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VIC: What is it and why care?

Judy Copeland
Copeland
By Judy Copeland

When the Board of Governors re-structured last year (a long, painstaking but necessary process that you probably don't want to hear about), it created five permanent committees of the board. VIC is the board committee on volunteer involvement. It flowed from the old appointments committee but looks far beyond just making appointments.

VIC still handles all the board of governors appointments. The range of appointments is wide: Judicial Council, delegates to the ABA House of Delegates, JNE, all committee and section executive committee memberships, State Bar Foundation board and many more. The committee focuses on making high quality appointments consistent with State Bar guidelines.

The guidelines direct that all State Bar committees and sections reflect the diversity of the attorneys in the state, to the extent possible. For attorney members, we look for diversity in areas of practice, time in practice, size of firm, geography and accomplishments of note, among other factors. For public members, we look to time in their occupation, geography and accomplishments of note.

For all members we also strive to achieve diversity in gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other factors of minority status including religious creed, and physical or mental disability. The richer the experiences of committee members, the richer the committee.

But this newly formed committee also will focus on how to make volunteering with the State Bar easier and more rewarding. The State Bar has 15 standing committees, 17 section executive committees and 16 special boards, committees and commissions. A full list of these entities is included on page 20 of the Bar Journal and is also on our web site (www.calbar.ca.gov).

The membership on all these entities is limited in number. The applications are available online and should be completed with some care and thought. Most entities have more applicants than spaces, but every committee can benefit from new members with the ideas and innovations that new members can bring. So, you are needed!

The applications are available at our web site and each district governor has some applications. The deadline for submitting them is Jan. 31.

Why should you? You will get far more from your involvement than you can imagine. There is much to learn from your interaction with other lawyers and public members from around the state. You will make invaluable contacts in other counties that can be beneficial to your practice. I still get referrals and questions from attorneys I worked with on the JNE Commission years ago. And I have called them with questions and referrals. 

But wait, there's more. In addition to contacts and friendships, you will value being part of a group working toward a common goal, especially at a statewide level. The manner in which other counties do business, the politics across the state and the process of promoting change or participating in regulation of the practice are all fascinating. State bar entities deal with a remarkable variety of issues.

Consider the issues addressed by the Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution versus the issues being handled by the Committee of Bar Examiners. There are committees addressing the challenges of attorneys with disabilities, ethnic minority attorneys, women attorneys, senior attorneys and gay attorneys.

Two committees deal with insurance questions, several with practice in the appellate and federal courts, and one with the administration of justice. And that's just the committee opportunities.

There are eight advisory law commissions for legal specialization, a commission that determines the disbursement of the Legal Services Trust Fund, one that oversees the Client Security Fund, plus a CEB governing committee and the California Commission on Access to Justice. 

But wait, there's still more. Service on a State Bar committee looks good on your resume. Plus, if you participate in a local bar association, your connections with the State Bar may be useful. 

And last but not least, if you have to travel, the bar will reimburse some reasonable portion of your travel costs (the State Bar is a bit tight-fisted, if you want my opinion) and you can keep the little ketchup bottles, shampoo and conditioners.

So, it really is irresistible. Now what do you do? Go to www.calbar.ca.gov, review the list of opportunities, pick one you are interested in, download the application, fill it out and mail it in. If you are not appointed, despair not. Try again next year. Not being selected is not personal — as noted above, we try to keep the committees well-balanced by many different criteria.

And thanks for reading this.

Judy Copeland is a vice president of the State Bar Board of Governors and chair of the Volunteer Involvement Committee.

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