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Miller wins presidency by acclamation

Howard B. Miller

Los Angeles attorney Howard B. Miller was elected the 85th president of the State Bar of California last month in the first election since 1988 in which there was only one candidate for the bar’s top job. Miller will take office in September, succeeding another southland lawyer, Holly Fujie.

“I’m very grateful, I think,” he joked immediately after the unanimous vote. Four other third-year governors eligible for the presidency opted not to run.

Miller, 72, said he will focus on both member services and public protection in the coming year, and will particularly try to “make sure every dollar is spent in the most efficient way.”

Referring to the recent alleged embezzlement of $675,000 by a longtime bar employee, Miller said the theft “has shaken the board of governors to its core and made us realize how important it is to have proper control mechanisms and how important it is to deal efficiently with every single dollar.”

He also said the bar must place increased emphasis on legal services, particularly in tough economic times, and he stressed the importance of assuring fairness in the bar’s discipline operations.

A partner with Girardi & Keese, a 25-attorney firm, Miller practices principally in federal court and specializes in patent and other intellectual property litigation, antitrust and general complex commercial litigation cases. His patent cases have included results in technologies ranging from cancer radiation therapy to GPS location technology for cell phones.

He was elected in 2006 to represent Los Angeles on the board of governors and has served on the discipline, planning and member oversight committees.

A graduate of Pepperdine University, he received his law degree in 1960 from the University of Chicago, where he served as editor-in-chief of the law review and was elected to Order of the Coif. He clerked for the late Justice Roger J. Traynor of the California Supreme Court.

He was a professor at USC’s law school from 1965 until 1977, teaching contracts, real property and civil procedure. He was president of the Los Angeles school board from 1977-79 and 20 years later returned to the district as its chief operating officer. “Once you’ve dealt with the politics of education, nothing at the State Bar can compare,” he laughed.

In addition to bar activities, Miller co-hosts a weekly radio show, Champions of Justice, in southern California and was executive editor of the Los Angeles Daily Journal from 1979-81. He also appeared on “The Advocates,” a weekly PBS television show that aired from 1969-73 and put public issues on trial with unrehearsed cross-examination of leading public figures.

Born in New Jersey, Miller moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 8. He and his wife, Shirley, have been married for 51 years and are the parents of three sons and the grandparents of seven.

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