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Recent developments materially affecting California State Bar

Anyone with even a casual interest in the State Bar of California knows that that the officials and legions of workers employed by that entity have no time to spare.

They’re flat-out busy and focused daily on a wide assortment of concerns. That they are is essentially a given; as noted in a recent Bloomberg article on California legal matters, the California bar is “the nation’s largest bar.”

A two-word caveat might reasonably be attached to that distinction, namely this: “by far.”

Reportedly, the bar oversees more than a quarter million attorneys across the state. Historically, it has done so via administration carried out by a sprawling bureaucracy of varied departments and sections.

The state bar’s composition and governance have come under increased attack from a broad swath of commentators in recent years. Critics point to shortcomings linked with overly loose administration (a ranking bar official recently acknowledged the entity’s ongoing governing problems posed by its long-time status as “a hybrid regulatory and trade association”).

And then there are what Bloomberg terms the “turf battles” for oversight supremacy that have long marked relations among the bar, state lawmakers and the California Supreme Court.

In short, the bar has taken a lot of heat, which led to material changes being made within it in 2016 to render it more streamlined, responsive and capable of carrying out its stated mission of protecting the public.

One key change was the forced spinoff of myriad voluntary sections that are now organized and operated under an independent entity distinct from the bar. The purpose for the split was to foster a greater bar focus on what many people think is the biggest problem confronting California’s legal industry.

That is bad lawyers. There are unquestionably an appreciable number of attorneys in the state who defraud and otherwise underserve their clients, and the bar now has a streamlined mission to focus on and appropriately discipline them.

We’ll take a closer look at that in our next blog post.