Thursday, February 12, 2009
State Bar Board of Governors Race Draws Two Candidates
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Two local attorneys yesterday said yesterday they will run for a seat on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Patrick M. Kelly, the western region managing partner for Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, and Century City solo practitioner Marty O’Toole both confirmed that they will be seeking the one available seat for District 7.
District 7 represents of all of Los Angeles County and has a total of five lawyer representatives on the board.
Nominating petitions became available on February 2 and are due by April 1. The State Bar said it could not confirm whether any other candidates have submitted petitions to enter the race.
This election marks O’Toole’s third attempt to join the board, but he suggested “maybe I’ll have a chance to pull it out this time.”
O’Toole ran in 2005, finishing third in a four-candidate race won by current State Bar President Holly Fujie, and also ran last year, losing to Los Angeles attorney James Aguirre.
He said his campaign would be based on his critique of the disciplinary system, as was each of his prior bids.
“I think it’s a winning message,” he said. “It may just take some time for it to resonate more broadly.”
The attorney maintained that the “State Bar’s primary mission is to deal with attorneys when they’re acting as attorneys,” and that the organization “spends to much money on issues that concern attorney’s private lives.”
For example, O’Toole claimed that much attorney discipline dealing with attorney-client trust issues are caused by bank errors.
“I think that the default for the bar should be to first see if it’s a banking issue before time and resources are devoted to determining what happened,” he said.
Issues that affect clients should be more important than issues that do not, or only affect them in “an indirect or tangential way,” O’Toole insisted. “What people do in their own time, unless it can be shown that it directly affects a client, should be less or a priority as what you are doing as an attorney, while acting as an attorney.”
O’Toole graduated from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. and was admitted to the State Bar in 1992.
He is a member of the Irish American Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Santa Monica Bar Association.
Although O’Toole said he has not yet picked up his nominating petition, Kelly said he is circulating his now and will be presenting it to the Breakfast Club—a dues-paid organization open to any lawyer practicing within Los Angeles County whose primary function is to endorse candidates for the Board of Governors.
Kelly touted his lengthy career of service in state and local bar matters over the past 39 years, maintaining that his experience “has been guiding me towards having a role in the State Bar where I can really help and really make a difference.”
The former Los Angeles County Bar Association president was the founder and first chair of the LACBA’s minority employment outreach committee. “A focal point of everything I do is to provide equal access,” he said. “The Bar cannot let up on reaching out to all members of our community.”
The attorney was also an attorney member of the Commission on Judicial Performance and chair of its Rules Committee.
“I have an intense interest in the independence of the judiciary and the security of our judicial system by competent and effective judges,” Kelly said. “It’s critical to our society to have a good judicial system.”
Opining that one of the roles of a Board of Governors member is to effectively communicate the message of the bar, Kelly emphasized his experience as the first chair of the editorial board of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine and California Lawyer magazine.
Among the issues he said he would like to address as a member of the board was the impact of the economy on the delivery of legal services, the coordination of member benefits between the state and local bars, and enhancing the level of professionalism among attorneys.
Kelly graduated from Pomona College and Loyola Law School, and was admitted to the State Bar in 1970.
The Board of Governors meets approximately eight times a year to debate organizational, policy and professional issues.
It consists of 15 attorney members elected by their peers in geographic districts. One representative is sent by the California Young Lawyers Association, and one member is the State Bar president.
Four public members are appointed by the governor and one each by the Assembly speaker and the Senate Rules Committee.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company