Business Law

Business Law News 2017, ISSUE 2

Executive Committee: Message from the Chair

Jim Hill

The Business Law Section (BLS, or the "Section"), and particularly its Executive Committee and its advisors, many of whom are former Chairs of the Section, have been laboring doubly hard this year for our 8,000-plus BLS members, helping our fifteen BLS standing committees continue to produce timely publications, education programs, and legislation comments and proposals. As importantly during this 40th anniversary year of the Section, we have been actively engaged in frontline work with all sixteen sections of the State Bar and the CYLA to ensure a thriving future for the BLS and the other sections as we march toward separation from the public agency State Bar and it undergoes restructuring and reform in response to California Supreme Court and legislative mandates. We have made much progress this year helping to gain support from State Bar leadership, as well as necessary cooperation from other key stakeholders within the Legislature in drafting the enabling legislation, and from the California Supreme Court, which oversees the State Bar and, ultimately, all lawyers practicing in California.

As I drafted this Chair’s Address, we received amendments introduced on April 6 in the California Legislature to the State Bar "Dues Bill," Senate Bill 36, which, if adopted, will provide for a historic reorganization of the State Bar of California. The bill restructures the public agency State Bar to allow it to concentrate more effectively on its core public protection missions of admissions and discipline. The amendments, introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will transfer the sixteen sections, together with the California Young Lawyers Association, into a non-profit voluntary entity. Those sections, with more than 60,000 lawyer members (plus the CYLA with its 48,000 members), have operated within the State Bar structure since the sections, including the BLS, were created some forty years ago. Upon separation, the new association of sections will be the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the nation after the venerable American Bar Association.

The reasons for the separation are summarized in Senate Bill 36’s legislative findings. Although accurate, those findings only begin to tell the story of an increasingly restrictive environment in which the sections had been forced to operate for many years. Some of the relevant legislative findings are as follows:

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