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Chief Trial Counsel Towery resigns

James E. Towery, chief trial counsel for the State Bar for the past year, resigned, effective July 1. "After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this position and my personal situation are not a good fit," Towery said. "The challenge of managing offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles while maintaining my residence in San Jose has proven more onerous than I anticipated."

James Towery
James Towery

Towery, 62, a longtime trial attorney who served as president of the State Bar in 1995-96, left San Jose's Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel after more than 20 years of service there, to head the bar's 225-employee Office of Chief Trial Counsel 10 months ago.

"It's with great regret that I learned of Jim's resignation," said State Bar President William Hebert. "In his time here, he's made substantial and lasting contributions to the bar in matters of public protection."

In less than a full year on the job, Towery said, he had led his team to adopt "a number of initiatives that I believe have advanced the cause of public protection," including creating a specialized team to handle major misappropriations, expanding the team of attorneys prosecuting loan modification misconduct, creating consumer alerts on the State Bar's website for serious misappropriation and loan modification misconduct cases and making it easier to for the public to file online complaints against attorneys.

Under Towery's leadership, the office also initiated a number of high profile investigations advancing public protection. "I am honored to have served as the leader of trial counsel's employees and I thank them all for their dedication to the cause of public protection, Towery added.

The State Bar faces "daunting challenges" in its future, including a significantly increased workload created by lawyer misconduct related to the mortgage crisis, Towery said. He said he would return to the San Jose legal community, "where I have been actively involved for over 30 years."

Since 1986, when the chief trial counsel job was defined by statute, six people, including Towery, have held the job. Plans to identify a successor are underway.