|Taking their lessons from Washington Republicans
is somehow comforting, in a status quo sort of way, to find that the California bar has
learned nothing and we will likely have it to kick around for a little while longer yet.
Broke but unbowed, the bull-headed bar bureaucrats are taking their lessons from
Congressional Republicans and charging forward with their tired, old, unpopular and doomed
crusade. The bar elected the most pro-big bar candidate, who has ever since been
proclaiming that the time has come to move on, put behind the troubles of the past, bury
the hatchet, seek bipartisan agreement, work together, achieve broad consensus, and
restore the bar to exactly the same bloated and arrogant behemoth that it was before,
because now Gov. Davis will protect them.
But at least we discovered one fact out of the bar's self-inflicted mess: It costs $250
in annual dues to run the bar. Coincidentally, that is only a little more than what other
similar state bars charge. Let's see how long it takes our California bar to get that back
up over $400.
A question of trust
I have never underestimated the power of spin, especially in, of all places, the
California Bar Journal. Case in point, the headline of the January 1999 edition states,
"Unprecedented, unanimous ruling enables bar to begin rebuilding the discipline
system," as if the eighth wonder of the world had a new addition to it - the State
This very same unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court thought so much of the State Bar
that it wouldn't even entrust the discipline money to it, but required it to be made
payable to "Special Master's attorney discipline fund." Could it be that the
Supreme Court has about as much trust in the State Bar as the average attorney?
One does not have to go further than the same front page to see that active attorneys
may pay $145 as a voluntary membership fee, with the same graphic stating that "the
special master has determined that no credit will be given toward the Supreme Court
special discipline assessment for 1999." However, not to worry; more specious
promises follow. "If you paid voluntary fees in 1998, you may seek a credit or refund
after the legislature enacts a fee bill." In other words, the State Bar is again
telling lawyers, "Trust me."
The only thing missing from the front page was the article on page 10 in which we learn
that the State Bar, after it sold its building, is going to spend $861,852 for
construction, $303,950 for furniture, and $61,400 for computer and telecommunications
costs, all as a further memorial to its uselessness.
I guess the State Bar still doesn't get it.
Ira M. Friedman
And in the same vein . . .
Just finished reading the latest opinion from State Bar president Ray Marshall, which
should be entitled "Back to Business as Usual."
As the State Bar was complaining that it was concerned about the economic welfare of
its employees and the effect on the public of the lack of attorney disciplinary
proceedings, it was always clear that the bar's only concern was perpetuating itself
forever in the same form, and that its public stance was only political posturing.
How telling then, that in listing the State Bar's core values, Marshall does not
mention attorney discipline, attorney education, attorney ethics, attorney competence,
reasonable attorney fees, overzealous prosecutors, representation for the needy nor even
any concern about stemming the ever-increasing hoards of new, young and often inept
As long as the core values of the bar are oriented toward self-preservation rather than
service to the people and the attorneys of the state of California, the State Bar will
remain not only the most expensive but the most poorly run and least effective such
organization in the nation.