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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

State Bar targets 1,300 for $8.5 million in collections

The State Bar of California is broadening efforts to collect about $8.5 million owed by about 1,300 disciplined attorneys in cases dating back to 2006.

In 2004, as a result of changes in the law, the organization began filing judgments against attorneys ordered to pay the State Bar the cost of their disciplinary proceedings. Judgments allow access to untapped assets, including, for example, when a debtor attempts to refinance a mortgage.

General Counsel Vanessa Holton, whose office is spearheading the broadened collections effort, has committed an attorney and a paralegal from the Office of General Counsel to work with other State Bar departments to bring the filing of judgments current.

“Collecting these debts has always been challenging, but we must send a message to disciplined attorneys that the State Bar will make its best effort to obtain reimbursement, no matter the amount,” Holton said.

In 2014, at the urging of the State Bar, the Legislature enacted a law allowing the State Bar to intercept tax refunds through the Franchise Tax Board as an additional collections tool. The intercepted money from this interagency program – totaling $292,338 to date – is deposited into the Legal Services Trust Fund, which provides free legal services to low-income Californians.