|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
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
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
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 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.