California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - September 1998
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Need info about bar members? Look on the net
Western State law school wins provisional approval for ABA accreditation
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You Need to Know
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From the President - A privilege gone awry
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In defense of opinion
Thomas can think as he chooses
Time to drain the 'BOG'
Let's build a stronger forum
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Letters to the Editor
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Trials Digest
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Legal Tech - 10 reasons to ignore 2000 problem
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New Products & Services
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Law Practice - When mediating, let your imagination run loose
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MCLE Self-Study
The Internet and Global Implications
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics Byte - 'He said, she said' rule for sex
Attorney disbarred after investing client's assets
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Annual Meeting
Did you know these Monterey Peninsula facts?
Scenic, legal visions on the menu
Four vie to lead embattled State Bar
11 seek five seats on bar board
District 2: Three-way race in capital and environs
District 4: Unopposed in San Francisco, Albers is ready
District 7, Office 1: 3 seek southern seat...
District 7, Office 2: ...and also in Los Angeles...
District 3: Two-way race develops in South, East Bay region
Four vie to lead embattled State Bar
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Staff Writer
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Fundamental change, whether imposed on the State Bar by the legislature and the governor or undertaken voluntarily, will most likely be the key challenge faced by the next bar president.

Four candidates for the top job agree that issues raised by bar critics in recent years must be addressed, and each wants to preserve a strong organization. They differ on the details, but acknowledge that a new leader will be forced to make critical decisions about the State Bar's future in the coming year.

At a crossroads

“We're at a crossroads, with or without a fee bill, as to where we're headed,” said Raymond C. Marshall, a San Francisco attorney who has long believed that the legal profession should offer more than a way to earn a living.

In addition to Marshall, a partner with McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen, the other candidates are Sacramento city attorney Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey A. Tidus, an attorney with Coudert Brothers in Los Angeles, and public member Dr. Dorothy Tucker, a Los Angeles psychologist.

With the exception of Tucker, who is in her eighth year on the board of governors, each has served three years on the board.

More similar than different

The candidates' similarities are more apparent than their differences. Faced with heading a seriously crippled bar, they agreed that the board of governors needs to engage in long-range planning, establish priorities, re-establish credibility, and ensure vigilant regulation of the legal profession.

Gov. Pete Wilson, who vetoed the bar's dues authorization bill in October, wants to replace the current board of mostly elected attorneys with a board of mostly political appointees. Despite the tenuous future of both the board and the presidency, the candidates believe the bar will need a leader.

“We don't know what form the bar is going to take, but it's not going to disappear,” Marshall said. “There's going to be a need to have someone at the helm who recognizes that there has to be some change.”

“The new board needs to step back and come up with a plan, in light of political realities and what our members have said, of what functions a new bar should perform and what functions are best performed by other groups,” said Tidus.

Role of sections

Not resigned to separating the bar into voluntary and mandatory components, as proposed by most legislation introduced subsequent to the veto, Tidus favors retaining the 17 educational sections in a mandatory bar whose core functions should be discipline, admissions and competence.

The sections serve as a link for members, provide resources to sole and small firm practitioners, and are a key part of the drive for competence and professionalism. “That said,” Tidus added, “they'll have to be totally self-funded.”

Regardless of what form the bar assumes, it will face the same problem it had three years ago, when the attorney candidates began their terms, said Jackson: “Running a fiscally fit organization and providing service to those who are paying for it as well as to the general public.”

While creating a long-range plan, the bar should concentrate immediately on its lack of credibility, particularly in Jackson's home town of Sacramento, where he is anxious that the bar maintain “a major presence” and that lawyers serve as a kind of brain trust to analyze issues for lawmakers.

The plain-spoken Jackson, 51, said the bar has become a political football and he does not believe there is substantial truth to many of the allegations leveled against it recently. But he does believe plenty of people think the bar “is the maker of all evils.”

And perceptions are important, Jackson said. “If the perception is that you are distant or you don't care or you're not concerned, that becomes reality for those who hold that perception.”

Public member

Tucker has the longest history of the four candidates, having been appointed twice by former Assembly speaker Willie Brown and to one term by Sen. Bill Lockyer. As a non-lawyer and a psychologist, she is running for the presidency (for the third time) because “they need a sane voice.”

Tucker questions whether the current system of governance allows the board to operate effectively. “I don't think there should be governance by the president,” she said, “because it puts too much pressure on the president rather than the board and staff. Everybody should be included.”

Tucker does not believe the governor's veto was warranted, but says it's clear the board needs to establish priorities, develop a fundraising strategy to generate more income, and become a more proactive organization.

Return to services

Early in her board service, the bar responded to disasters, was active in legal services and engaged in other cutting-edge activities, Tucker said, and she would like to see a return to providing services for both attorneys and consumers.

The 45-year-old Marshall, who would become the third bar president from his firm if elected, says that in addition to dealing with practical matters like structure, rebuilding the staff, and retaining the educational sections, the bar must address larger issues of professionalism and access.

“The role of a lawyer is to lead the profession, and that includes making sure we have a profession that is sensitive to the ideals of integrity, excellence and access to justice,” Marshall said.

Bar of the future

Acknowledging the bar of the future will be different, he said that does not necessarily mean it must also be weaker. “The State Bar is not going to go away,” he said. “The State Bar is not going to stop speaking to issues that our members believe are central to our profession.”

Tidus, 42, also says the new board of governors must be visionary; it must decide what form a new bar will take, what can be kept and what can be discarded. With limited funds and resources, duplicative tasks performed by local bars or other groups can be eliminated, as can activities which are politically unpalatable.

If elected, he said his term will not be taken up with trips to Sacramento.

“We need to regulate ourselves and insure that the profession acts competently, professionally and ethically,” Tidus said. “If the governor and the legislature say we have to do that on $77 (dues per member), then we'll get volunteers and take other measures and get the work done.”

The balloting

The election for president will take place at the board of governors meeting in San Francisco on Sept. 12.

The new president will succeed Marc Adelman of San Diego, who took office just prior to Gov. Wilson's veto of the fee bill and has dealt during his year in office almost solely with the crisis.

The new president and five newly elected board members will begin their terms after the Annual Meeting. For board candidate profiles, see Pages 40-45.