State Bar of California

By Dan Walters
September 12, 2016 – 9:54 PM

Political and legal wrangling over the fate of the State Bar took another turn Monday.

In the wake of a legislative stalemate, State Bar trustees asked the state Supreme Court for authority to collect at least some fees from attorneys to maintain its operations.

However, the trustees didn’t specify exactly how much of the $315 per lawyer in annual “dues” they should get and backed off from asking the court to declare that the State Bar could collect a broad array of operational funds without legislative approval.

Had they made the latter request, which the State Bar staff originally proposed, it would have been a virtual declaration of war on the Legislature, which adjourned Aug. 31 without giving the agency authority to assess dues for 2017.

Even so, an initial motion to seek funds to “ensure full functioning of the State Bar’s public protection functions” drew a sharp retort from one trustee, Michael Colantuono of Grass Valley, that it would be seen as a “single-digit salute” to the Legislature.

Ultimately, the board, with one dissenting vote, agreed on a similar, but still nonspecific, request to the Supreme Court for sufficient dues income to continue operating until the Legislature can resolve its internal differences over organizational reforms of the much-troubled agency, which licenses and regulates the state’s attorneys.

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