When recent State Bar Board of Governors member
Erica Yew was appointed to the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench
this fall, she joined a notable number of former governors who have
become judges over the years.
Roughly 14 percent of the attorneys elected or
appointed to the State Bar's board since 1971 have wound up as
judges, according to State Bar records.
Board service appears to carry some weight in
state court appointments. Close observers also point out that State
Bar board members tend to have a history of service to the profession
and community and other key qualities - all of which may help
explain the number of judges among them.
"The fact that someone has served on the board
of governors is impressive," said Burt Pines, judicial appointments
secretary for Gov. Gray Davis.
Pines characterizes such service as "a
positive" for those seeking appointment. "I can't put a
numerical rating on it," he said. "It's part of an overall
picture. It's part of the equation. It's certainly a plus."
Such experience indicates significant involvement
in bar activities, Pines noted. "You don't get elected to the
board unless you have a history of service," he said. "In
addition, service on the board is a reflection that someone is
well-regarded by his or her peers."
However, he said, "there are many things that
are considered." The attorney's integrity, experience, background,
temperament, reputation, general philosophy and work ethic, as well as
service to the profession and community, all come under scrutiny.
Take newly appointed Superior Court Judge Yew,
for example. Yew's State Bar board service was "certainly
something we considered," Pines said. "It's part of the whole