Thursday, July 27, 2017
LACBA’s President Meyer Wins Support for Seeking Contract to Provide Free Legal Help
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Bar Association President Michael E. Meyer yesterday reversed a position he took at the Board of Trustees’s July 12 meeting and persuaded trustees, in a telephonic conference, to approve seeking a county legal services contract.
Arguing against the action was President-Elect Brian Kabateck. He was one of three trustees voting “no,” while 11 voted “yes.”
The question was whether LACBA should file a proposal to take over the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affair’s Self-Help Legal Access Center program. It is presently operated at eight courthouse locations by the by Neighborhood Legal Services, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Community Legal Services.
Pro pers are assisted in filling out forms and are counseled on how to present their cases in court.
Responses to a county request for proposals are due Tuesday—which is why the matter could not have been carried over to the board’s Aug. 23 meeting when trustees found on July 12 that they had inadequate information on the matter. LACBA Chief Financial & Administrative Officer Bruce Berra, who is preparing a proposal, has estimated that LACBA’s Counsel for Justice would net $200,000 a year over the contract’s five-year term.
Meyer acknowledged that going into a new program, if LACBA were chosen as the contractor, could “divert us” and “distract us.” He said, however:
“I don’t want to turn my back on $200,000 a year.”
The bar chief said he was “totally against it” but was convinced that morning by Berra that it taking on the program was feasible.
Although a sample contract is attached to the RFP, Meyer expressed the view that LACBA could negotiate the terms and could decline to sign a contract it found unsatisfactory.
Kabateck countered that LACBA would not be “filling a public need” because the program already exists, and the association would be “pulling the program away from people who are our friends.”
“I’m really reluctant. It’s an awful lot of risk for $200,000.”
Kabateck said it would be “one more project when we’re trying to make existing projects better.”
Berra said the county is “not satisfied with the current providers,” and advised that estimate of a $200,000 a year profit takes into account the cost of additional liability insurance coverage.
Copyright 2017, Metropolitan News Company