Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Spin-Off of Conference of Delegates From State Bar Remains on Track
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
The formal spin-off of the State Bar’s Conference of Delegates proceeded yesterday with a joint task force’s approval of separation documents and a timetable that contemplates a completed “divorce” by the end of both organizations’ annual meeting in October.
Timing is key to a successful split, as the state Legislature must amend the State Bar Act, bar leaders must negotiate a contract with the nascent Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, and annual dues statements must be printed that explain the new relationship between the entities with an eye toward a vote by the current conference on or before Oct. 13.
That is the last day of this year’s annual meeting in Monterey and could, if the conference ratifies the move, mark the end of a Conference of Delegates that is fully integrated into the State Bar.
In order to meet that deadline, the dues bill and inserts, with the as-yet undetermined amount of voluntary donations for the new independent conference, must be ready to go by mid-August. Task force members said that if there is any hold-up at that point for any reason, creation of the new conference may have to wait a year.
The task force acted in San Francisco yesterday, with some members participating by telephone. They made quick work of proposed protocols for dividing revenues and expenses of the annual meeting, billing on State Bar member dues statements, and consideration of Conference of Delegates resolutions.
They also breezed through proposed legislation to take account of the new organization’s status.
The group’s next session is slated for July 8, when members are expected to take up a draft five-year contract spelling out particular responsibilities of each entity.
The group of bar leaders appointed by State Bar President Karen Nobumoto began meeting in January, and has quickly worked through a number of steps needed to alter the relationship of the often-feuding organizations. The State Bar Board of Governors approved split procedures at its meeting last month.
The conference has been a fully integrated part of the State Bar, with its main event—a three-day congress of attorneys who debate and vote on hoped-for changes to state law and policy—historically a highlight of the annual meeting.
But following a dues crisis in the mid-1990s in which then-Gov. Pete Wilson virtually shuttered the State Bar, the conference has had to operate on donations and has chafed under the State Bar’s continuing restrictions on the scope of issues it may discuss.
An independent successor to the Conference of Delegates was first proposed at the 1998 annual meeting, the last time the State Bar met in Monterey. But the matter was withdrawn to give conference leaders a chance to work out their differences with their parent organization. That never happened, and State Bar leaders agreed this year that a formal split, with continuing cooperation, was in the best interest of both groups.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company