CPIL’s Ed Howard Quoted in Recorder Article on California State Bar Audit

CPIL’s Ed Howard Quoted in Recorder Article on California State Bar Audit

Sacramento (June 19, 2015) – Ed Howard, senior counsel and senior policy analyst for University of San Diego (USD) School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), was quoted in a Recorder article reporting on the weak reactions to the recent California State Bar audit. 

California's State Bar has been awash in troubling news for the last eight months, starting with the firing of executive director Joe Dunn in November and continuing this week with the release of an eyebrow-raising audit. It has also been accused of falsifying financial records, lying to the legislature, and failing to protect the public. Reactions by those who could take action have, so far, ranged from measured expressions of concern to total silence.

The article argues that Governor Jerry Brown hasn't taken much interest in the bar's operations. He has four appointments to the bar's board of trustees and only in March named his first representative. The court has also taken a hands-off approach, despite the state constitution defining the bar as an administrative arm of the Supreme Court.

Bar trustees terminated Dunn after an internal investigation concluded he had misled them on key policy issues and spent dues money on questionable expenses. But a damning report by state auditor Elaine Howle paints a picture of trustees who are out of the loop on important bar decisions, including the purchase of a pricey office complex in Los Angeles. Bar president Craig Holden's recommendation in December that an independent commission be formed to review bar operations was shot down by his follow trustees, who argued that such a move would amount to a "capitulation to the drama."

The Legislature, so far, has done nothing to address the bar's problems. This year's annual dues bill, the traditional vehicle for any legislative mandates affecting the bar, contains boilerplate language addressing fee levels but little else.

The bar is "guilty of astonishing fiscal mismanagement, guilty of letting lawyers get off with slaps on the wrist just to reduce its disciplinary backlog, guilty of failing consumers and lawyers in the worst ways possible," said Howard, a USD expert on regulatory enforcement. "But this audit is also an accusation against every elected and judicial official who for far too long allowed the controversy-hounded bar to flounder."

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About Ed Howard

A recognized expert in regulatory and administrative law, Ed Howard is the senior counsel and legislative advocate for both the Children’s Advocacy Institute and Center for Public Interest Law at USD School of Law. His expertise in California legislative politics and policy stems from years as special counsel and chief policy advisor to a California state senator and as chief consultant of two standing California legislative committees. During his years as a staffer in the Legislature, he spearheaded the enactment of numerous and nationally trend-setting laws in the areas of privacy, technology, IT procurement, the regulation of licensed professions, health care, and consumer rights.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Celebrating 60 years of alumni and student success, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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