CPIL's Ed Howard Quoted in Recorder Article on Measures to Improve State Bar of California

CPIL's Ed Howard Quoted in Recorder Article on Measures to Improve State Bar of California

Sacramento, Calif. (July 14, 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 a half-dozen recently approved measures to improve oversight of the State Bar of California, including another audit of the agency.

Members of the Judiciary Committee, many of them attorneys themselves, stopped short of amending the annual bar dues bill to restructure the board of trustees or to mandate new transparency rules, as critics had sought.

The annual bar dues bill is typically a sedate piece of legislation authorizing the amount lawyers will pay in the coming year to renew their licenses. That was certainly the case with this year's bill. As introduced, SB 387 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, maintained dues for active members at $390.

The state auditor released a blistering review of the state bar in June that concluded the agency had cut questionable deals with lawyers under investigation to reduce its disciplinary caseload. The audit also found that the bar officials had misled the Legislature about the true cost of the new Los Angeles building—$75 million—and shifted money among various unrelated accounts to pay for it.

Jackson amended her bill this week to force the bar to provide more specifics about the backlog of discipline cases and complaints against nonlawyers accused of practicing law. She will also seek a workforce staffing plan and a spending plan from the agency, a response to audit findings that the bar appeared to be collecting more operating money than it needs. The amendments also call for another state audit, to be completed by May 2016, that will review how the bar spends its money.

The Center for Public Interest Law, a frequent critic of bar governance, lobbied for stronger amendments, including the elimination of the six elected attorney positions on the board of trustees and moving the bar's disciplinary functions to the attorney general's office. The center's lobbyist, Howard, a USD expert on regulatory enforcement, accused the bar of "repeatedly" breaking the law by failing to comply with existing, limited rules mandating open records and open meetings.

"This bill does not deserve to leave this committee without significant amendments changing the basic underlying governance structure of the bar," Howard said.

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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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