by Shannon Stein, 2011 SCCBA President
All ready my first month of being SCCBA President has been busy. I attended many meetings representing our organization. In early January, I attended the Bench, Bar, Media and Police Committee Planning Group. This Committee, administered by the Superior Court, sponsors off-the-record educational seminars on a variety of topics for Committee members. The Committee is made up of members from the Bench, the SCCBA, the chiefs of police in the County, the media including the Editor of the Mercury News and representatives of the legal press. I also attended the Superior Court's Community Outreach Committee. This Committee is primarily made up of members of the Bench and some community members such as the Superintendent of Schools from San Jose. The goal of this Committee is to make the Judicial System more easily understandable to the community by establishing a speakers’ bureau, having tours of our courtrooms and other community/court activities. I also had the opportunity to testify before the State Bar Governance Task Force with Chris Burdick, Executive Director and General Counsel of the SCCBA.
To refresh your memory, this year the State Bar is exploring its governance structure—that is, the composition and selection of the Board of Governors. The 2011 State Bar dues bill, approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in September 2010, included a provision for creation of a Governance in the Public Interest Task Force, charged with improving the public protection function of the State Bar. Appointed by the President of the State Bar Board of Governors, the Task Force is made up of seven lawyers and three public members of the board. It also includes five ex-officio members. By May 15, 2011, the Task Force is to submit a report to the Supreme Court, the Governor and the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees "containing recommendations for enhancing the protection of the public and ensuring that protection of the public is the highest priority in the licensing, regulation, and discipline of attorneys.” It was an amazing experience to testify before the Task Force about the SCCBA’s recommendations. Before we began testifying, Bill Hebert, the current California State Bar President, encouraged the Task Force to listen carefully to Chris and I as the Santa Clara County Bar Association is one of the premier bar associations in the country and that many other associations, including the State Bar, have looked to our association for input and ideas for programs. (His comments, of course, made me feel even more proud to represent our Association.)
The Task Force seems to be focusing on the composition and selection of the Board of Governors—for example should the Board include more public members, fewer attorneys and/or fewer members overall. The SCCBA’s position is that the Supreme Court should be exercising more direct responsibility over all matters involving public protection activities of the State Bar, in particular, those involving the areas of admission, regulation and discipline of attorneys. This oversight role of the Supreme Court flows from the Court's plenary power over the practice of law and attorneys. The Legislature and Governor over the years have become increasingly involved in the setting of policy and management oversight of the State Bar through their authority to approve the dues of the State Bar. This involvement is particularly noticeable when they disagree with a position taken or activity pursued by the State Bar. It is our position that this encroachment by the Legislature and Governor presents a separation of powers issue that should be addressed before any other substantive matters mandated by the Legislature. I will keep you informed on the outcome of the Task Force’s work.
Also this month, I attended the SCCBA Installation Night where I and Judge Mary Arand were the key note speakers and my good friend Steve Krause entertained us with his music. I also helped train our new Board of Trustee Leaders to become acquainted with their new position on the board.
As you are aware my project this year is entitled “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.” With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I would share with you my advice regarding how lawyers can be leaders in their relationships. Now keep in mind that I am not an expert in marriage or relationships. However, I do practice family law and have seen many marriages and relationships at their worst. Here is my top ten list on how to be a leading lawyer in a relationship. (These are not ranked.)
1) Communication-when things are not going well, talk about them, when things are going great acknowledge that.
2) Don’t make each other “fish” for compliments-my husband always tells me to “stop fishing’ when I ask him question such as how do I look? Or how do you like this shirt? Well, if you tell your partner every now and then that they look great, you like what they are wearing, etc.—they won’t have to “fish!”