State Bar Reform

CPIL professional staff and student interns have attended the State Bar of California’s meetings and followed its activities for over 35 years. From 1987 to 1992, CPIL’s Executive Director Robert C. Fellmeth served as the State Bar Discipline Monitor (under then-Business and Professions Code section 6086.9), under appointment by then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp, with CPIL serving as the Monitor’s staff. The State Bar Discipline Monitor position was created by the Legislature and — over the course of almost five years—CPIL wrote eleven reports on the operation of the State Bar’s discipline system. CPIL worked with Senator Robert Presley and a succession of State Bar Presidents to fashion some 40 reforms of the system, including the passage of Senate Bill 1498 (Presley), 1988 legislation creating the current independent State Bar Court.

CPIL participated actively in the proceedings and deliberations of the 2010 Governance in the Public Interest Task Force, whose work culminated in the Legislature’s passage of SB 163 (Evans) (Chapter 417, Statutes of 2011). And CPIL was equally involved in the more recent Governance in the Public Interest Task Force proceedings in 2015-2017.

Many of the reforms CPIL has advocated for over the years have become a reality with the Legislature’s passage of SB 36 (Jackson) (Chapter 422, Statutes of 2017), resulting in a “deunified” bar, and a Board of Trustees now entirely focused on regulating the profession and protecting the public. CPIL continues to strongly advocate for increased transparency and accountability at the Bar so that the Bar may succeed in its core mission of protecting the public from unethical and incompetent attorneys in California.

CPIL’s efforts to reform the State Bar include: