California Bar Journal
CBJ - March 2011 #03.
Three plans to reform bar governance are on the table
The California LawyerMarch 2011Three plans to reform bar governance are on the tableBy Nancy McCarthyStaff WriterDueling proposals to reorganize the State Bar Board of Governors, ranging from shrinking the numbers to changing the selection process to adding more public members, will be under consideration early this month as a task force wrestles with a legislative mandate to enhance the bar's public protection efforts.
President Bill Hebert recommended eliminating six of 17 lawyer seats on the board and appointment of attorney members by the Supreme Court, a change that would mean California lawyers would no longer elect other lawyers to regulate them. No seats would be reserved for constituent groups, such as young lawyers, and appointment of the public members by the governor and the legislature would remain unchanged.
Board members Jon Streeter of San Francisco and Angela Davis of Los Angeles floated a "hybrid" proposal to leave the board with its current 23 members, but 13 of 16 lawyers would be elected and three would be appointed by the Supreme Court. The number of public members would remain at six, four appointed by the governor, as they are now, and two would be named by the legislature. The president would be the 23rd member.
Wells Lyman, a board member from San Diego, suggested a 19-person board, including a president, one lawyer elected from each of the bar's nine districts, and three additional public members, each appointed by the Supreme Court. Lyman, who has expressed concern that an all-appointed board would exclude lawyers who are not well-connected, said his plan directly addresses a perception that lawyers regulating lawyers is akin to the fox guarding the henhouse. "If attorneys controlling the governance of the State Bar are the problem," he said, "then take away the control by attorneys."
Currently, the board consists of 23 people 15 lawyers, six public members, a young lawyer representative and the president. The lawyers are elected to a three-year term by other lawyers practicing within nine bar districts. Over the last six years, an average of 15.5 percent of eligible lawyers voted in each election. The young lawyer representative and the president...