CPIL's Bob Fellmeth Quoted in SF Chronicle Editorial on New Transparency Rules for CA Bar

CPIL's Bob Fellmeth Quoted in SF Chronicle Editorial on New Transparency Rules for CA Bar

San Francisco (September 3, 2015) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Professor Robert C. Fellmeth was quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle article regarding a recent amendment to Senate Bill 387, which would subject the State Bar of California to the Public Records Act and open meeting laws.

The amendment comes in response to a recent report by the state auditor revealing patterns of excessive spending and inadequate discipline of wayward attorneys. The amendment has promoted a furious lobbying effort by lawyers determined to maintain the status quo.

"I can't tell you how frustrating it is, as an attorney and professor of law, to hear them saying: 'But we're special ... but we're special ... but we're special,” said Fellmeth, executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), the San Diego group behind the amendment.

Fellmeth has been tracking the bar’s activities—or at least to the extent possible against its often secretive ways—for more than three decades. He has grown tired of hearing bar officials insist they are about to make their processes more open. Their latest version of open-records rules, set to take effect in January, includes 19 broad areas of exemption.

The editorial reports that Fellmeth is also fed up with the bar's claim that it's part of the judiciary and thus beyond the jurisdiction of the state Legislature. The article states, "After all, the bar was created by the Legislature. There is no good reason the group that oversees lawyers should be exempt from the transparency rules that apply to boards overseeing doctors, nurses, dentists or other professions."

According to Chronicle editors, "Any notion that the State Bar can police itself was thoroughly debunked by the state audit. The 69-page report detailed how the bar spent more than $75 million buying and restoring a downtown Los Angeles office—triple what its administrators had told legislators it would cost—with dubious financing schemes. It also described how the bar’s frantic rush through a backlog of disciplinary cases resulted in settlements with lawyers who otherwise might have been barred from practicing law."

Read the full article on

About Professor Fellmeth

Robert Fellmeth is the Price Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego School of Law, where he teaches and writes in the areas of children's rights, regulation, antitrust, and consumer law. Professor Fellmeth is also the executive director of both USD’s Center for Public Interest Law and Children's Advocacy Institute.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Celebrating 60 years of alumni 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 81 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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