Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, December 17, 2020


Page 1


LACBA Has Shaky Finances, Owes in Excess of $1.1 Million for Rent of Office Space


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The financial picture for the Los Angeles County Bar Association is blackening, with the organization’s executive director, Stanley Bissey, declining to say yesterday whether the liabilities now exceed the assets.

He did indicate, however, that “LACBA currently owes $1,122,880 in unpaid rent.”

An inquiry to Bissey was triggered by the Council of Section’s dissemination by email on Tuesday to 114 persons of LACBA’s latest financial report, showing 2020 losses through Oct. 31 of $826,524. That loss is partially offset, however, by allocation to the time period of $130,229 of a 2017 cy pres award.

As further adjusted, the “modified” loss is shown as $697,156.

The financial statement was part of the materials distributed to members of the Board of Trustees in advance of the monthly meeting, scheduled for last night. Bissey said, in declining to state whether liabilities exceed assets:

“We will be discussing the 2021 Budget and I don’t want to get ahead of my Board or elected leadership. While we are all committed to openness and transparency, anything that I share needs to be accurate and reflective of the actions taken by the Board.”

Although he was not expressly asked about the prospect of LACBA seeking bankruptcy protection, the executive director said:

“Regarding any possible litigation, these matters are confidential attorney client privilege. Further, premature conjecture may jeopardize negotiations with third parties.”

The largest drain on LACBA’s financial resources has been the rent on two floors in the office building on the northeast corner of Seventh and Bixel, west of the downtown area. Even before the pandemic, with staff members working from their homes, LACBA was utilizing only one of the floors.

Then-President-elect Michael Meyer, at a board meeting on Nov. 7, 2016, commented that former Chief Executive Officer Sally Suchil, had made a “horrible decision” in executing a lease amendment under which LACBA lost its annual prerogative of terminating the lease early.

Before members of a reform movement took over LACBA offices in 2016, LACBA was giving away, to programs of its charitable arm, about $1 million a year. That ended and, Bissey said, “we were on track to a turn-around year, and then, of course, the pandemic.”

The financial report says:

As of October 31, 2020, LACBA is behind budget by ($758,000). Both income and expenses are below expectations comparing to the [year to date] budget specifically due to the effects of the pandemic on programming, advertising, and sponsorships.”


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