Jim Fox: Bar President Brings Calming Force in Rough Waters, 1016 CABARJ, CBJ - October 2016 #01

AuthorLaura Ernde, Staff Writer

Jim Fox: Bar president brings calming force in rough waters

No. 2016 #01

California Bar Journal

October, 2016

Laura Ernde, Staff Writer

Prominently displayed in the kitchen of Jim Fox's San Carlos home is a crayon drawing of the State of California and an American flag congratulating "Papa" - a cherished gift from his 6-year-old granddaughter after he won the election for president of the State Bar of California's Board of Trustees.

With challenging reform efforts underway and funding uncertainty looming at the bar, people have often asked the happily retired grandfather of seven why he wants to lead the public service organization.

Fox, 72, said he sometimes wonders the same thing.

"If you can come up with an answer, can you tell me what you hear?" he says, breaking into his signature good-natured laugh.

But seriously, Fox says, for him this leadership role is a capstone to the work he's done his entire adult life.

"I've spent my whole adult life in some form of public service," he said "I never became a lawyer to become wealthy. I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people."

Fox practiced law for 46 years in the county where he was raised - 29 of them as the elected district attorney for San Mateo County.

He pledged to work with Vice President Danette Myers, Treasurer Jason Lee and the other board members who will keep the staff moving forward, making the organizational improvements necessary to prioritize public protection.

As a longtime government employee, Fox said he understands how good government can and should work. That doesn't mean he expects things to run flawlessly.

"The bar is operated by human beings," he said "All we can do is the best we can."

Fox also brings an insider's perspective to the post. Before being appointed to the board by the California Supreme Court in 2014, Fox spent nearly three years as a special assistant to the bar's disciplinary prosecution unit. He assisted in transitioning the unit to a vertical prosecution model, which eliminated delays in moving cases from investigation to prosecution.

One of Fox's goals for the year, he said, will be trying to repair frayed relationships with the Legislature, which adjourned at the end of August without approving the bar's annual fee bill. Both the Assembly and Senate made it clear that bar reforms are needed, but could not agree on the details. The bar is asking the California Supreme Court to set the fee amount by Dec. 1.


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