|One year ago this month, Marc Adelman of San Diego passed the president's gavel
to me during the Annual Meeting in Monterey. In turn, I will hand over the gavel to Andy
Guilford of Costa Mesa at this year's Annual Meeting in Long Beach. In doing so, I have a
great sense of satisfaction that the State Bar has been greatly improved and that I leave
in good hands the task of guiding the nation's largest state bar into a new century.
I come to the end of my term, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is,
"Have you enjoyed the experience of being president?" The answer is yes, and let
me explain why.
As a fan of the David Letterman show, I realize the following Top Ten wouldn't make his
usual titillating list, but in sharing the highlights of my year as State Bar president I
hope you will understand why I leave feeling positive about this year and confident about
the bar's future.
1. The state Supreme Court's decision to assess lawyers $173 to keep the discipline
system afloat in 1999 was the beginning of the road back for the bar after former Gov.
Pete Wilson's veto of the 1998 annual fee bill. The court recognized that public
protection was jeopardized by the near shutdown of the discipline system and re-emphasized
the principles of separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the vital
role played by the State Bar in maintaining confidence in the legislative system.
2. Responding to our members, the year 2000 fee bill lowers dues from $458 to $395 a
year. It also financially accommodates all attorneys by instituting a fee schedule
reflecting reduced dues for low income lawyers.
3. With our new fee bill, the Conference of Delegates and the practice sections will
become self-funded, and we have set up a coherent and rational scheme for the use of
mandatory dues and voluntary contributions.
4. Since the new fee bill also places certain restrictions on our lobbying, we are
working on a policy to address the concerns of many of our members and define the scope of
5. With the Supreme Court's special assessment order in late 1998, we were able to
bring back more than 200 of the 500 employees laid off in June 1998. The discipline system
is up to 65 percent of its 1997 staff levels, and employees are in the midst of addressing
the backlog of more than 7,000 consumer complaints that occurred following the layoffs.
6. In the face of vociferous opposition and attempts to create a voluntary bar
regulated by an unknown state agency, we were able to maintain a strong unified State Bar
with all its constituent parts.
7. The creation of the MCLE commission will pick up where the Warden v. State Bar
decision and the fee bill left off and allow the bar to further address criticisms of the
minimum continuing education program and do an in-depth study of its fairness and
8. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave more credence to the principle of a
unified bar when it ruled in our favor in Morrow v. State Bar. The decision was an
important reaffirmation of the viability of a unified bar and a great decision for the
9. This past year we have come a long way in restoring the faith and confidence of our
members, legislators, the courts and the public by laying down a foundation for a State
Bar that will be more open, efficient and responsive.
10. Working with the dedicated and under-appreciated staff of the State Bar has been
most satisfying for me. It was a pleasure to work with staff and members of the board of
governors who have devoted countless hours to guiding our organization through some trying
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as president this year. I have met some
terrific people, developed many friendships and re-established relations with many
colleagues across the state. I have many people to thank for this opportunity to serve the
lawyers of California, but I especially would like to acknowledge my partners at McCutchen
Doyle Brown & Enersen for all their support.
And last, on a personal note, my wife Piper and son Kyle deserve more than thanks for
their patience and understanding during this very busy and important year for the State