|Thanks to a cast of thousands, the performance of the State Bar of
California at the beginning of the new millennium has been inspiring. Many have strutted
and some have fretted their hour upon the State Bar stage this year, and it has signified
a great deal. Now is the time to stand and applaud the many whose work helped us reform
and strengthen our bar family as we together support our third branch of government.
Fortunately, there have been many who have helped by their words and deeds. Unfortunately,
with so many contributors, this brief column will necessarily omit many who still know who
they are and my affection for them.
Through the work of many selfless State Bar volunteers and
employees this year, much good has been done. People have been educated about our third
branch of government and the policy issues facing it. Indigents have received legal
representation that would otherwise have been lacking, and access to our profession has
been improved. Lawyers have received effective legal education and many other benefits.
Clients have been provided with the highest quality of legal services available in the
Very high on the list of those assisting the State Bar this year has
been retired Justice Elwood Lui. Serving as Special Master, Justice Lui has provided
leadership and guidance, all with a commitment to the good work that can be done by our
State Bar. We are grateful to Chief Justice Ron George and the California Supreme Court
for appointing Justice Lui as Special Master. Chief Justice George and his staff deserve
further thanks for their untiring work for the third branch of our government and the
guidance and assistance provided to the State Bar as it seeks to support our judicial
Among many good suggestions, Justice Lui has called for a multi-year
dues bill. This year, I appreciated the bipartisan support from our legislators for our
dues bill, and the State Bar will build on that bipartisan support in seeking a multi-year
bill next year.
Perhaps one of the worst things bar presidents can hear from their
executive directors during their term of office is, I resign. This is particularly difficult when working to
empower the executive director as, essentially, a full CEO. Although we had three
executive directors/CEOs (and two CFOs) in this year of transition, we are very fortunate
that all of them have made magnificent contributions. After Jeff Gersick resigned as CEO,
he was followed by Marie Moffat serving in transition, who was followed by Judy Johnson,
selected as our newest executive director/CEO.
Jeff Gersick deserves particular thanks. Despite all the trials and
tribulations confronting the bar over the last few years, Jeff continued to provide
consistent outstanding leadership. I have never heard any negative statement about Jeff
Gersick, which is particularly extraordinary given the circumstances surrounding his
One of the great pleasures of serving this year as bar president has
been the opportunity to work with Marie Moffat as general counsel and as interim executive
director. Marie is truly a fine lawyer, leader and lady.
Judy Johnson has begun her service as CEO as expected, with important
changes and exciting programs underway that will free up the board to focus on policy
issues. As my year comes to an end, I am pleased that the bar is in such good hands.
The editor of this Journal, Dean Kinley, deserves our thanks and
praise for getting the word out on our State Bar and the issues confronting us. I
particularly appreciate the kindness and support I have received from Dean as my editor. I
also thank those who have read these presidents columns, particularly the many who
have taken the time to write me with their opinions. And if you have never gotten beyond
the pictures, then the back of my head should be a welcome sight this month.
I mentioned in an earlier column that great things happen through
selfless service without expectation of power or prestige. This precisely describes the
State Bar staff members who have worked through our dark years in the hope of brighter
days. Thanks to Ann, Bill, Bryan, Bob, Dave, Diane, Francis, Jerry, Judy, Kathleen, Larry,
Mary, Nancy, Pam, Scott, Sharon and many others!
As we came out of crisis last year under the great leadership of Ray
Marshall, it was important this year to focus on our bar family, especially the sections,
the conference of delegates and the foundation. I am very grateful for the work their
leaders have done keeping our bar family together and finding great sources for
Speaking of funding, those many lawyers and firms and other
organizations who voluntarily paid bar dues and did not seek a refund deserve a very
special thanks from the State Bar, and even from the people of our state!
I especially appreciate the board of governors, and how the governors
came together this year to efficiently focus on policy with great debate and little
rancor. Working with Judy Johnson and our dedicated bar staff, great things await this
board and thus the State Bar.
Among the most difficult but important issues confronting the board
this year was diversity. Decisive decisions were made that will help us as we seek justice
in our justice system, and I thank those responsible with the hope that we all can move
As the first bar president from Orange County since Bill Wenke almost
20 years ago, I must thank all my friends from Americas Finest County who have
provided support in so many ways. This year was made possible largely through the great
help I got from my wonderful secretary, Pam Wiebel.
Saving the best for last, I thank those who are first in my life: My
dear wife Loreen, and our extraordinary daughters, Colleen and Amanda Joy. I hope you
dont mind that again I put down the words, How wonderful life is with your
joyful love and selfless support.
The end of this column has come much too quickly, just like the end
of my year as president. Would that they both could leisurely creep in a petty pace. It
seems just yesterday that I was passed the presidents baton from the very capable
As the brief candle fades and the curtain falls on this year, I pass
the baton to our next president, the very capable Palmer Madden, who has already begun
working on the great year to come.
Break a leg, Palmer!