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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Despite bar board’s uncertain future,
17 candidates throw their hats in the ring

Some of the 17 lawyers running for a seat on the State Bar Board of Governors are making perennial recommendations: reduce bar dues, cut costs, revamp the discipline system. But at a time when the future composition of the board is uncertain, new ideas include maintaining lawyers as board leaders and reducing the size of the bar administration.

The candidates include a public defender and a deputy district attorney. Five work at big law firms, one at a medium size firm and one is a corporate lawyer. Two are repeat candidates, including one with a discipline record. Two are presidents of their local Federalist Society chapters. Two others have served as local bar association presidents and four more have extensive bar experience. One lists “outsider” among his credentials.

In the first election since bar districts were reconfigured and the second since voters have been allowed to cast ballots either electronically or with mail-in ballots, the election may prove to be the last with the board in its current form. The legislature has asked for recommendations on revamping bar governance, and the recommendations are due May 15.

State Bar President Bill Hebert favors reducing the number of members on the board from 23 to 15 and giving the State Supreme Court authority to appoint the lawyer members. An alternative “hybrid” proposal from third-year board members Jon Streeter and Angela Davis would leave the board with its current 23 members, but 13, rather than all 16 lawyer members, would be elected and three would be appointed by the Supreme Court. The number of public members would remain at six and the 23rd member would be the president.

Despite the uncertain makeup of future boards, the field drew an almost record number of candidates this year, outdone only once in the last 10 years, when 18 candidates fought it out for five seats in 2009.

Five of the nine State Bar districts have open seats this year for the three-year terms. Ballots will be mailed May 2, and State Bar members have until June 30 to cast their votes.

The candidates are:

In the redistricting that occurs every 10 years and is based on population, Districts 8 and 9 gained one governor each while Districts 3 and 7 each lost one.

For the second year, the State Bar is conducting a “hybrid” election in which voters can choose whether to vote electronically or with a traditional mail-in ballot. Winners will take their seats in September and serve three-year terms.