generosity of our State Bar members is unprecedented and goes well
beyond the call of duty. Lawyers here in California always rise to the
occasion, leading the way among professions within the state and
across the country in donations of time, legal expertise and financial
Just a month ago, the State Bar and its members
joined with Gov. Gray Davis to form a public-private partnership to
offer free legal services to victims of the recent terrorist attacks
on our country. Lawyers immediately stepped forward, through our local
bar associations, through public agencies and from private law firms,
and are now providing pro bono services to families who lost their
loved ones on Sept. 11. Our lawyers have demonstrated time and time
again that they are true leaders, and this particularly difficult time
for our citizens and our nation is no different.
Another significant area in which our lawyers'
contributions make a real difference is through their support of the
Foundation of the State Bar.
In 2001, our lawyers voluntarily contributed more
than $600,000 to the foundation. Because of this generosity,
academically strong students who are economically disadvantaged are
given the chance to attend law school. To see this vital assistance at
work, you need look no further than the November issue of this
newspaper, which paid tribute to the 40 students from diverse
backgrounds who were awarded scholarships from the foundation for the
Contributions to the foundation also provide
grants for a variety of access to justice programs, from youth
education, to helping domestic violence victims, to counseling the
elderly on their legal rights. And for the first time, this past
summer, the foundation contributions were able to bring young people
together for a Legal Heritage Institute in Sacramento, where they
learned about law, law-making and the vital work that goes on at the
Our lawyers also contribute to the betterment of
our profession and our society by donating money to our elimination of
bias fund. With these generous donations of $700,000 this past year,
we are able to finance programs and support mechanisms to open doors
for people of all backgrounds, working toward a more representative
body of lawyers in our bar membership.
In our recent survey, we found that while
progress is being made, only 17 percent of our membership is
non-white, while projections for our state show that by 2010, 60
percent of the California population will be non-white. Our members'
contributions are paving the way for the bar to become a conduit of
resources in the effort to build a membership more reflective of the
wonderful diversity within our state population.
As an example, the Bar Association of San
Francisco has created an excellent School to College program for high
school students who aspire to college and then law school. Mentoring,
sponsoring trips to colleges and other facets of this program assist
young, economically disadvantaged students move toward their dream of
becoming a lawyer. Our goal at the State Bar is not to duplicate these
excellent programs, but to encourage other organizations to build
their own programs and help publicize them so people know they exist
and take advantage of them.
To this end, we are focusing our Midyear Meeting
in Sonoma on access and fairness, highlighting resources available for
all people. This three-day meeting in March will help identify issues
and help us form strategies for improving access and increasing
diversity in the legal profession. And we intend to use future
donations to make the State Bar the distribution point for this
information - built on the premise, "Call us, and we can tell you
where to turn."
Lawyers really do make a difference. We are
grateful for all of the good work we can accomplish because of the
generous contributions of time and money made by our lawyers. They
truly make the work of the State Bar happen. I have asked my colleague
from District 8, Scott Wylie, to address some more specifics regarding