California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - APRIL 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - April 1999
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News
Legal specialist exam set Aug. 19
Sullivan to take reins at Stanford Law School
Only two appointed members remaining on State Bar board
Legal services board has five vacancies
Davis taps Michael Kahn
State Bar honors Justice Mosk with Witkin Medal
Board tentatively approves budget based on dues of $384
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Opinion
If it distracts, so be it
Let's cut back on jury service
Limit bar to admissions and discipline
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From the President - Door to justice must be open
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Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Preparing for a successful mediation
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Appointments - Apply to serve on a bar committee
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Legal Tech - DSL speeds up Internet - at a reasonable price
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New Products & Services
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MCLE Self-Study
Taxes and long-term care
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Trials Digest
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Fiduciary duties basis for all rules
Attorney nabbed at State Bar offices for soliciting murders
Attorney Discipline
Ethics for the 21st Century - A canon for the future
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Public Comment

OPINION

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Limit bar to admissions and discipline
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By DARRELL GLAHN
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President Raymond C. Marshall's letter accompanying the 1999 fee information does not comfort me concerning the attitude and thus the direction and efforts of the State Bar administration. The letter does not recognize, let alone address, the fundamental reason for the bar's present problems: its social and political activities.

While these perhaps may be subsumed under "entire bar programs" eliminated, the example he cited, the Ethics Hotline, appears to evidence the effort of the State Bar to make it appear that the issue is funding for discipline and related matters, not the bar's political and social agenda, which is the real target of the ire of the general membership.

Darrell GlahnIt would be much more satisfactory to me and, I think, to other members of the "silent majority," were Mr. Marshall to pledge unequivocally to restrict the activities of the mandatory bar to admissions and discipline, including perhaps the related subject of continuing competency. As I read Mr. Marshall's letter, however, if a dues bill is enacted, the State Bar will go back to business as usual. This impression is strengthened by his message in the December California Bar Journal: "All parts of the State Bar family . . . must remain part of the family." On the contrary, complete separation is required.

The administration of the State Bar falls by default into the hands of activists precisely because the silent majority who want the bar to restrict its activities to admissions and discipline are silent and are not active and see it as unreasonable to be required to become "active" themselves simply to prevent the hijacking of their bar dues. As a consequence, with no one without an ax to grind running for office, the board of governors tends to be composed of those who have an agenda.

Even when it became apparent from the small percentage of members voluntarily paying dues that a majority of California lawyers want the State Bar to restrict its functions, the bar administration refused to do so, continuing to spend on its social and political programs. It then blamed the bankruptcy of the disciplinary system on the dues revolt, rather than on its refusal to give up its ideological projects.

If the bar engaged only in admissions and discipline activities, there would be a three-fold benefit:

Bar dues would be significantly lower;

Members would not have their dues money spent paying for things they do not support; and

There would be no dues revolt.

Mr. Marshall could pledge to limit the bar's function just to admissions and discipline and the bar's problems would shortly disappear.

Darrell Glahn is of counsel with Glahn & Hirschfield in Stockton.