Friday, March 13, 2009
Breakfast Club Unanimously Endorses Patrick M. Kelly
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Breakfast Club yesterday voted unanimously to back former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Patrick M. Kelly of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP for the District Seven seat on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Although nominating petitions are not due until April 1, the club—which has been endorsing Board of Governors candidates in District Seven for nearly four decades—has traditionally endorsed a candidate before the official list of candidates is completed.
Kelly appears to be the only candidate seeking the one available seat on the Board of Governors as Century City solo practitioner Marty O’Toole—the only other attorney who had announced an intention to run—confirmed to the MetNews that he has decided not to enter the race.
After speaking with Kelly, O’Toole said he found they “shared the same values and same sort of principles.”
Calling Kelly a “very, very impressive candidate,” O’Toole said he saw no reason to run against him and plans to support Kelly.
O’Toole has twice unsuccessfully run for a seat on the board based on a platform critiquing the attorney discipline system, and Kelly said that he and O’Toole “are in agreement that the disciplinary system ought to be focusing on things that affect the public.”
As the State Bar is “moving towards a deficit position,” Kelly said it needs to analyze how it is allocating its resources in investigating and addressing attorney misconduct. But he conceded “it may be no changes are necessary and appropriate:”
Nominating petitions became available on February 2, but the State Bar said none have been submitted yet. Kelly said his petition is complete, and he will be filing it as soon as he completes his candidate statement.
Former State Bar President John Van de Kamp of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP provided the introduction for Kelly, a former chair of the Breakfast Club, at yesterday’s meeting.
He told the assemblage of about 25 individuals that Kelly’s candidacy provided them with “an opportunity to add another star” to the Board of Governors, and predicted that Kelly would be “terrific” as a representative.
Van de Kamp opined that it is important for members of the board of governors to have contact with local bar associations “to know what is going on at a local level and how the attorneys the represent feel about the State Bar.”
He noted that Kelly’s resume of community involvement “goes on for almost nine pages.”
When Kelly took the podium, he told the group that his qualifications for office were “evidenced by what I’ve done,” and “all you have to do is look at what I’ve done and you will know what I stand for.”
Kelly served as the president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association from 1990 to 1991 and founded the organization’s minority employment outreach committee. He was also an attorney member of the Commission on Judicial Performance and chair of its Rules Committee.
In addition he has served on the board of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, president of the Coalition for Justice, and chair of the editorial board for the Los Angeles Lawyer magazine and the California Lawyer magazine.
He acknowledged the recent mass layoffs and declining business at many law firms and predicted that the economic downturn “will test…lawyer ethics…and our ability to be true professionals” like he had never seen in his 38-year career.
Kelly insisted the State Bar “needs leadership to hold things together at the high level of professionalism and competence they are now.”
Current Board of Governors member James H. Aguirre of Richardson & Fair said that “the Board of Governors if about leadership…at the highest level of the profession,” predicting that Kelly “is going to fit right in” because he “has been a leader for as long as I’ve been a lawyer, and that’s a long time.” Aguirre has been an attorney for 31 years.
He suggested that Kelly’s lack of apparent opposition was because people recognize Kelly’s qualifications, characterizing it as “a mark of his stature in the profession.”
A graduate of Pomona College and Loyola Law School, Kelly was admitted to the State Bar in 1970. He is also an avid guitar player who has toured with the Beach Boys.
The Breakfast Club 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.
Even though the last eight District Seven representatives to be elected have been Breakfast Club nominees, Kelly said he “can’t safely say the election is over” despite winning the group’s endorsement because other candidates “often come out of the woodwork in single-seat elections.”
He said he will continue to seek more endorsements “to let people know I represent the lawyers of this state and in this district,” and not just the club’s interests.
The State Bar 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. District Seven includes all of Los Angeles County and has five of the 23 seats on the board.
If elected, Kelly will join current District Seven representatives Aguirre; Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela J. Davis; retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus, now a private judge with ADR Services Inc.; and former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Rex S. Heinke of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company