Friday, March 16, 2018
Elwood Lui, as Special Master, Calls for Boost in State Bar Dues
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Elwood Lui of this district’s Div. Two, in his role as special master for the California Supreme Court in taking a look at the lawyer disciplinary system, yesterday issued a final report in which he called for a hike in State Bar dues.
He compared the $840 dues paid by doctors, for a two-year license, with the highest cost of the annual bar dues, and declared:
“A fee increase is long overdue, and I believe the continued postponement of an increase will fundamentally and detrimentally affect the State Bar’s ability to discharge its critical public protection functions.”
Lui pointed out:
“Mandatory licensing fees have not significantly increased for nearly 20 years….
“At the same time, the State Bar has seen the costs of maintaining the attorney discipline system rise considerably, a trend that is only expected to continue.”
He called upon “the Legislature, the Court, and the State Bar [to] work closely together in the coming months to consider and agree on a reasonable increase in mandatory fees for State Bar members.”
The report, dated Monday, was released yesterday.
Lui was appointed on Oct. 19, 2016 by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, on behalf of the Supreme Court as a special master “charged with obtaining additional information from the State Bar of California and providing administrative assistance to aid the court in its consideration of the Request of the State Bar of California for a Special Regulatory Assessment.”
The request came in response to the Legislature adjourning that year without passing a dues bill. (The Supreme Court, on Nov. 17, 2016, did order a 2017 special assessment of $297 for each lawyer to fund the disciplinary system.)
Lui was also special master when the high court ordered a special assessment in 1998. He repeated a recommendation he made in 2000 report of a multi-year funding bill.
He also said:
“As I observed in my final Special Master’s report in March 2000, the California attorney discipline system is unique in that we are the only jurisdiction that maintains an independent state bar court system funded exclusively through license fees. This stands in stark contrast to other state bar systems and even other professional licensing agencies within California, such as the Medical Board of California (MBC), which largely relies on the Attorney General’s (AG) office to prosecute and the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and the statewide trial court system to adjudicate and review its disciplinary proceedings.”
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