Thanks George Kraw. I hear you loud and clear. Thank you Robert Rosenthal, Bruce Busch, Al Bianchi, Dale Bacigalupi and William Walters … you too have made an impression on my thought process.
The bar president always receives a steady stream of letters and e-mail messages, but the governor’s veto of our funding authority has sent record numbers of them in my direction.
Although I am certain I have not seen them all (as the numbers are overwhelming), I do try to respond, in one form or another to all of them.
The text of the messages are similar. They all contain an opinion about the future of the State Bar and our profession.
Although I agree with very few of them, I feel they may reflect the vocal majority of our silent membership. They contain a wealth of information about how this organization is perceived and respected. Perhaps I have been wrong all along about our members’ sentiments.
I felt, having toiled as a sole practitioner for so many years, that my attitudes might have reflected those of us who make up the largest segment of the bar &emdash; the solo or small firm member.
Our members who have had little contact with the State Bar or who rarely speak up are taking the time to express their concerns and to propose solutions. Local voluntary bar associations insist, for the most part, that we draw a “line in the sand” to maintain the programs we have traditionally offered.
One longtime member urged me to “hang tough.” Others have detailed their past experiences with the State Bar — some positive, most negative.
Others have raised questions about the bar’s budget, programs or policies. Still others have written pages and pages of suggestions for trimming, reconstructing, revamping or rebuilding our 70-year-old bar.
For me, this recent avalanche of letters — including those critical of the bar — is enlightening. It is always important for State Bar members to make their views known. But in light of the recent fee bill veto, it is even more crucial.
My colleagues on the board of governors and I have spent much of these last three months listening to the concerns of the governor and legislators, as well as those of our members.
Our goal is to find common ground, seek a resolution to the crisis and finalize a 1998 fee bill through emergency legislation.
Many of the letters provide snapshots of how many of you view the State Bar. Some are eye-opening.