|Caught in the middle of legislative wrangling over the State Bar is the
institution of the Conference of Delegates.
As one of the primary targets of the
governors veto message in October, the fate of the conference was set on a path
separate from the bar in the Hertzberg bill which was crafted to answer the
In that legislation, any funding of the conference from mandatory dues would have ended
July 1, 1998, except as required by contracts entered into prior to Jan. 8, 1998.
With the endorsement of this legislation by the board of governors in January, the
State Bar staff developed a mindset that the conference would indeed be separate by July 1
and acted accordingly.
Thus, plans for the Annual Meeting in October were made which called for an extra
charge to attend the conference in addition to the base registration fee.
This plan was opposed by the executive committee as an unfair penalty on the
conference, which is still part of the State Bar and the Annual Meeting.
The board agreed and adopted a fee plan for the annual meeting calling for a
pre-registration fee of $225 for all participants, including conference registrants.
However, it is clear that under any legislative plan enacted by the legislature and
signed by the governor, the conference will be separated from the State Bar.
In order to deal with this harsh reality, the executive committee has been working with
CALB--the California Association of Local Bars--and COSBA the California
Organization of Small Bar Associations--to develop a voluntary statewide bar association
able to assume the task of providing a legislative forum for attorneys throughout our
state to come together to debate issues of law and lobby those issues with the
At a mid-year meeting in February, a working group with the title "The Future of
the Profession Committee"--FOPCOM--was formed to seek a consensus for the mission and
structure of such a voluntary statewide bar association.
A further meeting was held May 26, when the initial proposal for this "new
bar" was presented to local bar leaders from throughout the state and other
interested parties, including representatives from the sections of the State Bar.
Copies of the FOPCOM proposal are in circulation, at the request of the executive
committee, to all delegations registered with the conference and to all other interested
bar associations throughout the state.
The executive committee is committed to organizing and conducting a conference of
delegates in October and in the future.
To that end, we have agreed to bifurcate the conference in October to conduct the
regular business of the conference and to serve as a forum for the establishment and
refinement of the "new bar" as is necessary.
We urge all concerned to study the proposal for a new bar, to present your ideas and to
make your commitment to the future of the work of the conference through a new statewide
Working together as a team, we will see the conference, as the forum for our profession
in this state, emerge from this crisis as an even stronger and more effective voice for
attorneys and our interests in Sacramento.
Matthew St. George is the chair-elect of the
Conference of Delegates Executive Committee.