|After two years of uncertainty and instability, the State Bar slowly is
beginning to reinstate programs and services with an anticipated influx of funding in
Bar officials are being careful to avoid reconstructing a bureaucracy that former
Gov. Pete Wilson characterized as bloated and arrogant, instead focusing on using member
dues cautiously and efficiently.
They do hope, however, that the discipline operation, partially resuscitated this year
with the help of a court-ordered special assessment, will be fully operational before the
end of 2000.
Also in the works are technological upgrades, including an
improved and more user-friendly website, a revived fee arbitration program, eight updated
consumer education pamphlets and programs to assist the legal services community.
The board of governors hopes to hire a new executive director as well.
"Overall, I look forward to having programs that will help us to meet our mission
of improving the system of justice for the people of California," said bar president
Andrew J. Guilford. "We will be looking at things like multidisciplinary practices,
we'll be looking at MCLE, as a commission is doing now, and we'll be reinstituting
programs that allow us to review and improve our ethical rules and other rules that help
us meet our mission."
Bar number crunchers face some uncertainties in knowing precisely how much money the
organization will receive from its members next year.
Attorneys are permitted to deduct $5 from the $395 dues if they object to any part of
the bar's lobbying efforts, and no one is offering any predictions of how much revenue
will be lost to that deduction. The board was not expected to finalize its legislative
program until this month.
In addition, the dues bill restructured income scaling, permitting
attorneys who earn less than a certain amount to pay reduced fees.
Some programs will try to generate their own in-come, but there is no way to know how
successful those efforts will be.
Finally, the board offered lawyers who paid voluntary dues during the