[1997 ELECTION] District 7

Bradford E. Henschel, 52, lists his address as Los Angeles Airport and one of his hobbies as "attending exciting MCLE courses." The candidate for a Los Angeles seat on the board of governors also faces likely suspension from practice when the Supreme Court acts on a discipline recommendation made by the State Bar Court in March.

Although Henschel could not be reached, he admitted in February that he committed numerous acts of misconduct, including failing to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients, return client files upon request, return unearned fees, or pay court-ordered sanctions, and filing frivolous objections to an order prepared by opposing counsel.

The expected suspension will last four months and until he makes restitution of more than $7,000, plus interest, to four individuals. The bar court also recommended a three-year probation.

Under the Business & Professions Code and bar rules, Henschel can be a candidate for the board because he was active at the time he submitted a petition for office. If the Supreme Court acts to suspend him before the ballots are counted, he will be disqualified.

According to biographical information he submitted to the bar, Henschel got his law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of law, is a former member of four local bar associations, and his grandmother was a first cousin of General Omar Bradley.

For the third consecutive year, Ronald R. Silverton is seeking a seat representing Los Angeles on the board of governors. If elected, Silverton, 66, would be the first disbarred-and-reinstated attorney to serve on the board.

His platform calls for the elimination of both the bar's discipline system and its MCLE program, which he characterizes as "an insult."

A personal injury attorney who said he takes "everything that's contingency," Silverton employs a half dozen contract attorneys and a staff of 20 in his Beverly Boulevard building in Los Angeles.

"My reputation is to spend $10,000 to win a penny," he boasts.

Silverton was disbarred in 1975 after convictions for perjury, subornation of perjury, conspiring to violate the insurance code, and soliciting to commit a felony. He served nine months in prison and his first conviction was reversed on appeal.

According to a profile in the 1980 book, "The Baby Brokers: The Marketing of White Babies in America," Silverton began an adoption service in 1972, while he was suspended and facing disbarment. The agency told pregnant women from Europe that they would receive free medical services in exchange for housework at a Caribbean hotel potential parents could visit. Silverton was convicted of felony conspiracy to violate adoption laws (later reduced to a misdemeanor).

He was readmitted to the bar on his fourth try in 1992. He spent the intervening years managing a law firm.

The bar charged Silverton in April with five counts of misconduct as a result of his handling of two personal injury cases. In both, his clients agreed that if Silverton could negotiate a reduction of any medical lien, he would keep the difference as an additional fee.

The charges indicate that negotiating a reduced lien is standard procedure and that the client is ordinarily entitled to any funds resulting from a lower bill.

Silverton said the bar filed the charges a week after he announced his candidacy and said he will seek dismissal of the charges soon.

The bar is devoted to harassing attorneys through its discipline system, he says. Silverton calls dues a "peanut issue," adding, "Attorneys would be happy to pay four times the dues they pay to stop the harassment by the State Bar. Harassment is the reason dues are so high."

Any attorney accused of wrongdoing, whether civil, criminal or ethical, should have the same rights afforded all citizens by the justice system, Silverton believes. The bar's discipline budget could be better spent to improve an overburdened and underfunded legal system, he says.

Clara Slifkin wants to give a voice to the state's government attorneys and to the 50,000 lawyers who belong to the State Bar's 17 sections. If elected to the board of governors, she will be the first public lawyer to represent Los Angeles on the board.

Slifkin, 48, wants the bar to be more responsive to its members, the public, the judiciary and the legislature, and she would like its help in enhancing the legal profession.

In Los Angeles alone, Slifkin says, there are thousands of government lawyers working for the city, state and federal governments. Communication between the bar and those attorneys is critical, she says, particularly about issues such as MCLE, ethics and conflicts of interest.

Slifkin is an deputy attorney general in the land law section, where she represents agencies such as the Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission.

Slifkin believes bar dues can be reduced further, particularly by cutting some of the discipline system's budget. "Maybe with more lawyer education and public education, we can cut back on the number of phone calls the system gets each year through a better understanding between lawyers and the public," she suggests.

She also thinks the discipline system should be more efficient and "user-friendly" for both attorneys and consumers. If an attorney is investigated and exonerated, his or her file should be cleared, Slifkin says.

In addition, she thinks the discipline staff which handles consumer complaints "would benefit from getting some training in terms of different kinds of practices. Some things (lawyers do) make a lot of sense" in the context of their practice.

"I think the bar should be more effective in educating and disciplining its attorneys," Slifkin added. "That's for the benefit of the public, the judiciary and our profession as a whole."

Slifkin has a long list of bar and community activities on her resume and has several key endorsements, including the Breakfast Club and Women Lawyers of Los Angeles.

She and her husband Peter Kaplan, a sole practitioner in west Los Angeles, are the parents of a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.