Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

State Bar Pays Employees Lavish Salaries

Pays 13 Executives More than Gov. Jerry Brown.


The State Bar, perhaps California's most useless and anachronistic organ, overpays its leaders and its recent financial reports "contained errors and lacked transparency." This according to a new Audit released Thursday.

The review, released by State Auditor Elaine Howle, says the top 13 executives at the bar are paid more than Gov. Jerry Brown, who takes home $182,791 a year. This in addition to lavish pensions, full medical and dental coverage, travel expenses, and other stuff you can only dream about.

The State Bar is a "Public Corporation" created in 1927, it's organizational structure inspired by Lenin's Soviet Communist Party. In 1927, that was viewed as a really progressive way to organize a guild.

The California Bar does little but discipline 200,000 lawyers, force them to join and pay membership dues, and compensate victims of attorney misconduct, which means it has very little to do really. It only disciplines attorneys who represent poor people; never those who represent big corporations. It forces attorneys to take "continuing education of the bar" courses in feminist theory, transgender sensitivity training, and other leftist topics.

It reported an estimated backlog of 5,500 applications for payment and an expected shortfall of more than $16 million in a fund to settle the claims at the end of last year. The audit found that victims wait as long as five years before they receive any reimbursement.

"The State Bar's long delays in paying claims harm the people who are waiting and who may be counting on these resources to meet basic needs," the report stated.

The audit raises new questions about an agency already mired in controversy and doubts about its continued existence.

The State Bar fired its former director, Joe Dunn, in 2014. Being a lawyer, Dunn turned around and sued the agency he previously headed (I know Joe Dunn--he's an honest and decent man. He is not the left wing ideologue more typically employed by the CSB). Dunn, who is vying for a congressional seat, claimed his dismissal was a form of retaliation for whistleblowing. The State Bar fired back with an investigative report earlier this year that claimed Dunn provided misleading financial information to deceive the agency's 19-member board.

In addition to other problems, the audit highlighted errors and a lack of basic information on executive salary in previous financial reports from the State Bar. It also failed to explain its budget methodology to the Legislature, which hinders lawmakers' ability to set appropriate attorney-licensing dues, according to the report.

In a response letter to the audit, the State Bar's current executive director, Elizabeth Parker, said the final report "offers a meaningful and balanced analysis of the myriad of issues facing the State Bar from which we can benefit, going forward." Meaning, of course, that she intends to totally ignore it.

Parker, who joined the agency in the fall, complained that the report didn't clearly distinguish problems that stemmed from past leadership with her efforts to address "a host of long-standing organizational, operational and fiscal challenges."

What really needs to happen is the State Bar needs to be dismantled. Attorneys should be disciplined by the Department of Consumer Affairs, the same State agency that disciplines every profession from chiropractors to contractors. Why should Attorneys be treated differently?

90 years is enough. State legislators, if you're listening, it's time to revoke the Bar's independent charter, and discipline attorneys like any other profession. The people of California deserve no less.

Some facts in this article borrowed from the Sacramento Bee:


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