The State Bar should devote more attention to the business of law, the image of lawyers, and support of the judiciary, says Dennis J. Stryker, a San Diego attorney who is making his second run for the District 9 seat on the board of governors.
As general counsel for an engineering firm, Stryker says he works frequently with outside attorneys and knows the importance of a good working relationship among lawyers. "We want everyone to get their respective jobs done and be able to make a living," he says.
As for attorneys' image, Stryker believes the bar should undertake a campaign to place complimentary stories in the mainstream press. In addition, board members "have a duty" to speak publicly to community groups about "law, justice and what we're doing in the state."
Stryker, 38, also thinks the bar has not supported the judiciary as forcefully as it should, particularly when individual judges are criticized.
As for the perennial issue of bar dues, he thinks they can be reduced without affecting what he calls "the stellar work" done by the discipline system.
He supports MCLE, but without the exemptions which recently were struck down by an appellate court.
Stryker received his law degree from California Western School of Law and an LLM from the University of San Diego law school.
He has been active with the San Diego County Bar Association for more than a dozen years, currently is president of the San Diego chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association, and has been involved with a variety of State Bar activities.
He likes to travel in his spare time and is involved with a local Explorer Scout group. Stryker's wife, Monica Slev, is an attorney with a San Diego firm.
With 25 years of practicing law and the chairmanship of the Conference of Delegates under his belt, Steven S. Wall believes he is well-qualified to represent the diverse interests of attorneys in San Diego and Imperial counties.
Improving attorneys' image should be an important goal of the bar, Wall says, and key to that is professionalism. "I'm very interested in seeing what we can do with that, both on the legislative front and within local bar associations," says the 50-year-old partner in Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego. "It's difficult to ask for respect from the public if lawyers don't respect each other."
Continuing education is one way to enhance lawyers' image, he says, because it enhances their training and skills. "Ultimately, it helps in the public perception of attorneys as a self-regulating industry," Wall says.
He believes there is room for a further reduction of dues. "I think we're talking about efficiency and maybe some reorganization," Wall said. While praising outgoing executive director Herb Rosenthal, Wall said he's convinced a new bar chief will "take a fresh look at things. The bar, of necessity, will be doing a lot of reorganization of itself. That should be as much of a shot in the arm for the organization as the plebiscite was."
Some bar board members have suggested the new top executive should be a business person rather than an attorney. Wall believes the top job probably should go to a lawyer, but "I wouldn't rule out anyone who's qualified. In order to relate to, understand and appreciate the broad spectrum of lawyers in the state, it would be helpful to have a lawyer professional who understands attorneys."
Wall, a graduate of Stanford who received his law degree from the University of Southern California, has been active with the State Bar for many years, including 20 years in the Conference of Delegates, current regional co-chair of the Foundation of the State Bar, and last year serving as chair of the San Diego plebiscite committee. He also is involved in a wide variety of local civic organizations, including stints as president of both the San Diego Opera Association and the San Diego Museum of Man.
Wall is married to Franne Ficara, an attorney who currently is working with a start-up company. The couple have a daughter who attends Georgetown University.
Thomas J. Warwick Jr. bases his candidacy for the District 9 seat on the board of governors on his record rather than issues. "I've been serving in various elected offices for 20 years and I enjoy giving something back to members of the bar," says the criminal defense attorney. Warwick ran for the board three years ago.
Having served as president of the local Legal Aid Society, the San Diego Trial Lawyers Association and Appellate Defenders, Federal Defenders and Defenders Inc., as well as vice president of the San Diego County Bar Association, Warwick believes he has a good sense of what those groups' members want from the State Bar.
"I like to think the bar is trying to do a good job and I hope that (those groups') input would help it be more responsive," he says.
A concern in his district has been the unauthorized practice of law by disbarred attorneys. Because the bar no longer has jurisdiction and the DA's office has been frustrated in its prosecution efforts, Warwick says, he would like to see a cooperative effort between the two groups to "bridge that gap so we can protect the public."
The discipline system should be frequently reassessed, with an eye toward quick and efficient justice, continuing education is a good idea, but without exemptions for particular groups, and mandatory malpractice insurance, if ever imposed, should be tightly controlled and affordable to all lawyers, Warwick believes.
Warwick, 50, received his law degree from the University of San Diego and is the owner of Grimes & Warwick. He coaches his 7-year-old son's soccer and baseball teams.
He has received outstanding trial lawyer awards three times from the San Diego Trial Lawyers Association.