Monday, November 20, 2006
State Bar Governors Consolidate Five Constituent Access Committees
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar Board of Governors Friday decided to consolidate five constituent access committees into a single entity as part of its Pipeline Project, rejecting a request from the San Diego County Bar Association for more time to allow members to voice their concerns.
The board, meeting in San Francisco, overwhelmingly approved a proposal to eliminate committees on ethnic minority relations, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, women in the law, legal professionals with disabilities and senior lawyers, and replace them with a single Council on Access & Fairness.
The council would be charged with advancing the goal of the Pipeline Project, which is to increase the presence of all segments of California’s population in the bar and the bench, especially groups that traditionally have not fully participated.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and MetNews Co-Publisher Jo-Ann W. Grace were the only board members to vote against the proposal.
In a letter e-mailed to board members Thursday, SDCBA President Andrew S. Albert said that “several of [his association’s] constituent groups have expressed great concern over the proposal.”
He explained that “[w]hile SDCBA remains supportive of the Pipeline Project, we are concerned that there has not been adequate opportunity for interested parties to provide input to the Board of Governors on the proposal”
Patricia Lee, of the State Bar’s Office of Legal Services, Access and Fairness Programs, said the board decided to go forward with creation of the council and to sunset the other committees. They will have until March to wind down their operations, she said.
It’s a budgetary and a staffing issue, Lee explained. The funds for the committees come from members’ voluntary donations, and are thus limited. A lot of efficiency can be had from having a single staff, rather than five, she said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company