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CPIL Featured in Sacramento Bee Editorial on Their Suggestions to the Legislature Regarding State Bar

CPIL Featured in Sacramento Bee Editorial on Their Suggestions to the Legislature Regarding State Bar

Sacramento (August 31, 2015) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) was highlighted in a Sacramento Bee story highlighting the center's suggestions to the California Legislature regarding changes to the State Bar Association. CPIL, which serves as a center of research and advocacy in regulatory and public interest law, is asking the Legislature to require that the association become subject to the Public Records Act and the state’s open meetings law.

As described in The Recorder, a publication aimed at lawyers, the Assembly Appropriations Committee agreed, and slipped amendments into the dues bill, Senate Bill 387 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. The bar is protesting.

These suggestions come after the California State Auditor revealed in June dysfunction at the bar, including questionable spending and lax discipline of errant attorneys.

The auditor, which concluded that the bar failed to properly report its backlog of discipline cases, counted it at 5,174 as of 2011. The bar helped alleviate the backlog in part by imposing weak sanctions, the audit said.

The California Supreme Court, which reviews attorney discipline cases, took the extraordinary step of rejecting 27 cases because penalties were so limp. Upon further review, the bar increased sanctions in 21 cases, five of which resulted in disbarment.

“Thus, to reduce its backlog, the State Bar allowed some attorneys whom it otherwise might have disciplined more severely—or even disbarred—to continue practicing law, placing the public at risk,” the audit said.

The audit also found that the bar bought and renovated a downtown Los Angeles building at a cost of $76.6 million, $50 million more than what it told the Legislature the building would cost.

Unlike state boards that oversee doctors, nurses, dentists and other professions, the State Bar functions as a trade association for lawyers and regulates them. The editorial states that this is an inherent conflict and adding to the insider nature, 13 of 19 members on the board are attorneys; only six are public members.

CPIL suggests ending the attorney majority on the bar board, and eliminating provisions allowing for the election of six of the 13 lawyer board members. 

Read the full story on sacbee.com.

About the Center for Public Interest Law

Founded in 1980, the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) serves as an academic center of research and advocacy in regulatory and public interest law. CPIL focuses its efforts on the study of an extremely powerful, yet often overlooked, level of government: state regulatory agencies. Under the supervision of experienced public interest attorneys and advocates, CPIL law student interns study California agencies that regulate business, professions, and trades.

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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Center for Public Interest Law
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5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 260-4806
Fax: (619) 260-4753
info@cpil.org

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