|Three unopposed candidates will begin three-year terms on the State Bar
Board of Governors in October, while four other candidates battle it out to represent two
other seats on the 23-member board.
Candidates from Districts Four (San Francisco and
Marin counties) and Eight (Orange County), and office two in District Seven (Los Angeles)
ran without opposition and were automatically elected.
The seats in District 6 (Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and
Ventura counties) and office one in District 7 (Los Angeles) are contested.
Unlike recent years, when more than a dozen candidates sought office and issues ranged
from outright abolition of the mandatory State Bar to its financial accountability to the
elimination of the discipline system, this year's race is relatively quiet.
Most of the seven candidates have a history of activism within the State Bar; one is a
legal services attorney, another is a prosecutor. Only one candidate favors the
elimination of a mandatory bar. Only one woman is running.
Ballots were mailed last month to attorneys who practice in the two districts with a
contested election. The last day to vote is Sept. 3, and new board members will take their
seat at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting in Long Beach.
Scott H. McNutt began his association with the State Bar when he
joined its business law section. He served as chair of its debtor-creditor and bankruptcy
committee and now co-chairs the section.
"It was a wonderful experience for me because it allowed me to play a part in the
development of legislation which served the public well," he said.
sections were one of former Gov. Pete Wilson's targets when he vetoed the bar's dues bill
in 1997, McNutt now believes the education sections' future is bright and that the board
of governors is interested in making them effective.
The new representative of San Francisco and Marin counties on the board, McNutt, 44,
says other key issues in the coming year are the question of multidisciplinary practice
and potential changes in the discipline system which are now pending in the legislature.
Dispensing with the sizeable backlog of discipline cases is urgent, he said, describing
the task as an unglamorous job which requires energy and diligence.
"I think it's a very exciting time to be involved with the State Bar," McNutt
said. "The result of the last two years of contention is that the State Bar is
largely reinventing and rebuilding itself to be more effective and to serve the interests
of its constituents better."
An insolvency attorney with Severson & Werson in San Francisco, McNutt received his
law degree in 1982 from the University of California at Davis law school after graduating
from Yale in 1978.
He is a member of the Financial Lawyers Conference, the Bar Association of San
Francisco and the American Bar Association.
He and his wife, Lee Manus McNutt, have two children, and McNutt spends most of his
free time devoted to his family. He also assists his wife with her involvement in the
creation of a new campus to house the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Day School in
is the only candidate for the board of governors who favors abolition of the mandatory
State Bar. The former president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association
instead wants to make the bar a voluntary organization "that would actually be
working in the economic interests of its membership."
Brandt, a 37-year-old sole practitioner, says he is seeking a seat on the board because
he wants to change the way things operate. His first order of business would be to
transfer the discipline system to the Department of Consumer Affairs, although he believes
such a drastic step should first be submitted to the membership for a vote.
He also opposes the MCLE program in its present form because "it doesn't serve the
membership as well as it could." The entire program should be tailored so attorneys
could benefit better than they do now from continuing education.
As a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney, Brandt says he routinely reads
several legal journals in order to stay abreast of developments in the field. He believes
he should be able to receive MCLE credit for the hours spent in keeping current.
Brandt received his law degree from the University of Santa Clara law school. He is a
sole practitioner in Upland and belongs to the Consumer Attorneys of California and the
American Trial Lawyers and has served as president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the
Inland Empire, chair of the Inland Empire Special Olympics and president of the Upland
He and his wife Camille have two daughters and expect a third in October.
They grow grapes on a small vineyard and produce about 30-40 cases a year. A UCSB
graduate, Brandt still tries to surf once a month.
The State Bar is at a crossroads, and the coming year offers an opportunity to make
substantive changes and respond to critics, says James Herman.
"The dues crisis presented great challenges, and we should listen to the critics
and steer the bar's course with that criticism in mind," he says. "The great
challenge of rebuilding the State Bar is to bring the membership back into the fold."
A former president of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, Herman, 54, urges the
bar leadership to be cautious about "reassembling the same structure."
Although he is a strong supporter of continuing education, he says the current
mandatory component of MCLE "has to be revisted and at the very least reshaped."
The widespread opposition to mandatory continuing education among respondents to a recent
California Bar Journal survey demonstrates the need "to readdress the needs of our
membership relative to the bar," he said.
The issue of
multidisciplinary practice also is one the bar must face soon, and Herman believes the bar
"should be inside the tent rather than outside the tent. Multidicsiplinary practice
A partner in Rogers, Sheffield & Herman in Santa Barbara, Herman is a trial lawyer,
concentrating on complex business disputes and commercial litigation. A UCSB graduate, he
received his law degree from California Western Law School and was a Robert Marshall
Fellow at NYU law school, where he received his LL.M.
He is involved in a wide variety of legal and community activities, including serving
as a delegate to the Conference of Delegates, membership in the bar's litigation section,
co-hosting a local law radio program, and serving as a board member for the Santa Barbara
Herman is married to Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille.
DISTRICT 7 (Office 1)
Patrick R. Dixon has spent nearly 25 years in the Los Angeles district
attorney's office, with more than 10 years as assistant head of its major crimes division.
He also has a long list of bar activities on his resume, ranging from a stint on the
Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation to chairing the committee of bar examiners.
In his race to
represent one of the two offices in the bar's Los Angeles district, he won the endorsement
of the influential Breakfast Club, which for more than 30 years has backed successful
candidates for the board of governors.
In light of the bar's financial problems during the past two years, Dixon believes the
organization needs to return to fundamentals. "To me, to a great extent, that means
admissions and discipline," he said.
Dixon now serves as special counsel to the committee of bar examiners and believes it
is crucial to retain the integrity of the bar examination and the admissions process. He
believes the bar's discipline system was, prior to Gov. Wilson's veto, the most
professional system in the country and he wants to get it back on track quickly.
Lawyer civility also is high on Dixon's list of important issues, and he believes the
bar can encourage civility from its bully pulpit. He also supports continuing the MCLE
program, but favors the reduced number of required hours contained in legislation pending
in Sacramento as well as consideration of innovations to the program.
Dixon currently is special counsel to the Committee of Bar Examiners and last year was
named "Prosecuting Attorney of the Year" by the LA County Bar Association's
criminal justice section.
His wife, Diane, is corporate vice president of communications and worldwide
advertising for Avery-Dennison, a manufacturer of office products. They have a daughter,
Colleen, who will be a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley this fall.
Los Angeles attorney Joseph Fedorowsky views a seat on the board of
governors as "an opportunity to do some public service and share my perceptions and
expectations of the bar."
The 48-year-old Los Angeles sole practitioner believes the State Bar's main problem is
a failure to reflect the views of its members. "California attorneys are frustrated,
alienated and apathetic," he said, "and I think it's because they don't have a
collective voice through the State Bar."
To make change,
the bar should make greater efforts to determine attorneys' concerns, then mold its agenda
to meet those concerns, he said. "It seems to me pretty clear that basically
attorneys want admissions and discipline, not political and social engineering kinds of
things, to be the bar's core values."
When deciding how to proceed with its continuing education program, for example,
Federowsky thinks the bar should do what the members want. "If the membership feels
it shouldn't be mandatory, why not pursue that course?" he said. "It doesn't
mean we can't have continuing education, but we need to listen to the membership."
Federowsky represents Hispanic and African-American families in substandard housing
cases in Los Angeles County. He also has handled First Amendment litigation for nonprofit
He received his law degree from Pepperdine law school after graduating from the
University of Arizona.
His wife, Shana Carlsen, is director of a nonprofit research and development
organization which focuses on options for sustainable cities technology. The couple has
two daughters and a son.
DISTRICT 7 (Office 2)
Private practitioner Maria
Villa expects a crowded schedule in early October: She will be sworn in as a
representative of District 7 on the State Bar Board of Governors and she'll give birth to
her first child. Asked how she will juggle such big changes in her life, Villa laughed and
said she'll no longer be managing partner of her firm, a two-person partnership with her
Villa plans to focus on communication and outreach to bar members "to let them
know we'll be responsive." An accomplished business manager, the 39-year-old Villa
believes the bar would regain its members' confidence when it displays fiscal
Winning the trust of legislators is dependent on winning trust from the public, Villa
As a longtime bar activist, Villa also thinks that some of the distrust in the bar is a
misperception and that it is more responsive to attorneys than they think. The bar
leadership "has gotten the message" of the 1997 dues veto and is working to make
changes, she added.
Villa was president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, a
founding fellow of the Foundation of the State Bar of California, a delegate to the
Conference of Delegates, and is currently a member of the LA County Bar Association,
Latina Lawyers of Los Angeles, Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, and is deputy regional
president of the Hispanic National Bar Association.
She practices business litigation with her husband, Stephen Lathrop, in Los Angeles.
The couple enjoy tennis and skiing.
Robert Scott Wylie has been involved in State Bar activities for most
of his 10 years of practice, currently serving as chair of the legal services section. As
he takes the Orange County seat on the Board of Governors, Wylie says he hopes to
participate in rebuilding the bar after two years of havoc wreaked by Gov. Pete Wilson's
1997 veto of the fee bill.
Key issues, Wylie believes, are the future of continuing legal education, a concept he
generally supports, and how to restructure the bar's other programs.
Since 1993, Wylie, 35, has been executive director of the Public Law Center, a public
interest legal services office operated by the Orange County Bar Association. The agency
operates a hybrid program, coordinating the work of more than 1,400 volunteer attorneys
and representing 4,000 clients in about 1,500 matters annually.
The bulk of the practice focuses on elder law and family law, particularly domestic
heart lies with pro bono work, Wylie acknowledges that it is unlikely the staffing and
programming of the bar's legal services program will ever match pre-veto levels. However,
he noted that next year's state budget includes $10 million for legal services, and he
praised the bar's Access to Justice Commis-sion for continuing its work over the last two
years with "little or no" staff-ing or financing.
Although Wylie believes attorneys have an ethical responsibility to offer legal
services to those in need, he opposes mandatory pro bono requirements for lawyers.
"I don't think any client should ever be subjected to an attorney who does not
believe in them," he explains.
Wylie, who received both his law degree and his undergraduate degree in economics from
the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, has served on the Orange County Bar
Association's board of directors since 1996, been a member of the State Bar's legal
services section's executive committee since 1996, served on the bar's disaster assistance
task force from 1993-95, and was a delegate to the Conference of Delegates for three
He is an adjunct professor of law at Chapman University School of Law, Whittier Law
School and Western State University College of Law.
Wylie is single and describes himself as a workaholic, but in his spare moments he
loves to read and is "trying to learn about good wine."