Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Sheldon H. Sloan Elected President of State Bar
By MICHAEL A. PIEKARZ, Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO—Former Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Sheldon H. Sloan has been elected to succeed James Heiting as president of the State Bar of California.
Sloan defeated Oakland Deputy City Attorney Demetrius Sheldon in a second round of voting at Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting. Fresno attorney Paul Hokokian was eliminated on the first ballot.
Vote totals were not announced.
Sloan, of counsel to Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, represents clients doing business with, or regulated by, government agencies. A graduate of USC Law School, he has served on the Judicial Council of California and as president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
“I’m honored that members of the Board of Governors have seen fit to entrust me with the privilege of becoming president,” Sloan said in brief remarks following the vote. “I look forward to helping lead the bar into the future and will do whatever I can to live up to the board’s confidence in me.”
Sloan said hopes to lead by example as president and believes that leadership by consensus and example is key, stating “A good president can lead by logic and persuasion” rather than by edict, he said.
The president-elect cited several areas he expects to emphasize during his term of office, including promotion of diversity, increasing the level of civility and professionalism of members of the bar, and serving the public.
Sloan said he would prioritize the “pipeline program,” an ambitious effort to convince young people to seek out legal careers.
“The pipeline involves a lot of outreach efforts done through the creation of model programs,” Sloan explained. “People who are less advantaged economically are the target of the pipeline. We need to give hope and education, which cuts across ethnicity.”
Sloan also talked of the need for increased professionalism.
“I’m very concerned about civility,” said Sloan. “It involves things such as setting depositions when it is known that opposing counsel is on vacation and papering people to death. It costs the client money and it degrades the profession.”
The State Bar needs a voluntary pledge of professionalism, Sloan declared, citing the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s code as a model.
The main function of the State Bar, protection of the public, is on the right course, Sloan said, although steps need to be taken to ensure that disciplinary cases do not “fall through the cracks.”
In remarks prior to the vote, Hokokian noted that he is the board’s only second-term attorney member. Consecutive terms are prohibited by law, but the Fresno lawyer returned to the board three years ago after serving from 1997 to 2000.
Only board members who are in the last year of a term can run for president. Although public members are eligible, none has ever been elected president and none has run in the last several years.
Hokokian urged members to consider his “experience in dealing with the bar during periods of crisis”—a reference to his having been on the board when then-Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the State Bar dues bill, forcing the organization to lay off hundreds of employees and seek a Supreme Court order assessing attorneys to pay for the costs of the discipline system.
He promised to “go forward and make progress” with existing plans, including the pipeline program, and not to seek to implement ambitious new programs.
Shelton noted his involvement in a number of bar groups and promised to promote diversity, oversee a comprehensive review of existing rules, and to “enhance the profession and protect the public.”
Sloan’s remarks before the vote were extremely brief. “I think everybody can read,” he said, in reference to a statement he mailed to the other board members on June 6 in which he laid out his goals for the presidency.
A Republican and active supporter of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he said in his letter that he was “well situated to work with the legislature and the Governor’s office to again attempt to pass another two-year [dues] bill.” He also cited his close friendship with Chief Justice Ronald M. George, with whom he served on the Municipal Court, and said he would ask board members to “do whatever they can” to assist the chief justice’s agenda of judicial independence, including independent funding of the judiciary.
In speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sloan said he hoped to “lead by logic and persuasion.” Trying “to lead by edict,” he said, “would be like trying to herd cats.”
Sloan’s term will run for a year and begins in October at the State Bar’s annual meeting in Monterey.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company