California Supreme Court Appoints New Chair of Restructured State Bar

August 29, 2018 Updated: August 29, 2018

The California Supreme Court on August 28 appointed two Los Angeles lawyers as the chair and vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California.

Jason Lee, who will be the first Chinese-American leader of the bar, and Alan Steinbrecher will take office at the board’s annual meeting in Los Angeles on September 13-14.

The San Francisco-based State Bar is a public agency that licenses regulate and investigates claims of professional misconduct of California’s more than 250,000 lawyers.

The high court’s task of appointing the two officers is part of a bar governance reform law enacted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall. It went into effect January 1.

Previously, the board chair, then known as the president, was elected by the other trustees. The high court now appoints the chair and vice chair for one-year terms, renewable for a second year.

Lee said in a statement, “I’m grateful to the court for this appointment, and I look 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.”

Lee previously served as vice president. The reform law also made the board entirely appointed by the California Supreme Court, Legislature, and governor, and reduced the board from 19 to 13 members, including seven lawyers and six non-lawyer public members. Previously, some board members were elected by lawyers in the bar.

The measure also spun off the bar’s voluntary specialty sections into a new nonprofit group called the California Lawyers Association.

Outgoing board chair Michael Colantuono stated, “The State Bar will be in good hands under the leadership of Jason Lee.

“As board colleagues, we have made significant progress in recent years to improve the governance and impact of the State Bar,” he said.

Colantuono was the last elected chair of the board, having been selected in September 2017. The reform law provided that he and Lee would continue their terms as chair and vice-chair until September 2018.

By Julia Cheever.