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Bill seeks to address State Bar enforcement against bad lawyers, finance issues

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nobody was happy, but members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved a State Bar dues bill Tuesday with amendments intended to address ongoing concerns about the organization’s inconsistent enforcement against bad lawyers and the ability to manage its own finances.

Senate Bill 387 by Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson from Santa Barbara would allow the State Bar of California to charge annual dues of up to $390 in 2016, the same rate as this year. A slew of new amendments also address concerns about a year of turmoil at the agency that regulates more than 250,000 lawyers in the state.

First, in November 2014, the State Bar terminated executive director Joe Dunn. He turned around and filed a lawsuit alleging the bar fired him for filing whistleblower complaints alleging financial improprieties. The two sides are in now in arbitration. Then, last month, a critical state audit blasted the State Bar for inconsistent discipline and shoddy finances.

“I don’t know that I’m pleased to present (Senate Bill 387) ... but we believe this measure will tighten the bar and hold it more accountable,” Jackson said to committee members.

If approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the bill would authorize the bar to collect dues and continue operations through 2016. Senate Bill 387 also includes many recommendations by the State Auditor, including a better definition of what constitutes the bar ”backlog” of discipline cases.

Read the whole story at Sacramento Business Journal


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