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State Bar welcomes signing of annual fee bill

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law the State Bar’s annual fee bill, SB 387, which will keep the basic yearly licensing fee at $315 for 2016 for practicing lawyers in California.

This brings the total 2016 fee for active lawyers to $430 — also unchanged from this year — which includes $40 for legal aid nonprofits, $40 for the Client Security Fund, which reimburses victims of dishonest lawyers, $25 for disciplinary activities and $10 for the Lawyer Assistance Program, which provides support for lawyers needing help. The 2016 annual fee for inactive lawyers remains $155.

SB 387 also contains new requirements for an in-depth financial audit of the State Bar, a workforce plan for its discipline system and a change in reporting of its disciplinary backlog, all of which the State Bar fully supports.

The State Bar also fully supports the law’s further enhancements to its public records rules, which take effect Jan. 1, and open meeting rules, which take effect April 1. The State Bar's open meetings rules were similar to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, and it had approved new rules for public access to its records before the fee bill passed.

“The Board of Trustees has just hired me as executive director, Leah Wilson as chief operations officer and Vanessa Holton as general counsel, and the three of us are working together to move the State Bar toward a new level of responsible openness, which will offer the public a better understanding of the workings of the State Bar,” said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, who began last month.