Friday, May 13, 2005
McLeod Says Heiting, Miliband Have Edge in Race for State Bar Presidency
By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer
One of the three candidates to succeed John Van de Kamp as State Bar president stands out from the others, but he said yesterday he is not likely to win.
“I would handicap my chances at less than 50 percent,” San Francisco attorney Roderick A. McLeod said of his bid for the bar’s top post. The bar’s Board of Governors will vote tomorrow to choose a leader for the organization, who will take office at the bar’s convention in San Diego in September.
McLeod has distinguished himself from his opponents, Orange County attorney Joel S. Miliband and Riverside lawyer James O. Heiting, by issuing a call for radical changes in how the organization and its Board of Governors operate.
Among the alterations he advocates:
•A half-hour public comment period to start each board meeting;
•Shorter board and board committee meetings;
•A Web-based job opportunity listing for lawyers patterned on the popular “craigslist”;
•Web-based tracking of MCLE hours; and
•At the State Bar convention, an “open Q&A session of the Board and the staff.”
McLeod, often a voice of dissent during his nearly three years on the board, says the bar has succeeded in fulfilling its statutory duties — disciplining lawyers and regulating admission to the profession — but maintains it can do better at serving its members.
“We need to be more customer oriented,” McLeod contended yesterday, calling the State Bar an “insular organization.”
But he conceded that his colleagues may not be ready to move in a direction as different as the one he advocates, or at least may not want to move as quickly. Miliband and Heiting, he said, do not so much disagree with his ideas as they want to move more cautiously.
“They’re after incremental changes, incremental improvement,” McLeod said, adding that if his board colleagues “want incremental change, I don’t want to play in that sandbox.”
Neither Heiting nor Miliband could be reached for comment yesterday, but all three candidates had an opportunity to describe their qualifications and plans in written statements distributed to their colleagues last week.
Heiting stressed his service under Van de Kamp as chair of the board’s influential Planning, Program Development and Budget Committee, a post which has served as a springboard for presidential ambitions in the past.
Miliband emphasized his numerous local bar group activities and his current service as chair of the Review Committee of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
Some local members of the board said yesterday they remain undecided about how they will vote in the contest. Under board rules, if no candidate receives a majority on the first ballot, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and a new vote is held immediately among the remaining contenders.
McLeod said he has yet to decide for whom he will vote if his is the first candidacy to be eliminated.
Deputy District Attorney Steven J. Ipsen, who is one of five members elected to represent Los Angeles County’s lawyers on the board, said he has not made up his mind.
“I’m rooting for all three,” Ipsen said. “We are in a no-lose situation. Each truly is a good friend.”
Neither Ipsen nor Century City lawyer David Marcus, who also represents Los Angeles County, chose to run for State Bar president this year, though as members completing their third year on the board both were eligible. All three eligible attorney members from outside Los Angeles County elected to compete for the job.
Both Ipsen and Marcus were elected to the board as professed “outsider” candidates.
Anthony Paul Diaz, a lawyer with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office who serves as the representative of the California Young Lawyers Association on the board, said he expects an “extremely close” vote between Heiting and Miliband. He declined to say how he planned to vote, but said he believes Miliband “will do an excellent job as president.”
But Diaz also declined to discount McLeod’s candidacy.
“He might be able to pull it out at the end,” Diaz said.
Miliband, under Van de Kamp, has served since the October convention in Monterey as co-chair with Ipsen of the board’s Regulation, Admissions, and Discipline Oversight Committee. Van de Kamp chaired that panel before winning the presidency in last year’s vote.
Van de Kamp, who represented Los Angeles County lawyers on the board before being elected president, can vote tomorrow only to break a tie.
McLeod, along with public member Janet M. Green, currently chairs the Member Oversight Committee.
Heiting, a former president of the Riverside County Bar Association, said little in his written statement about planned initiatives should he be elected.
Miliband, a former president of the Orange County Bar Association, also called for few changes in the bar’s current direction, much of which is the product of lengthy strategic planning sessions the board conducted last year. He said the PPDB Committee should undertake a review of all of the bar’s programs and panels “to ensure efficient operation and relevance to the membership and the public.”
McLeod is a former president of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company