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First New State Bar Appointments, Focus on Fee Increase

California lawyers take note: the state Supreme Court will now be appointing the California State Bar's seven lawyer, and six non-lawyer, board members, as well as the Bar's president and vice president (which have been rebranded as chair and vice chair).

Last week, the court made three appointments: Jason Lee, as Chair, Alan Steinbrecher as Vice Chair, and Brandon Stallings as a member of the board of trustees. However, in the announcement on the state bar's website, there's something that is likely more concerning for lawyers in the state: The bar is still trying to find a way to increase membership dues.

Reform From the Norm

If you've even been mildly following the news about the California Bar, you've probably noticed that the organization is doing what it can to correct the problems of the past and the prior regime. Sadly, members are the ones who will be paying the price for the agency's prior mismanagement, as evidenced by the current fingerprinting debacle we all have to suffer through now.

In a statement, the Bar's new chair Jason Lee explained that he "look[s] forward to leading the State Bar in ongoing reforms toward greater accountability, transparency and effectiveness so that we are best accomplishing our public protection mission."

From Dues to Fees

As part of the restructuring currently underway at the Bar, fees are big issue that hasn't actually been sorted out yet. The Bar is insisting that it needs more money in order to improve the disciplinary system, which reportedly is underfunded and overworked.

Also, consistent with the efforts to rebrand the state bar from its current "trade association" image into an organization that more closely resembles a regulatory body, California lawyers will no longer be "members" of the bar, but rather "licensees." And those membership dues will be recharacterized as license fees.

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