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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Mongolian officials visit State Bar for guidance on attorney regulation

By Rex Bossert
Staff Writer

The State Bar has hosted a delegation of Mongolian legal officials who are gathering information to establish a new attorney regulatory scheme based on California’s model.

Joseph Dunn and Enkhchuluun Jambalsuren
State Bar CEO Joseph Dunn meets with Mongolian lawyer Enkhchuluun Jambalsuren.

The fact-finding delegation was led by Mongolian Bar Association President Batsukh Dorjsuren. They were welcomed late last month to the State Bar’s Los Angeles office with remarks by State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez.

Speaking through a translator, Deputy Executive Director/CEO Robert Hawley introduced the Mongolian delegation to various aspects of the rules of professional conduct for California lawyers, including the duties of client confidentiality and loyalty, the duty of truthfulness to the court and malpractice insurance.

“I think a fundamental question for you is, ‘What [do] you want from your rules?’ ” Hawley said. “Do you want them to tell lawyers how to behave? Or do you want rules to establish clearly defined standards?”

Association of Mongolian Advocates
A delegation of Mongolian lawyers learns about the State Bar Court. From left, they are Batzorigt Jugdernamjil, Enkhchuluun Jambalsuren and Dugarmaa Avirmed.

One official asked what the State Bar does to protect the public. Hawley replied that the bar’s website provides basic information about every lawyer – including background, status and disciplinary record – and an array of bar publications explain laws and legal rights.

Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim described the discipline system for the nearly quarter million State Bar members, as well as the handling of about 16,000 complaints last year, which led to discipline in about 1,000 cases involving more than 400 lawyers.

In contrast, Mongolia, which is located between Russia and China, has nearly 5,000 lawyers and a population of close to 3 million.

Senior Director of Admissions Gayle Murphy explained to the delegation the California bar admissions process and the oversight duties of the 19-member Committee of Bar Examiners.

The delegation also met with State Bar Court officials and observed proceedings of the court, which is independent from the State Bar.

The June 26-27 meeting was part of an exchange that involved two previous meetings between Mongolian and State Bar officials. The exchange was initiated last fall by the Mongolian government.

In October 2013, a Mongolian official contacted the State Bar asking for help implementing that country’s recently passed Law on Lawyers, which created a unified bar association to oversee admission to legal practice and attorney discipline.

The request, which came from Mongolia’s counsel general in San Francisco, sought the State Bar’s help to train the leadership of the Mongolian lawyer group.

Mongolia has vast untapped mineral wealth, but it has also had a reputation for political corruption, according to past State Bar President Howard B. Miller, a partner at Girardi Keese who traveled to Mongolia with bar officials.

Writing for the Daily Journal in April, Miller said: “Mongolia may be a test case for the importance of a functioning legal system that includes an independent integrated bar association as well as a court system based on the rule of law.”