Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014 – 12:00 am

The State Bar is something of an odd duck – a quasi-private, quasi-public entity that simultaneously regulates the legal profession and acts as a trade association and political advocate for lawyers.

It’s as if the California Medical Association, the doctors’ trade organization, had merged with the California Medical Board, which licenses and regulates physicians.

Why the State Bar has those two somewhat disparate, conflict-laden functions is lost in history.

Nevertheless, when it seeks legislation, there’s always uncertainty over whether it’s protecting the public from shoddy legal practices or enhancing its members’ finances.

That issue arose last year in Assembly Bill 888, carried by Sacramento Democrat Roger Dickinson, which would have empowered the State Bar to levy civil fines against those it deemed to be unlawfully practicing law.

The State Bar and Dickinson insisted that new powers were needed to protect unsuspecting consumers from those offering legal services without being licensed lawyers.

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