Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Ex-Sen. Joseph Dunn Named State Bar Executive Director
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The State Bar of California yesterday announced the selection of former state Sen. Joseph L. Dunn as its new executive director.
He is scheduled to begin his service after the State Bar annual convention in Monterey this weekend, subject to the execution of a formal contract for his employment.
Dunn said that he was “honored to have been offered this position” in a statement yesterday, adding:
“My life commitment has been to the legal profession, and there is no better way I can think of to show that commitment than to assist the Board of Governors with its work at the State Bar.”
Chief Justice Ronald M. George also called attention to Dunn’s dedication to the field of law, remarking:
“I don’t know of anyone more committed to improving the administration of justice and to the legal profession and access to justice than Joe Dunn.”
George said Dunn “has proven to be an exceptional friend and supporter of the judicial branch in his capacity as a legislator and as a lawyer, and I am confident he will bring the same degree of commitment and energy to his new duties as executive director of the California Bar.”
The position became available after Judy Johnson, who served as executive director for more than 10 years, announced her resignation this past January.
Outgoing State Bar President Howard Miller opined that Dunn is “superbly qualified” to succeed Johnson, noting Dunn’s “legislative and governmental experience” as a senator as well as his “management experience” having served as CEO and Executive Director of the California Medical Association.
State Bar President-elect Bill Hebert also praised Dunn as “an exceptional candidate” who “stood out” due to his political background, experience with the non-profit CMA, and “his personality and character.”
Dunn is “incredibly thoughtful and considerate,” and inspires trust and confidence in his judgments, statements and decisions,” Hebert said. “He’s got a great reputation and he’s very well respected around the state on both sides of the aisle.”
Hebert added that he was “looking forward to collaborating with Joe, the senior executive team and our legislative affairs team to improve our relationship with all our stakeholders” during his tenure as president.
The “foremost” task facing the State Bar, Hebert explained, is the organization of the Governance in the Public Interest task force, as required by AB 2764. The 11-member board is required to submit a report, on or before May 15, and every three years thereafter, with recommendations for improving the State Bar’s public protection efforts.
Miller posited that “Senator Dunn is the best qualified to help with the dialogue with the Legislature on what those recommendations will be.”
Dunn was a member of the California State Senate from 1998 to 2006, representing the 34th Senate District in central Orange County and led the state’s investigation of the Enron scandal. He also served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his last year in the Legislature, which gave him a position on the state Judicial Council.
Barred by term limits from seeking a third term as a senator, Dunn sought the Democratic nomination for state controller in 2006 but lost to the ultimate winner, John Chiang, in the primary. He went on to spend three years at the helm of the CMA and then established The Senators’ Law Firm with former Sen. Martha M. Escutia in Santa Ana earlier this year.
Dunn was previously a partner in the Newport Beach law firm Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, where he was involved in a number of major tort cases, including suits silicon breast-implant makers, manufacturers of the diet drug Fen-Phen and makers of allegedly defective medical devices.
He graduated with honors from the College of St. Thomas and from the University of Minnesota School of Law before being admitted to practice in 1986.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company