Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Ex-LACBA President to Run for Board of Governors
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Gretchen Nelson said yesterday she will run for a spot on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Nelson, managing partner at Kreindler & Kreindler’s Los Angeles office, said she will seek one of the two open seats up for election this year in District Seven, which covers Los Angeles County.
She is the second attorney to confirm her candidacy to the MetNews. Jeffrey P. Lustman, a private investigator who has sought a post on the board in the last three elections, said Friday he will run for the second of the two seats.
Nelson said yesterday she had not yet determined which seat she would seek. The two seats are currently held by Michael D. Marcus and Rex Heinke, who will each conclude three-year terms in September.
Nominating petitions for seats on the board are currently available on the State Bar’s website and must be filed by April 1. Ballots will be mailed to State Bar members April 30, and voting will end July 1. Any active State Bar member who maintains a principal office for the practice of law within a district with a vacancy is eligible to run.
For the first time, the State Bar this year will conduct a “hybrid” election offering voting by mail and electronically. All eligible voters will receive a ballot packet in the mail, and those who choose to vote online will be asked to provide their bar number and a PIN number printed on the ballot.
Nelson said she is running because of the “need to make sure plaintiffs’ lawyers and sole practitioners” are represented on the board and that their voices are heard.
She has represented plaintiffs exclusively since 1988, when she joined the former law firm of Corinblit & Seltzer, and practiced solo for five years after the firm closed in 1998 before accepting an offer by New York-based Kreindler to open its Los Angeles office.
Born in California while her father tested fighter jets for McDonnell Douglas, Nelson “bounced all over” with her family before settling in Virginia. She attended Smith College in Massachusetts and then pursued a career in music before deciding to follow in the footsteps of her father, who became an attorney after leaving the military.
A graduate of law school at Georgetown University, Nelson was admitted to the California State Bar in 1984 and joined the Los Angeles office of Morgan, Wenzel & McNicholas. Most of her early cases involved insurance defense, but she began representing plaintiffs in aviation law cases, including one involving the 1986 Cerritos air disaster in which 83 people were killed after an Aeroméxico Flight and a private plane collided in mid-air.
Nelson became involved with LACBA in the mid-1990s when she helped British writer and barrister Sir John Mortimer, QC—creator and writer of the “Rumpole of the Bailey” series of books and television and radio programs—set up an event in Los Angeles as part of a book tour. After serving on committees and the association’s Board of Trustees, she became president in 2007.
Nelson is also a former president of the Cowboy Lawyers Association.
She declined to identify a campaign strategy, saying only that she will do “whatever I can to make sure the lawyers of Los Angeles are aware” of her candidacy. She did, however, indicate she will be seeking endorsements from the Breakfast Club and from bar associations.
The Breakfast Club is open on a dues-paid basis to any lawyer practicing within Los Angeles County, and its primary function is to endorse candidates for the Board of Governors.
Lustman confirmed his fourth run for a spot on the board Friday, quipping:
“I’m sure you at the MetNews said: ‘Not Lustman again.’ ”
He said his selection of the second of the two seats available in District 7 was arbitrary, but declined to be interviewed further until closer to the election.
Lustman told the Beverly Hills Bar Association Board of Governors during his 2009 run that he favors jury trials in attorney discipline cases, having the State Bar operate as a judicial watchdog agency, and abolishing mandatory continuing legal education.
He cited a 2006 run-in with the State Bar disciplinary system, in which he was publicly reproved for sending a letter protesting an unfavorable decision by Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal and accusing then-Presiding Justice Candace Cooper, since retired, Justice Laurence Rubin and Justice Madeleine Flier of dishonesty and corruption.
A graduate of the University of Maryland, Lustman earned his law degree from William Howard Taft University in Santa Ana. He was admitted to the State Bar in 1995 but is not in active practice.
Three other seats on the Board of Governors are up for election this year and are located, respectively, in District Two, covering Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Tuolumne and Yolo counties; District Three, covering Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; and District Four, covering Marin and San Francisco counties.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company