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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Kim ends 5-year tenure as chief trial counsel

Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim announced last month she is declining reappointment as the State Bar’s top prosecutor.

Jayne Kim

Bar officials said Kim, a former State Bar prosecutor who returned to the organization in 2011 after serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, leaves behind a department that is more efficient and more effective. She departs with the overwhelming appreciation of the State Bar leadership and Board of Trustees, Executive Director Elizabeth Parker said.

“Jayne has done remarkable work,” Parker said. “She’s been tireless in her commitment to public service and has energetically worked to strengthen an office whose function is vital to protecting the public interest.”

When Kim took the helm of the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC), which prosecutes California lawyers for professional misconduct, she was charged with increasing the responsiveness of the office, leading the hardworking men and women who serve in the OCTC and demonstrating the seriousness with which the bar pursues improper conduct by attorneys. Last year the bar received 15,796 complaints, including an increase in State Bar-initiated complaints that reflects a more proactive approach to identifying problem lawyers. The backlog of unaddressed complaints dropped to 1,500 between 2014-2015, a 25 percent decrease that represents the lowest number since 2009.

“Under Jayne Kim’s management, the OCTC was revolutionized — not only because she oversaw a decrease in the backlog of complaints, but because Ms. Kim placed the office on footing for systemic improvement and ongoing success,” Trustee Dennis Mangers said.

Some on Kim’s staff had raised concerns about her management style. In October, SEIU Local 1000 organized a vote in which 42.5 percent of employees in her office expressed a lack of confidence.

Mangers said: “Whenever you have an agent of change, an agent who creates a culture of accountability where before there was not one, there are bound to be ruffled feathers, but the results speak for themselves.”

“She has held herself and everyone around her to the highest standards,” Parker agreed. “Frankly, she was targeted by others for her courage and integrity in both leading the OCTC and in identifying other improprieties at the organization.”

The bar has asked Kim to work on a contract basis, assisting in its efforts to expand the organizational overhaul of the OCTC to the entire organization.

Starting in September 2011, Kim served as interim chief trial counsel until her official four-year term began Jan. 6, 2012. Initially, she did not want to seek reappointment. But in December, the Board of Trustees voted 14-1 to appoint her to a second four-year term.

“Jayne has only stayed on as chief trial counsel this long because the board asked her to see us through a period of tremendous evolution and transformation,” State Bar President David Pasternak said. “Our new leadership team is now solidly in place and has profited tremendously from her steady hand at the helm of the OCTC.”

“This is the right time for me to move on,” Kim said. “In declining to seek reappointment I leave with a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence that the bar is on the right track to become an exemplary model of a mission-driven agency.”

Kim, 47, previously worked for the Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel as a staff prosecutor and as assistant chief trial counsel before leaving for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles in 2008.

Assistant Chief Trial Counsel Gregory Dresser will serve as acting chief trial counsel during the search for a new chief trial counsel nominee.