After weeks of listening to the governor and legislators, as well as hundreds of attorneys from all corners of the state, we have jointly come up with what I believe is the best solution to the funding crisis which continues to threaten the State Bar’s existence.
The introduction of AB 1669 represents an enormous step toward addressing the issues confronting our 71-year-old State Bar. The real work, challenge and opportunity is just beginning.
The bill is authored by Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys; newly elected Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles; and outgoing Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante, D-Fresno. It is co-authored by outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, D-Hayward.
The bill retains a unified State Bar to carry out regulatory functions and calls for a different structure for activities such as the Conference of Delegates and our sections.
It also lowers dues.
The bill’s most important point, however, is that it retains a State Bar in charge of attorney regulation, discipline, admissions and other related core functions.
California’s attorney discipline system — a process that has evolved for decades to meet the needs of a growing, changing profession — is integral to the legal profession’s role in protecting the public.
In reading countless letters from members and in talking to attorneys and consumers statewide, I have fielded very few complaints focused on the workings of the discipline system. The system’s costs, of course, are always an issue and some of the bar’s other activities and programs have certainly raised concerns.
But, in general, there seems to be little debate over the value of our discipline system to the public and our members.
Just consider the alternative.