State Bar GC Babcock to retire
General Counsel Starr Babcock, who has served as the State Bar of
California’s top legal adviser for the past three years, announced that he will
retire Jan. 31, 2014 after a 40-year career dominated by public service to the
Babcock took the position of general counsel at a time when the State Bar
was recovering from a veto of its annual fee bill and undergoing a shift in
leadership. Babcock worked closely with Executive Director/CEO Joseph Dunn when
he assumed the leadership in 2010. Babcock and the Office of General Counsel
also staffed the Governance Reform Task Force, whose recommendations made major
changes in the Board of Trustees' governance model and provided the legal
analysis and support to increase openness and transparency of public meetings.
In addition, the Office of General Counsel has successfully petitioned and
is awaiting oral argument in the California Supreme Court in six cases related
to immigration status, moral character standards and access to public records.
“As general counsel Starr reorganized and revitalized the General Counsel’s
Office to truly meet the challenges we now face,” State Bar President Patrick
Kelly said. “In those efforts he has proved himself to be a tremendous lawyer as
well as a thoughtful manager.”
Babcock, 66, will retire with about 25 years of combined service to the
State Bar and the Administrative Office of the Courts, the policymaking body
for the California Courts. He served as managing attorney of the AOC’s Office
of General Counsel. His past roles at the State Bar included senior executive
of member services and liaison to the California Supreme Court.
“All of us on the Supreme Court will miss Starr Babcock and the wise counsel
and collaborative spirit he brought to his many roles,” Chief Justice Tani G.
Cantil-Sakauye said. “He has been an exemplar of public service, not only at
the State Bar, but also during his earlier service at the Administrative Office
of the Courts. On behalf of the court, I wish him the very best in this next
phase of his life and thank him for his service.”
In 2007, Babcock was appointed by Senior U.S. District Judge Thelton E.
Henderson as a pro bono mediator and special assistant to the federal court in
its efforts to ensure adequate health care in California’s prisons. Recently,
Henderson issued an order in the case recognizing his instrumental work and
designating Babcock as his “Main Pro Bono Man.” “Throughout his service, Starr has acted with great humor and dedication, and
he has given his time and assistance freely and without charge,” Henderson said
in the July 2 order.
Babcock plans to assist in recruiting and vetting his successor to ensure a
smooth transition over the next six months.
A graduate of Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, Babcock received
his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center. He is a resident of San
Francisco and he is married to Margo M. Leahy, a physician. The couple has two