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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Three board members vie for presidency

Their individual goals may vary, but all three candidates vying to be the State Bar’s next president agree that the organization has made great strides in the past year and say they are committed to keeping that momentum going.

Members of the Board of Trustees will vote by secret ballot on July 20 to determine whether Wells Lyman, Patrick Kelly or Loren Kieve will succeed Jon Streeter as president of the 238,000-member bar. It will be the first election since the State Bar changed its governance structure in January and eliminated its long-standing backlog of attorney discipline investigations. The bar also recently assembled a group that will begin exploring whether practical skills training should become a condition of practicing law. 

Wells Lyman

Lyman, 69, a La Mesa-based sole practitioner who specializes in bankruptcy, family law and child custody matters, said it was those kinds of positive changes that motivated him to run.

“There were so many problems when I was on the board that first year,” said Lyman, a past president of the San Diego County and Foothills bar associations who is in his third year on the Board of Trustees. “I've just seen the board move towards such progress that I want to be involved in it and see it through.”

Patrick Kelly

Like Lyman, Kelly, 69, is a third-year member and has experience leading a county bar association, having served as the president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in the early 1990s. Managing partner of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker’s western region, Kelly said he has been committed to public service throughout his career and “knows what makes an organization strong.”

“I feel like I can contribute in a very meaningful way in the job,” he said.

Loren Kieve

Kieve, 64, has his own law firm in San Francisco specializing in complex domestic and international disputes, civil litigation, contracts and government litigation matters. A second-year member of the board, he is able to run as a result of the governance changes, which opened up the presidency to all members, changed the number of officer positions and will ultimately reduce the size of the board.

Kieve, who has served on numerous task forces and committees of the American Bar Association, cites his background, experience and dedication to the practice of law as his motivation for running.

“I think I can be a very effective leader,” he said.

Kelly said he would like to take on new initiatives like exploring whether to create a new section for senior lawyers as well as ways to increase the public’s trust of lawyers, while Kieve said he thinks the bar already has plenty of task forces and would work within the existing structure. Lyman did not cite personal goals explaining that he sees the president as an “enabler and a motivator for the board and the board's goals.”

All three of the candidates said public protection would be their top priority.

Kieve said the bar should continue to focus of providing legal services to those most in need, promoting diversity in the profession, and making sure lawyers meet their obligations.

“The first goal is, of course, to protect the public, and the public is typically the lawyer’s client,” he said.

Lyman said it’s important to take a proactive approach to regulation, getting ahead of problems by helping attorneys do their jobs better.

“If we don’t do regulation well, we can’t do anything else well,” Lyman added. “I think we are on the path to increasing the quality of our regulation.”

Kelly said he believes the “public is protected by strong measures” and that board has truly embraced its central mission of public protection and is poised to accomplish much more.

“We are at a true watershed in the ability of lawyers to serve the public in the state,” he said.

In addition to the three candidates for president, Luis Rodriguez is running for vice president while Heather L. Rosing and Gretchen M. Nelson are vying for the newly created treasurer position.

Although he is running unopposed, Rodriguez shared his thoughts in a candidate’s statement.

“This is an experience which continues to teach me about the need to clearly define, effectively present and successfully act on ideas that serve the best interests of the general public and our profession,” he wrote.