California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - October 1999
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Johnson confirmed for second term as bar's top prosecutor
Courts serve up mixed rulings on State Bar
Ethics association elects Karpman president
Six new governors join bar board
New group targets health care fraud
Public law section creates online library of public law links
JoAnne Spears honored
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Trials Digest
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Slaying an imaginary dragon
The perfect ending: Results
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From the President - This bar year ends on a high note
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Letters to the Editor
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Public Comment
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Legal Tech - Tips for network administrators
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New Products & Services
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1999 Honors
State Bar cites pro bono service
Young lawyers salute San Diego sole practitioner for outstanding service
State Bar hails 'lawyer's lawyer'
Aided by attorney, parolee cited, hired
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MCLE Self-Study
The Rigors of Fee Agreements
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics Byte - Before you sue for fees, think again
Woman who impersonated husband ordered reinstated
Attorney Discipline


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This bar year ends on a high note
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President, State Bar of California
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Ray MarshallOne 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.

As 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 such activities.

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 continued viability.

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 profession.

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 times.

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 Bar.