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11 vie for five vacancies on State Bar board

In one district, a freshman attorney is running against a veteran with 30 years of experience. A lawyer with a discipline record faces a former State Bar Court judge in Los Angeles. One lawyer, facing no opposition, was deemed elected.

Several of the 11 candidates for the State Bar Board of Governors have hopped on the civility bandwagon, following the lead of President Sheldon Sloan, who made lawyer politesse a cornerstone of his year as bar leader. Others cite diversity in the profession as an important concern.

The candidates are vying for five open seats on the board, two in Los Angeles and the others in three northern California bar districts. Ballots were mailed May 1 to eligible voters and must be returned by July 2. Seats are open in the following districts:

  • DISTRICT 2: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Tuolumne and Yolo counties;
  • DISTRICT 3: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties;
  • DISTRICT 4: Marin and San Francisco counties; and
  • DISTRICT 7: Los Angeles County (two seats).

The winners will serve three-year terms and assume their offices at the conclusion of the 2007 Annual Meeting. Five seats also are open on the board of directors of the California Young Lawyers Association.

The candidates are:

DISTRICT 2

Paul Kramer
Kramer

PAUL A. KRAMER, a hearing adviser with the California Energy Commission in Sacramento, says that if elected, he will work for a “more transparent bar that focuses on its core missions — discipline, admissions and education and other member benefits” — as well as emphasize the needs of small firm and solo practitioners.

Kramer, 50, said his long involvement with the sections have given him first-hand knowledge of the bar works and “how it could work better.”

As a career government lawyer, he believes the bar, which is not subject to the Public Records Act, should be governed by “proactive representatives who ask tough questions.”

THERESA MARIE LA VOIE
La Voie

As the current president of Women Lawyers of Sacramento and a board member of the Sacramento County Bar Association, THERESA MARIE LA VOIE says she has a proven commitment to the legal profession. She supports the bar’s diversity pipeline project and the current effort to develop civility guidelines and pledges to devote “substantial energies” to both programs.

“I will further concentrate on making the justice system more accessible to the elderly, poor and disabled by increasing support for pro bono work,” La Voie said.

A partner in Ellis, Coleman, Piorier, La Voie & Steinheimer in Sacramento, La Voie, 60, focuses on legal malpractice defense, real estate law and business litigation.

DISTRICT 3

STEPHEN R. SONATY
Sonaty

A lawyer for less than three years, STEPHEN R. SONATY of Walnut Creek said his contacts with other attorneys and his management of his own law firm have given him “a keen awareness of the issues of common concern to lawyers.” The 31-year-old graduate of UCLA and UCLA Law School also is a mediator with a practice that handles both litigation and transactional matters, including real estate, taxation, estate planning, insurance, lending, land use and administrative law, family law and constitutional law.

Sonaty said he employs an open door policy that will enable him to “listen to your concerns so that he can speak effectively on your behalf.”

PATRICIA P. WHITE
White

PATRICIA P. WHITE has nearly 30 years of practice under her belt and offers a long list of endorsements of her candidacy from county and State Bar activists. A shareholder with Littler Mendelson, P.C., White, 66, also has a resume of involvement with the Santa Clara County Bar Association, where she served as president in 2003, as well as chairing or belonging to a variety of bar organizations. 

If elected, she said she will work to support the State Bar’s pipeline project by reaching out to high school and college students and the newly consolidated Council on Access and Fairness. “Increasing diversity in the bench and bar is important,” White said.

DISTRICT 4

WILLIAM N. HEBERT
Herbert

WILLIAM N. HEBERT says that as a member of the board of governors, he will tap the wide range of experience he has acquired as a government lawyer, partner in large law firms and manager of his own small firm. He also has represented defendants and plaintiffs in contingent, pro bono and paying matters, “so I understand the different perspectives we each bring to the profession.” Hebert ran unopposed and was deemed elected.

Currently of counsel to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP in San Francisco, where he represents clients in business litigation, Hebert, 46, said the State Bar should educate the public about the good work lawyers do to promote the welfare of California’s citizens. And he hopped on the civility bandwagon, saying the bar “can and should be a forum to promote civility among lawyers.”

DISTRICT 7, Office 1

JEFFREY P. LUSTMAN was disciplined by the State Bar last year and he’s not happy about it. The 55-year-old Los Angeles attorney and licensed private investigator received a public reproval for writing a letter to three appellate judges, who had ruled against him in a medical malpractice case, accusing them of dishonesty and corruption. His actions, he said, were taken after two conversations with staffers of the bar’s Ethics Hotline. As part of the reproval, Lustman was ordered to pay $1,983 in costs to the bar.

This, he says in his election statement, is “a whopping conflict of interest, where the bar can only get a bunch of money from you if they can get you on a public reproval or higher, with no public jury to protect you. . . .

“I have had enough,” Lustman says. “Have you?”

MICHAEL MARCUS
Marcus

MICHAEL MARCUS knows the discipline system from the other side: he was a State Bar Court judge for six years. Now a mediator and arbitrator with ADR Services Inc. in Los Angeles, Marcus says he would bring “broad legal experience, dedication to public service and a strong work ethic” to the board of governors, where he would focus on an ongoing project to rewrite the Rules of Professional Conduct, oversight of the discipline system and the proposed civility guidelines.

Marcus, 65, is an author, lecturer and teacher who spent 17 years as a deputy district attorney and 10 years as a partner in a law firm before joining the bar court.

JAMES H. PARK
Park

A lawyer for 10 years, JAMES H. PARK says he’s learned that collaboration with other lawyers working toward a mutually beneficial goal is an effective way to get things done and he wants to capitalize on that spirit of cooperation.

He also has two specific proposals that he would like to pursue if elected: First is the creation of district-wide client trust accounts that would be regulated by the State Bar to prevent the commingling of client and lawyer funds. Second, Park, 36, suggests creation of a sample conflict of interest letter, available on the bar’s Web site, to address a very common ethical dilemma.

A lawyer since 1997, Park’s practice has included litigation, trial and transactions related to commercial and real estate matters.

DISTRICT 7, Office 2

THOMAS DOVER
Dover

THOMAS DOVER says he’s running for the board of governors because he is “dedicated to protecting the integrity of the legal profession through earned respect.”

He is general counsel and vice president of business affairs for Playhut Inc., a City of Industry-based company that sells toys and play structures. An attorney since 1994, he has an LLM in entertainment and media law and also serves as an adjunct professor and Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Dover, 40, is the founder and president of Thomas Dover Inc., a full-service management, production and licensing firm representing celebrities in product endorsement, advertising and appearance opportunities.

REX HEINKE
Heinke

The board of governors must listen to the members of the State Bar and respond to their concerns and interests, says Los Angeles lawyer REX HEINKE. “These concerns include ensuring a fair and effective disciplinary system, protecting the judiciary from special interests and political pressure, providing access to justice for all citizens and expanding diversity in our profession,” he said.

A partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where he specializes in appellate litigation, Heinke, 56, has practiced in both large and small firms for more than 30 years. His long resume of public service includes the presidency of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and chair of Public Counsel, experiences he says make him well-suited to the board of governors.

DAROLD M. SHIRWO
Shirwo

A solo practitioner for more than 26 years, DAROLD M. SHIRWO says he will use his broad experience and business, professional and community leadership skills “to assist and benefit the members of the California legal community and the goals of the California State Bar.”

With a background in engineering and business as well as law, Shirwo, 67, was CEO of a large over-the-counter stock brokerage firm and headed other retail/wholesale businesses. He has a lengthy resume of community and legal activities, including membership in the Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Century City and Santa Monica bar associations and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and he was president of the University of West Los Angeles Alumni.

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