Friday, November 21, 2008
State Bar to Meet With Associations on ‘Find a Lawyer’ Service
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Representatives of voluntary bar associations and the State Bar Board of Governors will meet today in San Francisco to discuss the associations’ concerns with the State Bar’s efforts to initiate a new “Find a Lawyer” service, a Los Angeles County Bar Association spokesperson said yesterday.
Although LACBA opposes the State Bar’s proposal to launch a website allowing members of the public to search an online directory for an attorney, State Bar President Holly Fujie told the association’s Board of Trustees during her appearance as a guest speaker at a meeting Wednesday evening that she believes the State Bar will move forward.
“It is difficult for lay people to find a lawyer,” she said. “I do think searchability is going to happen, it’s just a question of how it’s going to happen.”
LACBA’s chief marketing officer, Tim Elliott, told the MetNews that most voluntary bar associations oppose the State Bar’s proposal, mostly because they all offer lawyer referral services which provide more assistance than an online directory.
“We take hundreds of thousands of calls,” he said, although he added that many callers do not need attorneys.
Elliott explained that that the association helps callers who do need attorneys to select the type they need, and then refers them to a member attorney, and expressed concern that a “Yellow Pages service” will not service the needs of the public the way the association’s referral service does.
He also said that the State Bar has oversight of the voluntary bar associations’ referral services and impose standards they have to meet, but the State Bar’s website would “open it up for a free for all.”
LACBA President Danette E. Meyers told trustees at the close of Wednesday’s meeting that she too believed the State Bar would move forward, but cautioned, “we’re going to go down with a fight.”
In other news, trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve a proposed 2009 budget that would postpone the association’s creation of a diversity department, and impose a salary freeze for staff and a moratorium on capital asset purchases, but which would not require any layoffs.
Treasurer Linda L. Curtis said that the association has lost approximately $2.3 million in its investment stock portfolio due to the falling stock market, but Associate Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer Bruce Berra said the association will not be increasing membership dues or making significant cuts in existing programs despite the financial setback.
Trustees also voted unanimously to support the county’s petition to the California Supreme Court for review of the First District Court of Appeal’s decision in Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles holding that the county’s payments of extra benefits to its judges was unconstitutional, and to submit an amicus brief in support of the State Bar’s opposition to UCLA Professor Richard Sander’s request for bar exam applicant data filed in Sander v. State Bar of California.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company