Friday, December 11, 2015
Past President Joseph D. Mandel Drops L.A. County Bar Membership
Says He Is ‘Appalled’ by ‘Heavy Handedness’ in Dealing With Finances
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Joseph D. Mandel
Joseph D. Mandel, who served as president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 1980-81, is withdrawing from membership in the organization out of irritation with its current policies.
He said in an e-mail to the MetNews:
“I have read with interest the revelations set forth” in a column dealing with LACBA’s finances “and other revelations in earlier articles that appeared in your publication. I am appalled by the association’s current financial state and by the heavy-handedness in its efforts to address its shortfalls and precarious finances.”
He said he has “painfully” resigned as of Dec. 31, remarking:
“I did so by reason of much of what you have disclosed, but also in reaction to two specific matters: (1) the absurd pricing for association events such as the most recent Installation and Shattuck-Price dinner, and (2) the policy that charges a retired and inactive attorney such as me higher annual dues than I was required to pay during my productive years of practice.”
The cost of the Installation Dinner at the Music Center was $275.
High Membership Fee
With respect to cost of LACBA membership—which is $315 for lawyers admitted to practice in 2005 or earlier—he wrote:
“I note that the State Bar reduced my annual dues upon my retirement and then eliminated any dues requirement once I reached age 70.”
(Mandel is on inactive status; active members do not qualify for a fee waiver at age 70.)
“As an association member for more than 50 years, as a former association president and as a longtime active member and supporter of the association, I find all of this most disheartening.”
In 1993, Mandel received LACBA’s highest honor, the Shattuck-Price Award.
He served as president of LACBA’s Barristers (lawyers under the age of 36 who have been admitted to practice for five years or less) in 1972-73, and has also served as president of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and of the Yale Law School Association.
Mandel was vice chancellor for legal affairs for the University of California at Los Angeles from 1991 until his retirement in 2007. In that capacity, he managed the legal affairs of the campus.
He recently completed four years as president of the Western Justice Center Foundation. Presently, he is on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Law Center.
Sections Protest Policies
Dissatisfaction with LACBA’s policies has led to formation of a “Council of Sections,” which met last night for the second time. Three former LACBA presidents are active in the group: John Carson, who chairs it and is chair of the Senior Lawyers Section, Charles Michaels, and Harry Hathaway.
In particular, leaders of LACBA sections have expressed displeasure over a proposed bylaw change that would give no say to sections over their financing, in conformity with a practice over the past few years, in violation of the existing bylaw. There is also discontent over the minimum prices LACBA has proposed for MCLE lectures, ranging from $55 a hour to section members to $120 an hour for non-members of LACBA.
Sections are also demanding copies of LACBA’s financial records. President Paul Kiesel has agreed to provide records to each section, but only relating to that particular section.
He was slated to meet with the council at 5:30 p.m. yesterday. Kiesel has scheduled a Dec. 17 “study hall” at which finances will be discussed with section leaders.
It was learned yesterday that LACBA has donated $48,218 to the state Board of Equalization’s fund, although Kiesel has said the organization is losing about $1 million a year.
A Dec. 8 report from Bloomberg BNA lists the contribution in an article which begins:
“The elected chairman of the California State Board of Equalization has been an important figure in getting money into the hands of nonprofit organizations since he joined the board in 2009, but it hasn’t come without questions.
“SBOE Chair Jerome Horton (D) has reported $731,835 in donations by organizations at his request, with that money going mostly to or through nonprofit organizations tied to his wife, a Bloomberg BNA analysis found.
“Those donations, known as ‘behested payments’ and considered legal as long as they meet disclosure guidelines, include hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies with business before the tax board. Critics, who question the ethics of the payments, say they allow the nonprofit to promote him and his wife through events and advertising loosely related to the board’s tax mission.”
It has previously been reported in the MetNews that the Counsel for Justice, which makes financial grants, is being partially subsidized by LACBA. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2014, the administrative expenses to LACBA in providing support to the charitible entity amounted to $552,302, of which $546,375 was forgiven. The Counsel for Justice was shown as owing LACBA $2.3 million.
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