State Bar of California

Capitol Alert
By Dan Walters
September 2, 2016 – 10:49 AM

Wednesday night’s legislative stalemate on giving the State Bar permission to continue collecting dues from the state’s lawyers and, more controversially, overhauling its organization and operations, is already creating fallout.

Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, whose reform measures were stymied in the Senate Judiciary Committee, immediately fired off a five-page letter to the State Bar, which licenses and regulates lawyers, seeking detailed information on its finances, including its reserves, its non-dues income and specifics on spending. The letter also asked Elizabeth Parker, the State Bar’s executive director, who was brought in to straighten out the agency after a series of scandals and scathing audits, to detail how the State Bar will reform itself.

In the final days of the session, with private negotiations on a State Bar dues bill stalemated, members of the committee had grilled Parker sharply over a wide range of specific issues, including the extent of the agency’s reserves and how long it could operate if it could not begin 2017 with continued authority to collect dues from attorneys.

Parker, meanwhile, announced on Thursday that the State Bar would ask the state Supreme Court, which shares oversight of the agency with the Legislature, to give it authority to collect at least some 2017 dues from lawyers “in the absence of legislative action.”

During a previous stalemate over State Bar dues authority, the Supreme Court authorized it to assess lawyers partial dues to keep its regulatory functions intact, but Parker said in her announcement that the new request “is expected to be more comprehensive…”

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