Thursday, March 11, 2004
Tigerman Leaves Post as BHBA Executive Director
By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer
Bert Z. Tigerman, 74, has retired after eight years as executive director of the 73-year-old Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Tigerman retired effective at the end of last month, citing his health and the stress of dealing with the BHBA’s financial crisis. In December the group discovered that nearly all of its assets had been stolen, allegedly by its former controller.
Tigerman said yesterday his doctor told him he needed to find a less stressful activity, and that the BHBA’s financial problems had made him feel his age for the first time.
“I think that kind of pushed it,” he commented by telephone from San Francisco, where he is helping his son, Stephen M. Tigerman of the San Francisco firm Harowitz & Tigerman, wind down the activities of another law office. “You don’t think about how old you are. Inside my head I was still 20 and all of a sudden my body betrayed me.”
BHBA President-Elect Marc R. Staenberg will serve as interim executive director while a national search is conducted for a replacement, the group’s February newletter reported. President Stephen Rohde has selected Marc Sallus, a member of the group’s board, to head a search committee.
A January report to the group’s members estimated the funds lost through the alleged embezzlement at $795,000. The losses included operating funds, reserve funds, and funds of the group’s charitable arm, the Beverly Hill Bar Association Foundation, the report said.
The former employee admitted misappropriating the funds by issuing forged checks to himself over a two-year period to support a gambling habit, the report explained, adding that the employee said he lost all of the money gambling.
Tigerman, who was once married to Justice Miriam Vogel of Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal, served as BHBA president in 1979. He is a longtime delegate to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, representing both the State Bar of California and the BHBA, and is a former president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents.
“I’ve been a bar junkie all my life,” he commented.
He chaired the State Bar Conference of Delegates in 1983 and the State Bar’s Administrative Disciplinary Committee from 1970 to 1972. In 1995 and 1996 he chaired the Finance Committee of the Coalition To Save the Unified Bar during the crisis precipitated by the State Bar’s temporary loss of its legal mandate to collect dues from all of the state’s practicing lawyers.
He served as president of Public Counsel in 1992-93.
Before becoming BHBA executive director in 1996, Tigerman spent 30 years practicing real estate, trusts and estates, and business law, ending as a partner with Turner, Gerstenfeld, Wilk, Tigerman & Young.
The BHBA job was a perfect spot for him, he said.
“I was getting paid to do something I would have done for nothing,” Tigerman declared.
A staff member said Rohde was out of the office yesterday and could not be reached for comment, but in a newsletter article, the BHBA president said Tigerman “began our successful sponsorship program for Sections, initiated the vendor program to provide services and products at discount rates to members, helped design our widely praised website, introduced e-commerce, and increased our membership.”
Stephen Tigerman said his father will spend a few days each week in San Francisco helping to wind up the affairs of The Wartnick Law Firm. Stephen Tigerman and Steven M. Harowitz took over that firm after the death of a former partner, Harry Wartnick.
In an article printed in the group’s newsletter, Staenberg said that despite the financial crisis bar activities have not been “eliminated, cancelled or even scaled back.” The January report said the group has obtained an emergency line of credit to enable it to continue operations.
The former employee signed a confession of judgment, the report said, and attorneys are trying to determine whether any assets exist from which the judgment can be satisfied. Tigerman said BHBA officials have been repeatedly assured by investigators that the arrest of the former controller is “imminent.”
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company