Thursday, July 29, 2010
State Bar Names Starr Babcock General Counsel
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California yesterday named Starr Babcock, a member of the groupís senior management team for more than a decade, as its general counsel.
Babcock, who earlier worked in the State Barís Office of General Counsel for six years, was hired for the groupís top legal job by the Board of Governors and will assume the post Aug. 9.
The State Barís 19-person legal department has a $4 million annual budget.
Babcock currently serves as the senior executive of member services, where he oversees 60 employees and a $40 million-plus budget. He also manages the State Barís insurance programs, legal services, outreach to other bar associations, the continuing education program and assistance for attorneys with substance abuse problems.
Prior to his current activities, he served as a special assistant to Executive Director Judy Johnson, where he acted as the State Barís liaison with the Supreme Court.
ďStarr will be a wonderful general counsel,Ē State Bar President Howard Miller said. ďHe is highly knowledgeable about legal issues involving the bar, has great experience within the bar and will bring an important element of stability in the midst of increasing evolutionary change.Ē
Upon assuming the post, Babcock will soon be working with a new president. San Francisco attorney Bill Hebert was elected to become the State Barís 2010-2011 president on Saturday, and is set to be sworn in at the groupís September annual meeting in Monterey.
Babcock will also soon be working with a new group of bar executives, as the jobs of executive director, chief trial counsel and chief information officer remain open. Longtime trial attorney James E. Towery, who served as State Bar president in 1995-96, was appointed last month as chief trial counsel, but that appointment remains subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
Former AOC Attorney
Babcock has spent most of his career working with either the State Bar or the Administrative Office of the Courts and said the new post is a logical next step that enables him to continue in the public service arena.
ďIím grateful and honored by the opportunity to serve as the State Barís general counsel and to assist the board of governors in its work and mission,Ē he said. ďIíve had the privilege of working in the judicial branch for the past 20 years at both the State Bar and the AOC and believe that experience will serve me well in leading the Office of General Counsel.Ē
Between stints at the State Bar, Babcock was managing attorney from 1996-2000 at the AOCís Office of the General Counsel, with oversight responsibility for all litigation affecting the Judicial Council, the AOC, the appellate courts and justices, and trial courts, judges and court employees. He managed a series of AOC initiatives, including simplified jury instructions, compliance with trial court funding and the unification of Californiaís municipal and superior courts, and development of a statewide approach to litigation management.
In 2007, he was appointed by Senior U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson as a pro bono mediator and special assistant to the federal court in its efforts to insure adequate health care in Californiaís prisons. The same year, Chief Justice Ronald George named Babcock to a task force that recommended ways to improve the selection and retention of judges.
He also was a member of a Supreme Court committee that reviewed a proposal to transfer the State Barís discipline system to the Supreme Court, and he served on the Committee of Bar Examiners.
A graduate of Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, Babcock received his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center and joined the State Bar in 1975. A resident of San Francisco, he is married to Margo M. Leahy, a physician, and the couple has two children.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company