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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

First professional responsibility award
goes to its namesake

Harry Sondheim

Harry Sondheim

Harry Sondheim has been living and breathing State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct for a quarter of a century. For his career-long commitment to lawyer competence and public protection as well as his leadership in studying and rewriting the revised rules, a State Bar award has been created in his name. The first Harry B. Sondheim Professional Responsibility Award was presented to its namesake last month at the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey for his “invaluable contribution to the State Bar and to the legal profession in California.”

Professional responsibility has been a passion of the 74-year-old retired Los Angeles County criminal prosecutor throughout his career. Even before the commission that he chaired for nine years, the Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, came into existence, Sondheim was heading and serving on other committees related to the rules and professional competency.

The current commission’s charge was to conform California rules, when appropriate, to the American Bar Association Model Rules with the goal of moving toward a national professional responsibility standard. Commission goals also included assuring public protection, eliminating ambiguities in the rules and promoting confidence in the legal profession. Kevin Mohr, the commission’s consultant, praised Sondheim’s “sage and even-handed guidance.”

The 67 rules being sent to the State Supreme Court for approval as well as ethics opinions issued by the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct “have been greatly influenced by [Sondheim’s] personal commitment to lawyer competence and public protection,” the State Bar said in making the award.