California Bar Journal
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Rock the boat for the bar's sake
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After reading in the December California Bar Journal that the Supreme Court was weighing the fate of discipline and that the "election results give bar backers new hope," I find myself hoping that the bar backers will wake up and realize that the majority of California lawyers do not support the former State Bar and that unless changes are made, this problem will only further disserve California lawyers as well as the general public.

David D. MurrayAs of now, after reading these articles, I am not convinced that any real change will take place.

I hope Ray Marshall, the newly elected State Bar president, will be successful in meeting the challenges ahead, with an ear turned toward the membership. If the funding measures and/or restoration merely reinstate the former status quo, I and many other lawyers will be even further discontent with a profession in which, according to a survey conducted long before Pete Wilson made his bold and controversial move, 75 percent of California lawyers are dissatisfied.

Besides the obvious - cutting out future $900,000 lobbyist fees - I hope Marshall will shun the traditional approach of taxing the general membership and get creative concerning funding the discipline system.

Why not consider making the discipline system self-supporting? Why not require a modest "user fee" to clients who file complaints and then charge a "user fee" and tax members a healthy sum after they are disciplined to pay the costs of this monstrous bureaucracy?

Why should I, and the thousands of other California lawyers who have been practicing for years without a disciplinary incident, have to pay for the sins of certain of our unscrupulous colleagues?

Another idea: Why not allow the California Bar Journal to poll members on issues and suggestions relating to the current dilemmas faced by the State Bar? To keep costs down, perhaps a few of the larger firms and other State Bar "politicians" who, through their money and power have traditionally controlled the bar, could collectively volunteer a few hours of summer law clerk time to tabulate the survey results and report back to the membership.

As for "party lines" in the debate over the State Bar, I do not care about Democratic/Republican issues. I care about an efficient State Bar that represents the membership, protects its members by vigorously opposing the unauthorized practice of law by paralegals, stays out of politics, controls the standards of admission to the practice of law, and provides a self-supporting, efficient disciplinary system which will have the respect of both the general public and California lawyers.

Mr. Marshall has a tremendous task ahead of him, and I hope he has the courage to rock the political boat and take a new approach to solving old problems.

As Abraham Lincoln once wisely said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Given the past performance of the State Bar leadership, I hope the State Bar hierarchy will henceforth be unable to fool any California lawyer at any time.

David D. Murray is an attorney from Newport Beach.