Kerry Goff Aug. 28, 2016, 7:37pm

SAN FRANCISCO – President of the State Bar of California David Pasternak identified areas of needed improvement in a recent article in the California Bar Journal.

As the 91st president, Pasternak helps oversee more than a quarter-million licensed lawyers in California, which is the largest State Bar in the country. Because the organization has grown considerably, there are several growing pains that need to be remedied.

“The statutory governance task force held its final meeting on July 22, 2016, after meeting seven times starting in December 2015 and heard input from some 30 individuals,” he said. “At its final meeting, the seven trustee members of the task force agreed on the content of its final report, with all members agreeing that various governance changes should be considered and implemented.”

Pasternak explained that the task force report, which was released at the beginning of August, covered several issues that merited improvement, including the perception of an ineffectively managed discipline system, inadequate definitions of mission and public protection, proliferation of activities that move the mission out of scope and a conflicting hybrid governance structure.

He also said the committee agreed that the State Bar struggled with confusing reporting relationships that hinder accountability, a rapid increase of committees, boards and commissions, restricted funding sources, inadequate development for human resources and inadequate funding.

Most of the issues Pasternak listed deal with a lack of communication within the organization, with a few negative public perceptions that need repair. He explained how the State Bar planned to address each problem.

“The task force unanimously supported a line of succession for State Bar board leadership, enhanced orientation and training for trustees, and better defining of the State Bar's mission of public protection,” he said.

On more touchy issues, like de-unification of the State Bar, there were various levels of support for implementing new changes while some older issues were still not repaired.

“Meanwhile, discussions are continuing between the two legislative houses, together with the Supreme Court, about the contents of this year's fee bill,” he said. “All of the State Bar's many stakeholders, including California's lawyers and the legal services community, should be interested in these related events.”

Despite many needed changes, Pasternak is confident that the State Bar is moving in the right direction to between serving its members and the public.

“It is quite clear that tomorrow's State Bar will not be the same as last generation’s State Bar,” he said. “But I have little doubt that as the result of these joint efforts involving the Legislature, the Supreme Court, the board of trustees and our invaluable State Bar staff, tomorrow's State Bar will be even more effective in achieving its mission of public protection.”

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State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

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