Conference of Delegates, a group Goldin ultimately chaired. Her father served on the board of governors. She has attended almost every board meeting for years. All of this, she believes, has given her a familiarity with State Bar issues that make her uniquely qualified to join the board herself.

"I think that long involvement gives me credibility, because I've worked closely and not so closely, agreed and disagreed, worked through issues with other people in leadership who are governing the State Bar," Goldin said. "It's given me a good handle on the issues."

As for the often-controversial conference, she says, "We need to continue to work on having a separate entity with an ongoing relationship with the State Bar."

Another key issue in California is how to deal with the diversity of types of practices, she says. The bar faces the daunting task of representing and addressing the needs of corporate, large and small firm lawyers and solo practitioners while at the same time protecting the public. The board is examining issues such as multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional practice, which primarily affect large firms and "at some point, we have to start looking at what the practice of law means to the rest of us," she said.

Goldin, 48, practices with her husband, Tony Rothschild, in a two-person San Francisco firm where she handles family law, probate and bankruptcy.

The couple have a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, and two Belgian Tervurans. Goldin also sits on the board of the new Conservatory Theater Center in San Francisco and is active in the PTA.

San Francisco attorney MARIE F. HOGAN says it is not clear where the State Bar's dues money goes and she is not convinced it is spent right. "I'm running because I'm concerned about the members getting the maximum benefits they can for the dollars we're spending on our dues," she says.

A longtime volunteer with the bar's educational sections - she was chair of the business law section in 1998 and of the Council of State Bar Sections in 2000 - Hogan believes the sections offer a lot of bang for the buck in the form of low-cost continuing education courses and publications. They also help pass legislation, work with regulators and judges and help make the practice of law rational. "All without muss or fuss and on their own nickel" because they are self-supporting, she says.

Hogan can't say the same for the bar, where she believes technology lags a decade behind that in law firms, information is not dispersed efficiently and there's little to show for the amount of dues paid. As the bar rebuilds, Hogan says it is recreating old problems and she questions its relevancy to its members' day-to-day practice.

If elected, Hogan, 52, says she has no illusions but would try to nudge the bar toward improved financial accountability. She says she'll "look hard at some of the efforts the bar is undertaking. Are they inner-directed to those who hang around bar associations or are they directed to the members? I want to know where the money goes and why we have so few results to show for it."

An attorney since 1975, Hogan is a business lawyer practicing in-house with financial institutions. Her husband also is an attorney, practicing as in-house counsel with the California State Automobile Association. The couple enjoy skiing and photography in their spare time.

RODERICK A. McLEOD thinks the State Bar needs to go to its members - literally. Rather than just affecting those at its margins, the ones in trouble or those who need help, it should interact better with the vast majority who pay their dues and don't get in trouble. "We ought to bring more State Bar programs to local districts, we ought to knock down or eliminate the perception that the bar is run by a group of elitists, that the only people who are attracted to the bar are bar junkies," he says. "Maybe we should host informal gatherings in each district and not charge bar members anything. Maybe we ought to give something back instead of taking all the time."

And, after a brief pause: "Maybe at every convention, we ought to hand out free drink coupons to every bar member who comes and shows his card!"

McLeod, 53, a business litigator and partner with Brobeck Phleger & Harrison LLP in San Francisco, hasn't been involved with the bar for the last decade after service in the 1980s on the board of the Bar Association of San Francisco and a two-year stint with the conference of delegates. But he watched closely as the bar's relationship with Sacramento deteriorated during the 1990s, a relationship that raised questions about how active the bar should be and what  sorts of stands it ought to take.

Now, he says, it faces big challenges, such as whether it is structured properly, the efficiency of the discipline system and the future of the conference of delegates. "I don't know the policy implications, but I know these are big issues," he says.

And the major question: "Are we as relevant as we should be to the regular rank and file member?"

McLeod says representation on the board of governors has swung in favor of small firm and government lawyers and as a big firm partner, he would bring some balance to the group.

Married and the father of three children, he belongs to the Filipino-American Democratic Club, is a former president of the Filipino Bar Association and recently was appointed by Gov. Davis to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

ROBERT H. PEREZ' professional calling has always been public service and access to legal services for low- and moderate-income people. It's a motivation he pursued from his early days as a lawyer, when he helped direct legal services non-profit agencies in East Los Angeles, Watts and Venice. He went on to create and operate the Model Cities Center for Law and Poverty in East L.A. and then joined the State Bar in its legal services division.

Perez, 65, later worked in the consumer and environmental protection section of the San Francisco district attorney's office and now supervises that city's Department of Child Support Services.

If elected to the board of governors, that interest would continue, he says, adding, "I think I have enough experience and knowledge to be able to be of help to the State Bar." But he also is interested in helping small firm and solo practitioners with programs and courses directed towards providing more technical know-how, business development and in general enabling them to work more effectively.

He also wants to figure out how to help the conference of delegates, which he calls "a worthy organization," move into a position where it can enjoy free speech without eliciting negative reaction from legislators and other lawyers. "It's a great idea to spin it off," Perez says, "but I don't want that to be a message to the profession or to members that we're totally disassociating ourselves from them."

In addition to his State Bar involvement, Perez belongs to La Raza Lawyers East Bay and San Francisco, the Lawyers Club of San Francisco and has served on the boards of several Hispanic community agencies, including Centro del Pueblo, a multi-agency community building in San Francisco, and the Mission Learning Center. He has five grown children.

San Rafael attorney MATTHEW N. WHITE offers a simple platform in his run for the board of governors: Are the members of the State Bar getting their money's worth? He believes the bar exists to serve its members, and as someone who has been writing his own dues checks for almost 20 years, he says the issue of how the money is spent is particularly relevant. "I think before the State Bar decides to do anything, it has to ask, 'How is this going to benefit the members?'" he says.

As the sole proprietor of his personal injury firm, White, 47, also has to find and pay for continuing education courses, "so I know how hard it is to find meaningful classes. Those  programs have to be available, accessible, affordable and most importantly, they have to be meaningful," he says, particularly those addressing special subject areas such as bias and substance abuse.

In addition, solo and small firm lawyers, who usually don't enjoy the luxury of having full-time bookkeepers and accountants, are fearful of becoming targets of the bar's disciplinary unit, White says. "There may be a good reason the system operates as it does, but it's not explained to the members. We don't know why people are getting singled out for seemingly minor offenses," he says. "If there's a good explanation, we ought to know."

White, who has been active in the Marin County Bar Association for several years, including a current term as its treasurer, says he was approached by several individuals to become a candidate for election. He says the board should be representative of the membership and include attorneys from big and small cities, as well as bar junkies and those who have more limited experience with the organization.

White also belongs to the American Trials Lawyers Association, Consumer Attorneys of California and serves as a judge pro tem in Marin and San Francisco.

In addition to his practice, which includes litigation and ADR work, White is of counsel to an eight-lawyer commercial litigation practice. He and his wife have two children, and he plays in a lawyers' softball league in his spare moments.


JAMES O. HEITING thinks it would be a good idea if an attorney who misbehaves enough to warrant court-imposed sanctions is sent instead to a short ethics course, not unlike traffic school. "It's embarrassing, it's costly, it's time-consuming," he says.

Although he hasn't made much headway with his proposal in Riverside County due to a lack of enabling legislation, it's a notion he wants to pursue on a statewide level.

Elected because he ran unopposed, Heiting, a 53-year-old Riverside plaintiffs attorney, made ethics the cornerstone of his presidency of the county bar association, founding its School of Ethics and Advocacy and co-authoring "Guidelines of Professional Courtesy and Civility," a professional responsibility brochure.

As a former president of The Other Bar, the State Bar's support group for alcoholics, Heiting also is keeping an eye on the new attorney diversion program for alcohol and drug abusers. He was involved in drawing the legislation which mandates the program and hopes it will be a positive, not a negative, experience for addicted attorneys.

Heiting acknowledges what he calls "a bumpy past," which includes a 1987 conviction for driving under the influence causing injury, resulting in a five-year stayed suspension and five years of probation from the bar in 1988. It was the help of judges and other lawyers that enabled him "to regain my footing and become grounded in the ideals of service," Heiting says.

He currently sits on the executive committee of the conference of delegates and believes it's time to separate the group from the State Bar. "I think anything to give the conference more autonomy and the ability to do what they think is right and still give the State Bar the distance they need to do what they think is right benefits both bodies," he says. "I think if they live together as they have, it'll continue to be a struggle."

Married for more than 30 years, Heiting and his wife are parents of three grown sons. A sports buff, he plays softball and tennis, throws horseshoes and likes to ride his Harley.


The board of governors needs a fresh perspective and Los Angeles deputy district attorney STEVEN J. IPSEN thinks he's the man to provide it. He is not anti-bar nor does he have a negative agenda, he says, "but I do think a fresh perspective can be beneficial to any large organization. The State Bar, while its actions may be well-intended, has taken some wrong turns."

He also suggests that organizations can grow so large that they may unintentionally start to look out for themselves rather than those they are meant to represent or protect. And while cutbacks are routine in the business world, he says, government institutions "have a great resistance, even when there's a need for honest cost cutting."

Ipsen, 41, is running on a platform of reducing "bloated bar dues, the highest in the nation," and halting any bar participation in political activism or other non-essential functions. He says it's difficult to justify an annual budget of $100 million, particularly when New York, a state much like California, charges about half as much for bar dues. "I'm unable to find any state that even approaches the bar dues California lawyers pay, and that's a problem," Ipsen says.

As a career prosecutor and now president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Ipsen supports developing a system under which bar prosecutors could assist government prosecutors to properly discipline lawyers who commit criminal offenses.

"I think an association between bar and criminal prosecutors can dramatically enhance the ability to prosecute the small percentage of attorneys who criminally violate the rights of their clients," he says. "Cross-designation is a great idea."

Ipsen currently works in the Crimes Against Peace Officers section of the DA's office, and he collects old cars on the side - too many, he admits.

Longtime bar activist MATTHEW ST. GEORGE says he's been involved for so many years that it's time for him to join the board of governors. Recovered from his stint as chair of the conference of delegates in 1999, a year that group was virtually penniless, he says he is familiar with the myriad of bar issues that need to be addressed, including its responsiveness to members, governance and the future of the conference.

"I know we have a duty to protect the public but we also have a duty to serve our members and the two go hand in hand," says the 52-year-old Los Angeles deputy city attorney. He wants the bar to provide more benefits to the membership, including online legal research tools, particularly for small firm and solo practitioners who may not be able to afford them, and insurance programs tailored to all levels of membership, "at a greatly discounted rate."

As for the conference so dear to St. George's heart, he says, "We are still going to be associated with the State Bar, we are still going to be meeting. The State Bar is the only organization that can bring us together."

That said, he wants the conference "to be its own entity," able to take positions that do not violate court decisions or place the bar in political peril. "We want to protect the State Bar itself from becoming a lightning rod," he said.

St. George has worked in the city attorney's office since 1985 and is now supervisor of the police administrative law section, a new unit which provides advice and assistance to the Los Angeles Police Department's internal affairs group. He has served as president of the Los Angeles Lawyers for Human Rights and is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association's board of trustees.

He and Roy Williams, his partner of 26 years, live in Mar Vista. St. George runs marathons, likes to travel and as a one-time history major, loves reading history books.


Los Angeles family law mediator MICHELLE "MICKEY" KATZ wants to see the State Bar expand the scope of member benefits and services, shift the discipline system's focus to rehabilitative efforts and boost its technology efforts to provide more online services, including member billing and MCLE. But it is her lengthy background in mediation and collaboration where she believes she can make a difference.

Katz, 60, suspects the gubernatorial veto of the bar's dues bill and subsequent financial crisis might largely have been avoided if both sides had been able to work together effectively. "I believe if people can act collaboratively, even people of diverse interests, they can come up with solutions that meet everyone's needs," she said.

Katz' long history of bar activism includes serving on the boards of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and bar foundation, former member of the State Bar's family law section executive committee and chair of the bar's Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution. It was while serving on that committee that the dues bill was vetoed and Katz "had a visceral reaction that if we don't have a State Bar, so many services and opportunities to serve the legal profession will be missed."

Now, she says, she has "a chance to use my experience as a person who has worked in State Bar activities to educate the public and educate lawyers. And I might have some kind of input into avoiding the kinds of situations that caused that crisis."

Katz is running as a team with Matt St. George, who is seeking the office 1 seat in District 7. Both are endorsed by the Breakfast Club, a group of Los Angeles attorneys who help select candidates for the board, Women Lawyers of Los Angeles and the Mexican American Bar Association.

Katz thinks experience is a benefit, not a drawback, and "who better to serve on the bar board" than those "who've been involved and care passionately about the bar."

The single mother of a 31-year-old daughter, Katz loves the theater and the arts.

The State Bar is a staff-driven organization, controlled by insiders who rubber-stamp their recommendations irrespective of whether they will benefit the members. At least, that's what Los Angeles lawyer DAVID M. MARCUS thinks, and he'd like to see some changes. If the board's decisions are in the best interests of the members, he'll support them. "To the extent (the board) may make decisions and spend money that are not in the best interest of lawyers, I want to be there," he says.

A real property trial lawyer for 22 years, Marcus also thinks the bar "is largely irrelevant and how it works is a mystery. I'd like to make it more relevant and less of a mystery."

Although his candidacy statement says he is neither a bar junkie nor an insider, Marcus took pains in an interview to say he's also "certainly not some anti-establishment radical." His goal, he says, is to make certain the bar spends its money wisely and offers better services to its members. "The staff may need more oversight because they may make decisions which are not in the best interests of all lawyers," he says.

The bar could be truly helpful to California's lawyers by providing help when they need it, whether with professional or financial issues, substance abuse or problems with clients by offering free, confidential referrals for assistance, Marcus suggests. The ethics hotline should be expanded and copies of model retainer agreements and the rules of professional responsibility should be provided to every lawyer.

His pet peeve, Marcus says, is the long wait at security lines in courthouses, and he believes the bar should work with the courts to develop a system to streamline the ability of lawyers who pose no threat to get into the courthouse without compromising security.

Marcus, 49, is a principal with Marcus, Watanabe, Snyder and Dave, LLP, has served as a judge pro tem, and taught MCLE courses. He and his wife, Mary Strobel, who was appointed last month to the Los Angeles County bench, have two children, 11 and 8.


After 31 years in practice and lengthy service on a variety of bar boards and commissions, 58-year-old RICHARD L. DOMBROW thinks it's time to move on to the board of governors.

Following terms as chair of the Board of Legal Specialization and the Family Law Advisory Commission and "getting to that stage where I want to look to the end of my career," he said, "it seemed like the next logical step."

The State Bar is correctly focused on its survival, rebuilding and getting itself on an even keel, he said. He favors separating the conference of delegates, which he called "a political action committee" which supports positions that do not enjoy unanimity among the membership.

"They have perhaps taken positions that may not have represented the majority of the bar and it could have been done better by an independent private group rather than an arm of the State Bar," he says.

As a family law practitioner in Santa Ana, he sees abuses in his field by non-lawyers and as a once-a-month judge pro tem in bankruptcy, he sees "a really poor quality of work coming out of paralegals who are practicing. It really, really hurts the consumer."

Dombrow favors increased prosecution by district attorneys and says the bar also has a responsibility to protect the public.

As a self-employed attorney, Dombrow says he long ago learned to force himself to take time off. And he does - 16 weeks a year, much of it spent traveling with his family. He has visited 58 countries with his youngest daughter, now a college freshman. "I believe lawyers should have a quality of life," he explains, adding that he fishes, hunts and owns an airplane which he flies four times a week.

If elected, GRACE E. EMERY would be the first woman to represent Orange County on the board of governors, a  prospect the 75-year-old solo practitioner thinks is long overdue.

But her most immediate State Bar-related concern is the future of the conference of delegates, where she has served as a delegate for 15 years. "They've had a difficult relationship with the bar for several years, and I think the solution will be to sever the two, make the conference as independent as the Foundation of the State Bar but still linked in the sense that they are State Bar entities," she said.

As a self-supporting and independent body, Emery added, the conference's business "can be conducted in the free spirit it should be conducted in."

Like her opponents in District 8, Emery says a key issue in Orange County is the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers. "General practices have been affected since non-lawyers are now allowed to do certain functions," she explained.

"But there's no such thing as a simple will or a simple contract. They all need some type of legal scrutiny." 

Emery, who says a principal part of her life as a single woman is bar activities, has a long list on her resume: past president of California Women Lawyers and Orange County Women Lawyers, current member of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, active in bar association sections, a founding member of the county chapter of the Federal Bar Association and a director of the Orange County bar's Public Law Center.

She practices employment law in the city of Orange and in her spare time likes to walk, swim and read. Election to the board, Emery said, "will be a grand experience for me."

Fullerton attorney JACK P. HOLMES says he's running for the board of governors for three main reasons: to protect the public by halting the unauthorized practice of law, to provide more services for new lawyers and to develop a fair continuing education program based on a sliding scale of years of practice. "I'm at that point in my life and career where I want to get involved at the State Bar level," he says.

Holmes says non-lawyers prey on the immigrant community in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and he wants the State Bar to obtain the authority to act against them.

"Since the bar can regulate admissions, it should be able to regulate people who interfere with that licensing scheme," he says.

A former peace officer, Holmes says local law enforcement does not have the resources to fight unauthorized practice. But if the bar were authorized to act, "we're helping our own profession," he says.

Holmes, who handles business litigation, personal injury and immigration matters, also would like to see extra help such as a mentoring program for new lawyers, particularly those who strike out on their own and do not enjoy the kind of support a large firm provides. "A guiding hand is very helpful and I think a lot of people would flock to it," he says.

The bar should be cautious about separating itself from the conference of delegates, Holmes says, adding he thinks perhaps it should be improved rather than discarded. He says he has learned from his service as vice chair of the Anaheim Community Services Board that if a unit of government, such as the conference, does not belong, it should be made independent, "but save what you can."

A former security officer in the Air Force, state game warden and a school district police officer, Holmes, 41, now provides a community college scholarship to a student who aspires to a career in law enforcement or as a paralegal. He and his wife have a 24-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old granddaughter. A former karate enthusiast, he holds a second degree black belt.

RICHARD W. MILLAR JR. will be wrapping up his term as president of the Orange County Bar Association just about the time new members of the board of governors will be sworn in. It would be a convenient time for him to join that incoming group, he says, and his long experience with the local bar and the American Bar Association's House of Delegates makes him a good candidate.

"I'm pretty well up on the issues du jour and think that because of my experience, I'm certainly as qualified as anyone to serve on the board of governors," says the 63-year-old Millar.

His immediate concerns about the legal profession primarily involve the issues of multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary practices, both under consideration by the State Bar and by other bars throughout the country. He favors state control over lawyers who practice within their boundaries and opposes any erosion of that control over lawyers who could practice in multiple jurisdictions.

The notion of multidisciplinary practice, Millar says, has somewhat been derailed by the Enron/Arthur Andersen scandal, which has pointed up the conflicts of interest when professionals perform more than one service, such as accounting and consulting. Millar served on a panel which recently studied the issue of multidisciplinary practice.

A trial lawyer for more than 35 years, Millar co-founded Millar, Hodges & Bemis in Newport Beach in 1979, and specializes in business and real estate litigation. In addition to numerous Orange County Bar Association activities, he has served as a judge pro tem in Orange County Superior Court and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

He and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Irvine attorney JOEL S. MILIBAND has been involved with local or State Bar activities since entering practice in 1977 and believes that long experience makes him well-qualified to serve on the board of governors. "I've always felt it's a way to give back to the profession by being involved in the organized bar and working for lawyers, and it also is an opportunity to give back to the community," he says.

He is emphasizing access to justice issues in his campaign, as well as lawyer self-governance and the importance of professionalism, civility and solid ethics.

"On a statewide level, there's been a tension over the years between who really governs the profession, with the involvement of the legislature and the involvement of the Supreme Court, which really does set the governance of the board," Miliband says. "I support the Supreme Court on those issues."

He also believes the State Bar should assist local bars meet their obligations to provide access to justice to everyone who needs it.

A longtime participant in the conference of delegates, including a term as chair of the local delegation, he says the conference offers a wonderful opportunity to California lawyers to help shape the laws in the state. "To the extent the conference sticks to those issues and doesn't go beyond its purview, it's a benefit for all lawyers and the citizens of the state," he says. At the same time, forcing lawyers to support its positions is inappropriate, Miliband says, and voluntary contributions are the proper way to fund the conference.

Miliband, 49, handles complex civil and business litigation as well as corporate insolvency as a partner in Rus, Miliband & Smith. He was president of the Orange County Bar Association in 2000 and of the Desert Bar Association in 1988 and has chaired numerous bar committees. He also is a member of many professional organizations, including the American Bar Association, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and the Commercial Law League of California.

He has three grown children and enjoys playing golf and traveling when he has time.

These profiles were prepared by Nancy McCarthy.