I came to the Board of Governors as an outsider. I nevertheless thought I knew a lot about the State Bar. I was wrong, but as subsequently verified by plebiscite debates, was not alone. I found that the State Bar, in fact, is efficient, provides comprehensive programs to a diverse profession, and effectively balances the needs of both our public and profession. It does so despite the problems inherent in being the largest bar of its kind in the world and serving a difficult public and attorney population.
The major concern to our profession, however, should not be worrying about the nuts and bolts of the State Bar, but our own individual apathy and lack of attention to major changes our profession is experiencing. Respect for the law and the legal process, as well as its participants, is declining. Our profession, one that publicly prides itself on its aspirational goals and heritage, needs to individually and collectively recognize these issues and renew our traditional virtues.
Our professional future lies in members individually recognizing our common bonds and expecting more from ourselves and our colleagues. If we continue the tendency to view the practice in purely business terms, without regard for our traditional aspirations, we can expect the public to respond accordingly. We will not be deserving of having a unified State Bar. More importantly, society could even lose the fundamental values of public justice and due process that we are here to serve in the first place.
I served under three presidents (Margaret Morrow, Don Fischbach and Jim Towery) and while they each had their own styles, they had the same goal: to make our profession the best it can possibly be. I have enjoyed the attorneys and public members who make up the board, and learned to appreciate that although we have different points of view, in the end we are all concerned about helping and improving our profession. The number of attorneys throughout the state who are volunteering innumerable hours of service are a credit to the determination of our profession to be the best that it can be.
My three years were devoted in great part to our discipline system, and many changes were brought about due to the Alarcon report. The changes were healthy, as was the plebiscite.
I have great concerns that many in our profession are having a difficult time just making ends meet. At our September board meeting, we adopted State Bar goals and policy objectives for the future. One of these is to promote and foster career development, employment opportunities and mentoring for recently admitted, unemployed and under-employed attorneys.
Hopefully this will be the beginning of establishing strategies for assisting attorneys in an ever-changing working environment.
I leave the board with a feeling of achievement but also with the knowledge that our profession is dynamic and always changing. It has been a wonderful three years.
When I began my term as a member of the Board of Governors in 1993, my daughter began her first year as a student at Hastings School of Law. This allowed me the vantage point of looking at our profession and our judicial system as a person just discovering their wonders.
I thought if the public could be as inspired as my daughter, wouldn't support for our courts and our profession be improved. The State Bar supports many educational efforts and it recently produced a documentary entitled "Juries on Trial" to be aired this fall. I believe there is much more creative time, energy and money which the bar could be investing in public education.
I believe the way clients are served will be altered radically as a result of funding cutbacks for legal services. The bar can be a progressive and positive influence in anticipating and planning for this change.
Partly as a result of the inaccessibility of the courts, the field of private judging and related areas have expanded. Because of consumer complaints, look for the bar to respond to the need for regulating lawyers and former judges who act as ADR neutrals. This is a movement which is here to stay.
As I leave the Board of Governors, I am inspired by and grateful to all the individual lawyers I have met who stay in the trenches and make significant contributions to the improvement of the courts and our profession every day.
When I went on the board as a much younger man, Said I to myself, said
I'll tackle the budget and cut where I can, Said I to myself, said I.
A cynical eye I'll turn to every request
The details of which are held close to the vest
By president, board or staff at their best, Said I to myself, said I.
My spare time I'll spend on ethics and courts, Said I to myself, said I.
Barring probate gifts to lawyers and reforming torts, Said I to myself, said I.
Courtroom cameras, muzzled lawyers and fruits of O.J.,
Business courts, pre-empt challenges and, need I dare say?
I'll always think differently than CTLA, Said I to myself, said I.
As A&F chair, I'll pledge to chop dues, Said I to myself, said I.
But fund Internet and the plebiscite too, Said I to myself, said I.
The state auditor's look we'll easily face
And defend our positions sans fear of disgrace
Keeping senatorial detractors firmly in place, Said I to myself, said I.
As my bar term ends, I'll show no regrets, Said I to myself, said I.
Nor worry myself about post-election debts, Said I to myself, said I.
We in-house counsel have much more to say
In sections, committees and maybe one day
The State Bar we'll finally lead, hip, hip, hooray, Said I to myself, said I.