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Kral defeats Barnett for District 3 seat

Redwood City sole practitioner and bar activist Vivian Kral was elected to the open District 3 seat on the State Bar Board of Governors last month, defeating longtime bar critic Stephen Barnett and two other candidates.

Vivian Kral

Kral, 48, also recently began a one-year term as chair of the newly constituted Con-ference of Dele-gates of California Bar Associations, which replaced the Conference of Delegates. She said she will keep both posts.

Of the 20,253 ballots sent to practitioners in District 3 (made up of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties), only 17 percent voted. A total of 3,587 votes were counted. Kral received 1,882 votes, Barnett, 1,101, Michael Schmier, 330 and Michael Lynn Gabriel, 260.

Kral represented the virtual antithesis of Barnett, who ran as an outsider with the support of gadfly board member Matt Cavanaugh of Los Angeles. She has an extensive history of bar-related activities, won the endorsement of the four county bar associations in the district, is a past president of California Women Lawyers and formerly served as a judge pro tem on the State Bar Court.

Her bar activities, however, do not mean she endorses "business as usual" at the bar, Kral said, adding that she will scrutinize the budget to make sure dues are not too high, and she will keep an eye on the discipline system, capitalizing on her experience as a judge.

"I am delighted and honored to be elected to the bar board," Kral said, "and I give a lot of credit to my supporters in the bar associations of District 3."

Kral said she campaigned actively for the post, personally sending out 4,500 pieces of first class mail and making numerous appearances before various bar groups. Her efforts were augmented by mailings by the San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa county bars and an e-mail campaign by the Santa Clara bar.

She also said she had the support of the minority bar groups in the district who "felt I could better represent their interests and I think I can." She said a supposed "insider v. outsider" campaign never materialized and "was not significant to anything I did."

Kral is a civil litigator and now practices family law and alternative dispute resolution. Barnett, a Boalt Hall professor who has sued the bar and threatened another suit over its board election practices, said he ran because it was time to "put my money where my mouth is." He said he wanted to improve the bar, not bash it, but if it could not resolve what he sees as an inherent conflict between its regulatory and trade association roles, he favored dismantling the organization.

The other two defeated candidates, Michael Schmier of Emeryville and Michael Lynn Gabriel of San Mateo, each had run for the board previously.

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