Did You Notice?
California Lawyer

Did You Notice?

June 2014

Your state bar card proclaims a new motto this year. The bar now avows that "Protection of the public is the highest priority for the State Bar of California," while its old motto was to "Preserve and improve our justice system in order to assure a free and just society under law."

Will anyone notice? "I suspect probably not," says bar CEO Joseph L. Dunn.

But that doesn't mean the change isn't important. It reflects the intent of a 2011 bill that sought to clarify that the prime mission of the 250,000-member organization is to regulate lawyers. The bill, SB163, also set an October 2014 deadline for changing the composition of the bar's board (and cutting it from 23 members to 19), and it mandated more planning, plus policies to comply with open-meeting laws.

Dunn says the "sharpened focus" already has helped the organization internally. He also hopes to clarify that the bar doesn't represent lawyers. It's the State Bar of California, he stresses, not the California Bar Association.

Dunn concedes that public awareness "of our very existence" isn't high. He hopes the new motto on bar cards will help change that. And, just in case there's an audience for a big-print version, the new motto is now inscribed on the bar's office building in Los Angeles.

Reader Comments

Michael Kennedy - June 2, 2014
Actually, the true mission of the State Bar is like that of all governmental agencies, to expand its turf and budget, and it will broadcast whatever propaganda is necessary to pretend high-minded values for a factually capricious function. The public needs to be protected more from the metastasizing nature of government [of which the State Bar is a quintessential example] than from the comparatively few wayward attorneys who might be around. I expect some Wooley v. Maynard suits to strike the offending sentiment from some attorneys' cards, since we have a First Amendment right to resist being the tools of publication of governmental propaganda.

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