|Let me make one thing perfectly clear: The State Bar's conference of
delegates is alive and kicking. Despite the virtual shutdown of the bar since June 26, and
legislative efforts to sever the relationship between the conference and the bar, the
annual work of putting on a conference of delegates has continued. The conference met last
October, as it has for the past 64 years, considered more than 100 resolutions, and
resolved to continue its work as an integral part of the efforts of California lawyers to
improve the administration of justice.
Resolutions have arrived seeking to amend, repeal
or enact statutes in every conceivable area of the practice of law. We have just completed
the nominations cycle of selecting attorneys from throughout the state to serve on our
As is the case with the 17-member executive committee and other committees of the
conference, these individuals serve without remuneration for the hours they will spend
researching, writing and debating the merits of resolutions they will be assigned for
At the same time, we are not blind to the political turmoil that shuttered the State
Bar, which some attribute to actions taken by the conference in past years which were
purportedly contrary to the will of our profession. A widespread belief persists that
mandatory dues somehow have been spent by the bar to support "political" action.
Critics somehow believe that disagreement with the messenger is best accomplished by
killing the messenger, even though the per-lawyer cost of operating the conference is
trivial and the conference is largely funded by the delegates themselves.
The conference clearly must take steps to convince the skeptics that their money will
not be spent to pay for a microphone at which views they do not endorse are expressed,
and, more importantly, that their money will not be spent to lobby passage of resolutions
they do not endorse. Therefore, the conference executive committee proposed, and the bar
board of governors approved, a proposal to raise funds through voluntary, tax-deductible
contributions to the Foundation of the State Bar of California. Donors may designate
contributions to support the work of the conference as the educational arm of the State
application of Keller guidelines, funds donated to the foundation may be used to support
the dissemination, debate and ratification of resolutions similar to the vast majority of
resolutions historically submitted. Reso-lutions found to be outside of purview will be
handled in a separate manner. No foundation funds would be used to lobby any ratified
resolution with the legislature.
In addition, depending upon legislative action and the continued observance of Keller
restrictions, strict limits will remain in place on the use of mandatory State Bar funds
to lobby any resolutions ratified by the conference. No mandatory dues would be used to
lobby any resolution found to be outside purview but ratified by the conference.
With this action, those of us who support the historic mission of our profession have
undertaken to address the objections we have heard about the alleged "misuse" of
mandatory dues. I call upon every attorney to join in supporting an independent,
self-funded conference of delegates through contributions to the Found-ation of the State
Bar. Over the next few months, you will be notified about the means by which you can send
money to reflect your support.
Regardless of your political beliefs, you are welcome on the floor of the conference of
delegates. Any delegation, and any 10 attorneys, may submit for our consideration any
resolutions you wish to have debated in October. The sooner the better. For more
information, contact us at 310/937-1126 or visit our website at http://home.earthlink.net/~lgsplace/
If you ever have said you wish you could change the law, here is your opportunity.
Matt St. George is chair of the executive
committee of the conference of delegates.