Former state Senator Joseph L. Dunn was named executive director of the State Bar last month, replacing longtime bar leader Judy Johnson, who will retire next year. Dunn was a member of the California State Senate from 1998 to 2006, and in 2005 and 2006 served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Former bar President John Van de Kamp said Dunn is “extraordinarily well-qualified and fits the needs of the bar at this particular time.” Dunn is the third top executive appointed this year.
Recalling a horrific event in his personal life that only increased his respect for the legal profession, Bill Hebert of San Francisco’s Calvo & Clark was sworn in as the State Bar’s 86th president last month. Hebert, 49, who took the oath of office from Chief Justice Ronald George, succeeds Howard Miller of Los Angeles.
In his final address to the State Bar last month, California Chief Justice Ronald M. George said the judicial system is stronger than it was when he was first appointed to the bench 38 years ago, but serious challenges remain. George will retire Jan. 2.
Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the State Bar’s dues bill last month, leaving member fees at the 2010 level of $410 per active member. The measure includes a $10 fee for legal services and it includes requirements for a public protection task force disclosure of bar employees’ salaries and benefits upon request.
The State Bar Board of Governors approved a sample attorney surrogacy contract last month, enabling lawyers to designate a successor attorney to take over their practice in the event of death or disability.
After nine years of debate, the State Bar adopted 67 proposed ethics rules to govern California lawyers’ professional conduct. The rules require Supreme Court approval before taking effect. Although the court is free to reject or return any of the proposals for further work, they offer a behavioral roadmap for attorneys and provide clear guidance in particular areas that have been confusing or controversial, and result in discipline for those who ignore them.
Gary Smith, executive director of the Yolo County Office of Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC), received the 2010 State Bar Loren Miller Legal Services Award, the State Bar’s highest honor. A longtime legal aid advocate, Smith has served as counsel in dozens of successful court cases, helped write legislation and created a community economic development program to build affordable housing.
The 2010 President's Pro Bono Service Awards went to lawyers in nine categories, and honored work that helped adults who have overcome addictions, the homeless, foster parents and recipients of Social Security programs. Their efforts ranged from unlawful detainer and debt collection to evictions and domestic violence. And all for free.
The State Bar presented the 2010 Diversity and Education Pipeline Awards to attorneys, firms, bar associations and education programs for their diversity efforts.
The California Bar Foundation awarded $282,500 to 51 California law students last month, more than half through its diversity program and the remainder to public interest lawyers.