Business Law

Business Law News 2017, ISSUE 1

Executive Committee: Message from the Chair

Jim Hill

I penned my Chair’s Message for the last edition of Business Law News before the results of November’s national elections rolled out. That message led with a gross understatement—suggesting that we will be living in "interesting times" this coming year. At the dawn of the New Year 2017, we are immersed in interesting times, and it only gets more interesting for California lawyers.

On the national stage, California stood out as a trendsetter on many fronts. The state remains a leading force economically, as the sixth largest economy in the world. Top elected leaders renewed pledges to combat climate change and to move forward with other initiatives to protect the environment while encouraging innovation in business, taking strong stands encouraging fair-minded immigration reform, and expanding global trade. The state is adding high-end jobs at an increasing rate. The state remains a leader in protecting the right to vote—making access to the polls easier, not harder. And, the state has continued to extend personal freedoms through expanded recognition of marriage equality while, for the more adventurous among us, voters passed an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Yes, life as a California business lawyer will remain interesting as we embrace new opportunities that follow new challenges.

While California reasserts itself as a leader on the national stage, the Business Law Section (BLS), along with the fifteen other sections of the State Bar, is on the front lines helping to redefine the structure of the regulatory bar and the voluntary sections. At the moment, for multiple reasons, and based on input and perspectives from multiple fronts, it appears that we are moving from a unified State Bar to one that separates the regulatory agency functions of the State Bar, dealing with discipline and admissions, from the work of the sections, focused on educational programming, legal publications, and legislative analysis. BLS leadership has joined with leaders of other sections of the State Bar to work with the State Bar Board of Trustees, the California Supreme Court, and both houses of the Legislature to achieve a workable and effective framework within which the sections will be able to operate for decades to come. The common goal of all stakeholders in this process is to emerge with a stronger, more effective public agency State Bar, with more efficient and vibrant voluntary sections, allowing both parts of the Bar to better focus on the work that each must do to best serve and protect the public.

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