Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Breakfast Club Endorses Marcus, Heinke for State Bar Board
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus and former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Rex S. Heinke yesterday won the backing of the Breakfast Club for seats on the State Bar Board of Governors.
The club endorsed Marcus and Heinke, both first-time candidates, after they emerged as the top two vote-getters on a ballot that also included James H. Aguirre of Richardson, Bambrick, Cermak and Fair. If elected, they will succeed current District Seven representatives Jo-Ann Grace and Marguerite Downing, who are set to conclude their three-year terms this summer and will then be eligible to run for State Bar president.
Marcus, 65, told the group of about 35 members who attended the early morning meeting in downtown Los Angeles that his top three priorities as a State Bar governor would be to further President Sheldon Sloan’s civility standards, improve the attorney discipline process, and help revise the rules of professional conduct. He called his professional experience and commitment to public service as “ideal qualities” for the job.
Currently a mediator and arbitrator with ADR Services, Marcus was previously a State Bar Court judge from 1995 to 2001, most recently serving as supervising judge of the court’s hearing department. During his tenure, he presided over approximately 160 court trials and wrote decisions containing findings of fact and conclusions of law for each case.
His knowledge and understanding of the attorney discipline process will be “extremely helpful” in helping to improve the system, he said, an important aim since disciplinary issues consume most of the governors’ energies and members’ dues. Specifically, he said, his background in attorney discipline and ethics would help the board in its analysis of proposed wholesale revisions to the rules of professional conduct—the revisions, currently being written by a 15-member commission, will likely be sent to the governors for review in the next two years.
Marcus highlighted his 27 years’ experience as a trial lawyer who has worked on “every conceivable kind of case” in both criminal and civil law and from both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ side.
A prosecutor from 1968 to 1985, he held supervisory posts in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Beverly Hills and Santa Monica branch offices and served as senior trial deputy for three years in the Office’s consumer and environment protection division. In private practice, he worked as of counsel to the Encino-based Sanger, Grayson, Givner & Brooke from 1985 to 1987 and as a partner in Coleman & Marcus from 1987 to 1995.
Additionally, he has taught evidence and other subjects at numerous law schools locally, including USC Law School and Southwestern, and has published articles on mediation and arbitration, attorney discipline, litigation practice, and evidence.
The nominee expressed a strong commitment to the issue of civility, and noted he is currently writing a book on the topic that is set to be released next year through West Publishing.
With regard to public service, he underscored his commitment to the Los Angeles County and American Bar Associations, along with the State Bar, and his current service on this city’s Ethics Commission. He added that as mediator and arbitrator, he has performed over 150 pro bono mediations
Like Marcus, Heinke told Breakfast Club members he would bring a breadth of experience and commitment to public service to the board of governors. In addition, he said he desired to increase the State Bar’s ability to listen and dialogue with members and the public on issues including diversity in the bench and bar, access to justice, and compensation for the judiciary.
Currently a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld—he heads the firm’s national appellate and litigation strategy group and its local litigation practice—Heinke has been a lawyer in Los Angeles for 30 years and said he “understand[s]” the practice of law locally and statewide.
The 56-year-old Heinke, who specializes in First Amendment issues but covers a wide range of other areas including intellectual property, employment and corporate law, added that he also understands judges’ perspectives because he has served on the Judicial Council and because his wife, Margaret Nagle, is a U.S. magistrate judge.
Heinke told club members he was very interested in pro bono work, citing for example his involvement with the Children’s Law Center, and said there was a serious need for attorneys to increase their involvement in public service.
“I think the profession has become much too focused on money,” he said. “We need to everything we can to get lawyers involved in public service whether that’s pro bono, bar activities or community activities to demonstrate that lawyers and the law aren’t only about the money we can make…but in the end, the bar and lawyers need a higher purpose, and that higher purpose is to serve the public.”
In addition to his term as LACBA president in 2000-01, Heinke has served on a State Bar advisory committee to review the rules and procedures of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation commission, the California Supreme Court’s Task Force on Multi-Jurisdictional Practice. He also served as president of Public Counsel and for four years as a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
Breakfast Club Chair Victor Santochi said the election was “very, very, very close” and said he hoped to see strong candidates for the two District Seven seats set to open up next year, when governors Holly J. Fujie and John P. McNicholas finish their terms.
Aguirre, 54, told the MetNews after the meeting that while he will not run without the Breakfast Club’s endorsement this year, he will return again next year to seek the club’s support.
“I believe in what the Breakfast Club is doing in terms of recruiting strong leadership for the Bar,” he said, noting that despite his decision not to run this year, he would remain actively involved in the State Bar as a member of its Committee of Bar Examiners.
The lawyer, whose firm is house counsel to the Automobile Club of Southern California, almost sought the Breakfast Club’s support for a seat last year but withdrew his candidacy citing his involvement with the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, which he chaired in 2005.
Yesterday’s meeting also included remarks by Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick, a recently appointment public member of the Board of Governors, and entertainment lawyer Nancy L. McCullough, who is the national director of a committee supporting the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, her former Harvard Law School and Harvard Law Review colleague.
The Breakfast Club, nearly 40 years old, is open on a dues-paid basis to any lawyer practicing within Los Angeles County. Its primary function is to endorse candidates for the Board of Governors.
The last six District Seven representatives to be elected have been Breakfast Club nominees. The club re-asserted its domination in the process after two years in which self-described “outsider” candidates defeated three of the club’s nominees.
District Seven covers Los Angeles County and has five of the 23 seats on the board.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company