PLEASE NOTE: Publication for public comment is not, and shall not be construed as, a recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published.
The Legal Services Trust Fund Commission is responsible for oversight of legal aid grants to almost 100 legal aid organizations in California. The various sources of funding are distributed under a complicated statutory structure. A steep learning curve exists for members of the Commission to fully understand the technicalities of their grantmaking and oversight responsibilities.
There are 21 members and three judicial advisors on the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission. As Chair of the Judicial Council, the Chief Justice appoints seven members and three judicial advisors; the State Bar appoints 14 members, including ten attorney members and four public members. Currently, State Bar appointments are limited to a term of three years, with the possibility of extending the term an additional fourth or fifth year to serve as officer.
Thus, State Bar appointees’ terms expire at the time they feel they are fully able to participate in the difficult grant decisions. The remaining Commission members also suffer from the loss of these outgoing members’ experience and knowledge.
At its meeting on March 11, 2014, the Commission approved requesting the Board of Trustees amend Rule 3.662(A) of the Rules of the State Bar, Title 3, Division 5, to extend Trust Fund Commission terms limits to two consecutive three-year terms, with the possibility of extending the term by an additional seventh or eighth year to serve as Chair or Vice Chair. This rule change would only apply to the State Bar appointments. Whether or not a Commission member is recommended by the Commission to the Board for reappointment will still be based on a number of factors, including the expertise, qualifications, contributions of the member, as well as diversity factors.
At its May 8, 2014 meeting and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, the State Bar Standing Committee on Nominations and Appointments tentatively approved a thirty-day public comment period commencing on May 12 and ending on June 10. If the Board of Trustees ultimately approves the amendment to the rules, it is anticipated the rule change would become effective with the Commission terms beginning at the close of the 2014 State Bar Annual Meeting, September 14, 2014.
State Bar Legal Services Trust Fund Commission
Legal Services Trust Fund Program, Office of Legal Services
The State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639