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Membership support for voluntary bar is obvious

Are we not experiencing, at this time, the feelings of the vast majority of the members of this state's bar association? If the majority was in agreement with the past structure, priorities and administration of the State Bar, then it would not be experiencing this shortfall, requiring restructuring and layoffs.

A reasonable conclusion is that the bar membership strongly disagrees with the past and enthusiastically supports a future voluntary bar.

Loy H. Watkins
Forest Ranch

California should look east for bar model

I am admitted in New York and in California, although I am currently inactive in California. I was one of the minority that voted for the elimination of the State Bar (where I was practicing at the time).

I still think that total elimination of the State Bar is the way to go -- perhaps because I have had experience with an alternative.

In New York, there is no mandatory bar. Admissions and discipline are handled by the courts; although New York is hardly famous for governmental efficiency, discipline is much more expeditious than in California.

The New York Office of Court Administration maintains the list of attorneys and collects the bi-annual $300 registration fee, which goes into the client security fund.

The public interests are represented by public agencies, funded by tax dollars. I do not have to belong to any organization that ostensibly represents me but which I see in fact as at best indifferent to my interests.

Instead, local and statewide organizations thrive; these organizations truly represent their own members and work constructively for the improvement of the courts and legal system.

Sara Piovia
White Plains, N.Y.

State Bar should stick to core functions

I would support either the Morrow bill or the Kopp bill restructuring the bar.

The point of both is simple: The core functions of the bar are the only ones that the bar should be involved in.

But the bar has immersed itself in a wide range of non-core matters that should be dealt with by a voluntary bar. The bar should not be a compulsory charity. The bar should not be permitted to conscript the state's lawyers to fund non-core matters.

As to which bill to support, I tend to agree with Morrow's approach -- but only if he sticks to his guns. IOLTA must go. As too must the bulk of the other non-core activities.

If Morrow cannot make his approach stick, then send in the Kopp bill to eliminate the entire mess.

Jeff Thompson

Discipline mitigation is an affront to the profession

Reading the discipline report each month in the Bar Journal, it is incredible that most of those lawyers are not disbarred for the multiple acts and/or omissions committed.

And those reported acts do not include the often numerous charges which have been dismissed.

My purpose in writing is this: I am offended by the use of the sentence, "In mitigation, [the attorney who has been convicted of lying, cheating and/or stealing] had no prior record of discipline since . . . admission to the State Bar."

Why should honoring the oath of admission until one's hand gets caught in the cookie jar be considered a "mitigating factor?" Isn't the absence of disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer the minimum standard to be required?

For all the thousands of California lawyers who have never been disciplined, I object to the use of that phrase following a report of defalcation of client funds, failure to perform and refusal to refund unearned fees, to name just a few misdeeds.

Paula Gavin
Studio City

Let the marketplace wee out errant lawyers

I don't care if the State Bar stops taking complaints from the public about "routine attorney misdeeds such as not communicating with clients, failure to pay medical liens or a fee dispute over partially completed work . . ."

If my doctor, architect, accountant or plumber stops communicating with me, I fire them and don't pay their bill. If they cause me damages, I sue them. If they steal my money, I seek the assistance of law enforcement.

Ultimately, as a service provider in the community with a bad reputation, the free marketplace will cause that person to either shape up or find another line of work.

Why should we be subject to a different standard than the rest of the world, particularly since over the years, the State Bar has proven itself to be abusive and selective in its prosecutions and investigations?

God bless Pete Wilson.

Cary W. Goldstein
Beverly Hills

No envy for president's job

So now the State Bar reaps the harvest of arrogance it has shown its members for all these years.

I have looked in vain in the last two issues of the Bar Journal for any mention of what percentage of California attorneys paid more than the required $77 in dues by the Feb. 1 deadline. It must be pretty bad if you could not bring yourselves to report it. There is a real referendum of attorneys about their opinions of the bar, not that ambiguous plebiscite.

I have to express my sympathy to Marc Adelman. No other bar president has ever had to deal with such a threat to the very existence of the bar as the one he has inherited.

He seems like a nice enough person, and it's unfortunate that everything that has been building up should have to land on him. Nevertheless, it was inevitable. But what is a crisis can also be an opportunity.

He has the chance that other presidents didn't take to correct the things about the bar that have so alienated us.

Start with the attitude. Start with MCLE. Mr. Adelman says that he has listened to the members. We will know for sure that that's true when we hear that the bar has withdrawn its appeal of the court decision striking down MCLE.

Mark Leinwand
Agoura Hills

In the March issue, the Bar Journal reported that about 23 percent of the state's active attorneys had voluntarily paid more than the mandated $77.

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