trepidation by many, the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey was a great success. In
addition to attending the usual, impressive array of CLE courses, seminars and luncheons,
many of those who attended tackled the broader issue of the State Bar's future.
face of dire predictions about that future, lawyers from across the state, critics and
supporters alike, committed themselves in overwhelming numbers to four basic principles:
The State Bar must change;
We will work together to make that change;
Change should take place within the context of a
mandatory unified state bar; and
The change must result in a stronger, more
efficient and responsive State Bar.
In the days following the annual meeting, I have thought a lot about what our members
were saying. Despite a very full schedule of activities, more than 70 attorneys took the
time to attend two open forums and express their views about the role of the State Bar.
Many were critical of the bar's current mission statement: "Preserve and improve
our justice system in order to assure a free and just society under law."
Others agreed with the bar's mission, but disagreed with its implementation. But, to a
person, all expressed an overriding interest in helping to reinvigorate and reorganize a
newer, better State Bar.
There was in Monterey a sense of unity about the commitment to change. As your
president, I share that commitment to change, but at the same time I repeat my personal
pledge to do everything I can to maintain a unified bar in California.
The State Bar is a family that must not be torn apart by outside forces. We must, and
will initiate the change ourselves.
Many of you have heard me talk about the need for dialogue and communication in the
months ahead. The open forums which we launched in Monterey were just the beginning.
The next step took place at the end of October when the board of governors, along with
leaders from many segments of the bar, met to create an immediate plan to begin the
change. I intend that the bar listen - as well as talk - to our members, and I have laid
out a yearlong plan to accomplish that.
We will expand the outreach to our members by creating an ongoing dialogue with
leadership teams from the sections, the Conference of Delegates, the Foundation of the
State Bar and local bar leaders. We will hold statewide forums, in the north and south,
and invite not just attorneys but also the public, opinion leaders and the judiciary.
Our year of communication will be both inward, to insure that our members are truly
heard, and outward to insure that the State Bar remains relevant to the larger community
within which we function.
Since the governor vetoed the funding bill, the State Bar has been operating in mere
survival mode, maintaining a skeletal staff to keep the doors open and supporting a
limited number of curtailed programs in a structure that was dubbed "The Ark."
The time has come to emerge from that survival mentality. Change already has begun.
Time for reorganization
The board of governors understands the need to continue that change and has begun
preparing for important reorganization. We will be a model of efficiency, not just a
trimmed-down version of what we once were. We will deconstruct The Ark and construct in
its place a newer, tighter vessel that efficiently delivers essential services to our
members and the citizens of California.
As we negotiate our way through the waters in the months ahead, as we go back to
Sacramento to obtain adequate funding, I extend an invitation to each of you to