Lawmakers on Tuesday took aim at the State Bar of California, comparing the agency to a sinking ship and equating bar leaders' repeated promises of change to the cartoon character Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown once again.
"I'm convinced this year that the state bar is the Titanic," Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, told colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. Chiu, a former civil rights attorney, called the bar's new roster of executives "well-meaning" but said the "organization is too far gone at this point" to avoid significant changes by the Legislature.
The committee was discussing the annual bar dues bill, which, in its current draft, keeps dues at their current levels for active and inactive members. But the discussion quickly turned to a debate currently engulfing the bar—whether the agency should be split into two new organizations, one focusing primarily on admissions and lawyer discipline and the other dealing with advocacy for the profession. Tuesday's conversation was fueled by a 19-page committee analysis detailing the bar's recent history of missteps, from securing a San Francisco building loan with members' future dues—without the Legislature's knowledge—to failing to act on hundreds of consumer complaints about the unauthorized practice of law.
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