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Herman elected 77th bar president

Jim Herman On a one-ballot vote, Santa Barbara attorney James E. Herman was elected last month as the 77th president of the State Bar.

A commercial civil litigator with Reicker, Pfau, Pyle, McRoy & Herman, the president-elect said he has three goals in the coming year: to restore a sense of pride in the legal profession among the state's lawyers, to ensure access to California's judicial system and to promote the State Bar's mission statement to improve the justice system.

"I am proud to be a lawyer," Herman said. "We are an honorable profession."

The bar faces some "heavy lifting" in the coming year, Herman said, including promoting a multi-year fee bill to enable the organization to engage in long-range strategic planning, working with a new Supreme Court group appointed to address an ABA report on the discipline system, exploring non-dues income, enhancing the bar's insurance program, particularly at a time when rates are soaring, and working closely with the Judicial Council and the Supreme Court on issues of access and fairness as well as helping to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

Pointing out that holding the line on bar dues is an important issue to bar members, Herman said the bar has to both manage dues better and get the word out that it is doing so. He added that he would like to see more publicity about the good the bar does, including the admissions and discipline systems, "the best-kept regulatory secret in the state."

Elected to the board of governors in 1999 after serving as president of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, Herman chaired the budget and planning committee this year, devoting much of his time to developing a new strategic plan to guide the bar in addressing the issues it faces in coming years.

Among those, he said, are providing better services to an aging membership that is "earning less and working harder, predominantly composed of solo practitioners and small firms unconnected with and unchallenged by the organized bar."

Herman also has been a liaison with a variety of groups, including the bar's sections, California Women Lawyers and the California Judges Association. Herman, who is married to Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille, will take office Oct. 12 at the Annual Meeting

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