CBJ - October 2012 #01. Pat Kelly harmonizes his musical past with a career in the law.

Author:By Susan McRae Special to the Bar Journal

California Bar Journal


CBJ - October 2012 #01.

Pat Kelly harmonizes his musical past with a career in the law

The California LawyerOctober 2012Pat Kelly harmonizes his musical past with a career in the lawBy Susan McRae Special to the Bar JournalPatrick M. Kelly won't officially take over as 88th president of the State Bar of California until Oct. 13, but the veteran trial lawyer and western regional manager of 850-lawyer Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman and Dicker is already preparing for the job ahead.

On a recent day, while seeming to segue effortlessly between a whirlwind of phone calls, conferences and an assortment of management tasks, he made time to join the presiding judge and others officiating at an enrobing ceremony at the downtown Los Angeles County courthouse.

A professional musician before turning to the law * he has played guitar with the Beach Boys and other surfer music groups * Kelly addressed the new judges using an analogy to his former career.

"When you write a song, you have to have a concept and then you have to figure out how the words and melody fit together and then you have to add orchestration, background, vocals and whatever lead position is going to be taken. It's a very complex process." he told the seven inductees, "and if you miss any step, the thing falls flat.

"Judges have to do the same thing with every decision they make. The only difference is a judge has to do it dozens of times a day."

Then, he went on to say * to vigorous applause * that when he's inducted as president later this month at the State Bar's annual meeting in Monterey, he'll do "everything the bar can do to aid in the cause" of restoring full funding to the state courts.

Over the past three years, the courts have seen $650 million in cuts with another projected $540 million to come, causing massive staff layoffs, courtroom closures and cuts in vital services. The crisis not only affects public access to justice, he says, but lawyers, especially plaintiffs' lawyers, face years of delays in getting to trial. He called the situation the worst he's seen in his four decades of practice, adding that the problem isn't limited to California. It's nationwide.

Pat Kelly and Mike Love of the Beach Boys jamming together in 2006. Photo courtesy of Professional Liability Underwriting Society

Fit and energetic, Kelly, 69, seems to be everywhere at once without appearing rushed. Friends and...

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