Thursday, May 17, 2007
Board Candidates Not Seeking Bar Association Endorsements
By a MetNews Staff Writer
All but one of the contenders in the Los Angeles County race for the State Bar Board of Governors said they have not sought formal endorsements from local bar associations up to this point in the race.
Except for Office 2 hopeful Darold M. Shirwo—who has not returned repeated MetNews phone calls for over a week—the District Seven candidates said their approach to campaigning has focused on word of mouth since ballots for the election were mailed out two weeks ago.
A number of the county’s community and special-interest bar groups have, in the past, endorsed candidates for election to the board. But while the Breakfast Club, which exists primarily to endorse candidates for the board, has made its choices known, none of the candidates say they are seeking backing of other organizations, and some specifically said they do not intend to.
Office 1 candidate James H. Park, a business litigator who is of counsel to Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley, described his activities as “grassroots” in nature and said he has chosen to avoid organizational endorsements in order to underscore his platform of “working together through diversity to reach a common goal.”
“I know that [District 7] is diverse and 40,000 members isn’t any particular minority group, so I’ve tried to reach out to all members of the bar,” Park said, citing opportunities to speak to presidents and representatives of numerous organizations—for example the Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers’ executive committee, which he addressed yesterday.
In addition to his efforts to contact “as many people as possible” directly, Park said his firm has been standing behind him:
“I’ve received the support of all the attorneys in the Los Angeles office and their contacts as well as references to other firms they have connections or relationships with. The firm has been very supportive in my candidacy in terms of affording me time and resources to pursue this office.”
Retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus, also running for Office 1, said he has not made any bar association appearances yet and planned to “play it by ear.”
“I will make myself available to talk to people, go to events as part of my interest in the bar, and when I’m there I’ll talk to people and hopefully they’ll vote for me.”
Saying he has been communicating with State Bar members primarily by e-mail, he added:
“If everyone votes for me who said they voted for me, I’ll be elected president of the United States.”
Marcus and fellow Breakfast Club-endorsed candidate Rex Heinke recently had their names displayed on an electronic banner ad paid for by the club. The advertisement, which ran several times over the last few weeks and is set to run again prior to the balloting deadline, was e-mailed to LACBA’s 27,000 members along with daily case summaries sent out by the association.
Breakfast Club President Victor Santochi last week told the MetNews the club has also been promoting its endorsed candidates through “extensive e-mailing” to firms and local bar organizations within Los Angeles County.
Licensed private investigator and non-practicing attorney Jeffrey P. Lustman, who seeks to beat out Park and Marcus for Office 1, said he has not attended any bar functions and was not engaged in personal outreach efforts.
“People can tell what I believe in by what is set out in the 250-word statement on the State Bar ballot and the 500-word statement posted on the [Bar’s web site],” he said.
Noting he has not been invited to speak to professional organizations, he remarked:
“Frankly, Michael Marcus is the establishment candidate. I’m the anti-establishment candidate so I guess you’d have to get some aging hippies to invite me to something. It’s going to be let the chips fall where they may.”
Lustman said he has recently included his 250-word candidate statement with some of the flyers he has sent to law firms promoting his investigation business.
All three Office One candidates said they have received positive feedback on their platforms.
“People are exhibiting interest,” Park said. “I think they can have confidence in my ability to be a representative of a practitioner from a solo proprietor perspective all the way to a firm perspective. I think in terms of my broad experience and as an actual practitioner currently, that I can be a representative for those people who are in practice and understand their issues.”
Marcus, who has said his top three priorities as a Bar Board of Governors member would be to further President Sheldon Sloan’s civility standards, improve the attorney discipline process, and help revise the rules of professional conduct, said he has received “a lot of favorable comments.”
Lustman said he has received “generally positive” e-mails from people saying they would vote for him.
“Not all of them agree with my MCLE position,” he noted, referring to his proposal that continuing education requirements for attorneys be abolished, which would require legislative approval.
The thrust of Lustman’s platform is the improvement of the State Bar’s attorney discipline system, which he encountered firsthand last September when publicly reproved for writing a threatening letter to justices from Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner Heinke, who is running for Office 2, said his campaign activities so far have been focused on reaching out to attorneys he knows.
“I’ve been sending a number of emails and asking them to of course vote for me and asking them to circulate emails,” the former LACBA president said.
Heinke, who has said he hopes to get the State Bar to remind attorneys of their “higher purpose” of public service, commented the response to him has been “very positive.”
Entertainment merchandising and licensing lawyer Thomas Dover, also vying for Office 2, said—like Park—that he has chosen a grassroots approach to outreach.
“Most of my activities have been generated in a non-association-specific way, meaning [through] relationships with various law firms, in-house counsel, et cetera,” he explained. “Going to the associations from my point of view, was not in keeping with what I hope to bring ot the bar, which is a diversity. I think the associations tend to support their own.”
Dover, who has said he wants to advance “earned respect” through “education, enforcement, and common sense civility,” added his candidacy has been met with a “great” response.
“I had several sort of private meetings in the last couple of weeks, and they’re getting larger and more frequent,” he remarked.
Shirwo, a juvenile delinquency and dependency lawyer, said in a previous MetNews interview that his decision to run for Office 2 was “sort of a fluke.”
“I just happened to see that there was an open seat in Los Angeles, and decided that at 67 years old, maybe I can use my expertise to further the interests of the State Bar,” he remarked after declaring his candidacy for the post.
Ballots for the Board of Governors election are required to be postmarked no later than July 2 and received no later than July 9, when the State Bar will begin its four-day canvassing process.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company