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Three vie for State Bar presidency

By Diane Curtis
Staff Writer

Three third-year members of the State Bar Board of Governors, all committed to the twin goals of member services and protecting the public, are running for bar president. Bar vice presidents James O. Heiting of Riverside, Roderick A. McLeod of San Francisco and Joel S. Miliband of Irvine all are vying to succeed current president John Van de Kamp. The board will make the selection at its May 14 meeting in San Francisco.

James O. Heiting

Heiting, 55, has been a leader in creating bar programs aimed at offering treatment for attorneys with substance abuse and mental health problems. “I think that I offer a history of creative ideas and ways to accomplish things with cohesiveness and with a focus that I think will be helpful to the State Bar and the membership,” said Heiting, a partner in Heiting & Irwin in Riverside, whose civil practice specializes in medical malpractice and personal injury cases.

Chair of the Planning, Program Development and Budget Committee and a member of the Committee on Board Operations, Heiting is in favor of more access to the courts and diversity, as well as more court independence from the legislature and more bar independence from the courts. “If we’re simply defined as the arm of the Supreme Court for admissions and discipline, we may lose sight of member benefits, and I don’t ever want to do that,” he said.

Further, he added, “I would like to see the courts become more independent from the legislature as far as financial independence and truly be one of the three branches of the government.”

Roderick A. McLeod

McLeod, 56, co-chair of the Member Oversight Committee and a former member of the Regulation, Admissions and Discipline Oversight Committee, said he wants to make the bar “much more responsive” to the public and its members. “There are a lot of talented employees within the State Bar who I think just need to be unleashed,” said McLeod. He noted that 80 percent of bar dues are used for attorney discipline, yet 98 percent of attorneys are hard-working, conscientious lawyers who never need the discipline system.

A partner at Jones Day in San Francisco who focuses on complex commercial litigation, intellectual property and international arbitration, McLeod favors more advertising on the bar Web site as well as “our own craigslist” for hiring and job-seeking and for listing pro bono services throughout the state. “I have this vision that our State Bar can set the world standard for bar associations,” McLeod said. “In order to do that, we really need a change of outlook on our potential for providing the absolute best and most responsive and efficient services to the public and to our members.”

Joel S. Miliband

Miliband, 52, a partner in Rus, Miliband and Smith and co-chair of the bar’s Regulation, Admissions and Discipline Oversight Committee, said the success of the State Bar in its obligations to the public and its members is “built on three critical legs: the bar’s core function of regulation, admission and discipline; financial stability and stakeholder relations.” He said he has the “vision, experience and leadership to work with and challenge the board to look at existing programs in new ways, to re-examine traditional relationships and to form stronger partnerships with our stakeholders and to inspire public confidence in and member respect for our discipline system.”

Miliband, whose practice is primarily business and complex civil litigation with some corporate insolvency and transactional work, said he would like the board to take a critical look at “all of our existing programs” as well as to look at how the bar can be a partner with local bar associations and others to make sure members are reaping the most benefits. “I don’t think we partner in a way that is to our best advantage,” he said.

He suggested, instead, that the bar could form alliances with local and specialty bars to “deliver types of services of benefit to our members.”

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