When Orange County attorney Scott Wylie first
joined a State Bar disaster assistance committee years ago, he was
simply looking for a way to help victims of the Loma Prieta
earthquake. But the experience was so worthwhile, he says, that he has
been volunteering service to one State Bar committee or another ever
Today, a decade later, he serves on the State Bar
Board of Governors. And he is quick to offer reasons why fellow
attorneys - solo practitioners and corporate lawyers alike -
should consider applying to a State Bar committee, commission or
"It provides an opportunity to improve the
justice system and make public policy changes that benefit both
attorneys and the public," said Wylie, the director of clinical and
externship programs at Whittier Law School. "It's a great
opportunity to network, to meet with members of the bench and the
legislature. It's a great way to obtain mentoring and expand your
knowledge in practice areas."
And for Wylie, one reason stands out: "It is
part of every attorney's obligation to help better the
Currently, the State Bar is seeking applicants
for some 200 positions on more than three dozen State Bar committees,
commissions and boards. Would-be volunteers have a wide range of
options, from committees dealing with access and fairness issues, to
executive committees focused on particular areas of the law, to a
commission that evaluates judicial nominees for the governor. Some
committees require special qualifications. For most, the application
deadline is Feb. 1.
Those appointed to the 2002-03 positions by the
board of governors will begin their terms in October. Most carry a
Wylie, who chairs the board's appointments
committee, stresses that the board is seeking a diverse mix of
attorneys and public members from various backgrounds and fields of
Applicants must be willing to volunteer their
time, expertise, experience and perspective. However, Wylie said,
limited means should not deter an attorney from applying for a
position. While volunteers are not paid for their services, they are
reimbursed for approved travel expenses.
Nor should attorneys hesitate about applying to
the same committee more than once. Often, there are simply too many
qualified applicants for a limited number of positions, Wylie said.
Following are brief descriptions of the
committees, commissions and boards seeking volunteers for the
The ACCESS AND FAIRNESS COMMITTEES focus
on the under-represented attorney - the lawyer who is, for example,
an ethnic minority, gay, lesbian, transgender or a senior lawyer. The
Committee on Ethnic Minority Relations, Commit-tee on Legal
Professionals with Disabilities, Committee on Sexual Orientation and
Gender Identity Discrimination, and Committee on Women in the Law all
seek greater involvement of under-represented attorneys in the
administration and governance of the State Bar's programs and
activities. Members may conduct MCLE presentations, write articles,
participate in membership surveys, network on a state and national
level, plan seminars or raise funds, in addition to attending
meetings. The Committee on Senior Lawyers works to address issues
concerning senior lawyers by providing information and education.
The COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
studies and reports recommendations on proposed changes in civil
procedure, court rules and administration, rules of evidence and other
matters having an impact on the administration of justice in the civil
courts. It also evaluates and, in some cases, prepares amendments to
proposed court rules and state legislation. Members must have at least
three years of civil practice experience.
The COMMITTEE ON ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE
RESOLUTION analyzes and comments on proposals relating to
alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This 22-member committee also
drafts proposals for the board of governors' consideration, conducts
educational programs and identifies issues concerning ADR and the
practice of law, the administration of justice and access to justice.
The COMMITTEE ON APPELLATE COURTS reviews
proposed changes to the rules of court affecting appellate courts.
Members can review and comment on proposed legislation affecting
appellate court operation and appellate practice. In some instances,
the 16-member committee may initiate legislative and rules proposals
in these areas.
The COMMITTEE OF BAR EXAMINERS examines
applicants who take the first-year law students' examination and the
bar examination. The 19-member committee also recommends qualified
applicants to the California Supreme Court for admission to the bar.
It accredits California law schools, registers unaccredited and
correspondence law schools and studies proposed changes related to the
admission to practice law in California.
The COMMITTEE ON DELIVERY OF LEGAL SERVICES
identifies, develops and supports improvements in the day-to-day
delivery of legal services to poor and middle-income individuals in
California. The committee serves as a resource to the board of
governors on legal services issues and relevant legislation. In
addition, committee members work to encourage attorneys to provide pro
bono legal services to indigents.
The COMMITTEE ON FEDERAL COURTS studies,
recommends and reports on proposed changes in the rules, procedures
and practices of the federal courts in California. And by meeting with
federal court judges and representatives throughout the state,
committee members seek to understand the key issues concerning the
The COMMITTEE ON GROUP INSURANCE PROGRAMS
studies proposals for new programs and changes to existing programs in
the various State Bar-approved member group insurance programs
(accidental death and disability, disability income/extra overhead,
health, life, long-term care and workers' compensation). It also
counsels and advises the board of governors.
The COMMITTEE ON MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION
oversees the mandatory fee arbitration program established by the
Business and Professions Code and the State Bar's mandatory fee
arbitration department. Committee members also have the opportunity to
comment on legislative proposals and to recommend changes to the State
Bar's Rules of Procedure, guidelines and minimum standards. In
addition, the committee, which is responsible for drafting the State
Bar-approved sample fee agreements, breaks up into teams to work on
projects involving research, writing and editing.
The COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
AND CONDUCT focuses on questions of professional ethics. The
committee's advisory opinions address questions submitted by
individual attorneys, local bar associations and the State Bar Board
of Governors. The committee - comprised of 14 attorneys and two
public members - also makes recommendations regarding changes in the
State Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct and advises the board of
governors on laws and regulations regarding professional
The COMMITTEE ON STATE BAR APPROVED
PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE oversees the bar's professional
liability insurance program and makes recommendations for change. It
also counsels and advises the board of governors. In addition, the
committee strives to stay attuned to the needs of California attorneys
and consumers, and works to reduce the number and severity of attorney
malpractice claims through education.
The SECTION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES oversee
each of the State Bar's 16 sections, which address specific segments
of the profession. Each executive committee directs the policies and
affairs of the section, works with the board of governors and
supervises the section's activities. The sections vary in the amount
of time devoted to legislation, legal education, practice issues and
public education. For appointment, an applicant must belong to the
The sections seeking new executive committee
members include: Antitrust and Unfair Competition Section; Business
Law Section; Criminal Law Section; Environmental Law Section; Estate
Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section; Family Law Section;
Intellectual Property Section; International Law Section; Labor and
Employment Law Section; Law Practice Management and Technology
Section; Litigation Section; Public Law Section; Real Property
Section; Solo and Small Firm Section; Taxation Section; and Workers'
Compensation Law Section.
The CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE
explores ways to improve access to civil justice for Californians
living on low and moderate incomes. This 23-member commission -
comprised of lawyers and judges, as well as academic, business, labor
and community leaders - played a key role in establishing a $10
million Equal Access Fund for civil legal services to the indigent. In
seeking to improve access to the courts, the commission works closely
with the Judicial Council.
The CLIENT SECURITY FUND COMMISSION
oversees the Client Security Fund (CSF), which reimburses clients who
have lost money or property due to theft or an equivalent dishonest
act committed by a California attorney acting in a professional
capacity. This seven-member commission evaluates CSF applications and
determines payment of funds. It also makes recommendations for changes
in rules and the claims process. For 2002, the commission has three
public member vacancies.
The COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL NOMINEES EVALUATION
evaluates judicial candidates for the governor.
The commission cannot nominate or appoint judges. It does,
however, investigate candidates, send out evaluations, contact
respondents who provide a "not qualified" rating and share its
findings with the governor. The application deadline is Jan. 22. Those
appointed to the commission must attend a three-day orientation
meeting in May; their 2002-2003 terms begin on June 1.
The LEGAL SERVICES TRUST FUND COMMISSION
administers the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts program and the
Equal Access Fund. The commission seeks applicants who are committed
to the delivery of legal services to the poor and are sensitive to the
needs of low-income communities.
The CALIFORNIA BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
administers the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal
Specialists with the assistance of specialty advisory commissions. The
11-member board also provides policies and guidelines for the
certification of specialists, develops tests and legal education
programs and advises the board of governors.
The ADVISORY LAW COMMISSIONS TO THE CALIFORNIA
BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION advise and assist the California
Board of Legal Specialization in the administration of its
certification programs. They pass upon certification and
re-certification applications, prepare specialist examinations and
accredit programs and providers of continuing legal education. There
is an advisory commission for each of the following specialties:
Appellate Law; Criminal Law; Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law;
Family Law; Immigration and Nationality Law; Personal and Small
Business Bankruptcy Law; Taxation Law; and Workers' Compensation
For further information on available positions,
visit the State Bar's web site at www.calbar.org.
Or contact the bar's appointments office at 415/538-2299, or the
committee's staff liaison by calling the bar's main number