2015-01-11

Suit Against State Bar of California Spurs Calls for New Lawyer Discipline Model

The internal warfare at the nation's largest state bar is reviving criticism that its disciplinary system is weak and lets bad attorneys off the hook. Some say the episode shows a broken, dysfunctional institution that needs restructuring to properly police its more than 249,000 members. "The state bar for the last generation has been a completely dysfunctional organization," said Peter Keane, a former state bar vice president who teaches at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. "It seems to survive somehow, but... it gets worse with each iteration." To practice law, attorneys must be members of the bar, a public corporation created by the state legislature. The bar collects yearly dues that largely fund its operations. In November, Dunn -- an ex-Democratic lawmaker from Orange County -- was removed from his $259,000 executive director's post after four years. Within days, celebrity attorney Mark Geragos filed a lawsuit for Dunn alleging "glaring injustices, unethical conduct and massive cover-up that has crippled the State Bar's ability to function."

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