THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA SEEKS A NEW GENERAL COUNSEL

Unique Opportunity

The State Bar of California is seeking a resourceful and experienced lawyer with a solid breadth of management expertise to become its next General Counsel/Chief Legal Officer (GC). Reporting to the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, with a client relationship with the Board of Trustees, the GC is responsible for managing and directing the legal staff and legal work of the State Bar and providing legal advice, counsel and representation to the State Bar entity.

State Bar of California

The State Bar of California was created by the state Legislature in 1927 and is a public corporation within the judicial branch of government, serving as an arm of the California Supreme Court in matters involving the admission, regulation and discipline of attorneys. The State Bar is a unified bar. It serves the “unified” purpose of being the state regulatory licensing agency for lawyers as well as the state-wide professional organization of California lawyers. All California lawyers practicing law must be active members. With over 240,000 attorneys, the State Bar of California is one of the largest unified state bar’s in the world. For more than 85 years, the State Bar has regulated the professional conduct of the state’s lawyers and sought to enhance the administration of justice for all citizens.

Under a recent governance reform initiative, the State Bar is governed by a 19-member Board of Trustees. Six Board members are attorneys elected by attorneys in statutorily defined districts. Five Board members are attorneys appointed by the Supreme Court. Two Board members are attorneys appointed by Legislative leaders. Six “public,” non-lawyer members are appointed to the Board of Trustees – four by California’s Governor, one by the Senate Committee on Rules and one by the Speaker of the Assembly. The President of the Board of Trustees is elected by the other Board members. The Board of Trustees meets approximately eight times a year. The State Bar has 600 budgeted employees and a $140 million budget, divided between general and special funds. The State Bar’s offices are located in downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The State Bar is conceptually divided into the following service areas:

  • Regulation and Discipline: including Admissions; Chief Trial Counsel (disciplinary enforcement); State Bar Court (disciplinary adjudication); the Client Security Fund; the Office of Probation; Professional Responsibility and Competence Programs; Mandatory Fee Arbitration Programs
  • Administration of Justice: including Legal Service Program; Access & Fairness Programs; Judicial Evaluation; Bar Relations; and Government Affairs
  • Education: including Affinity Programs; Insurance Programs; Professional Development (Legal Education and Meeting Services); and Lawyer Assistance Program
  • Administrative Support: including Finance; Information Technology; Human Resources; General Counsel; Media and Information Services; General Services and Real Property Operations; Licensing Records
  • Board Administration: including the Executive Director; Board of Trustees and the Secretariat

The Office of General Counsel is one of the State Bar’s administrative support departments serving the legal needs of the State Bar as an entity. For further information on the State Bar of California, see its website at: www.calbar.ca.gov.

Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the State Bar’s in-house counsel – providing legal advice, representation and services to the State Bar, its governing board, executive director, management, staff, committees, and other sub-entities.  OGC is responsible for a wide range of areas, including:

  • Providing legal analysis and opinions on laws, issues and proposed legislation relevant to the State Bar and its programs and activities
  • Providing advice on contracts, government procurement requirements, employer-employee and labor relations, open meetings, public records and governmental privacy
  • Providing representation to the State Bar in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies and overseeing outside counsel involving labor and employment, intellectual property, public entity and regulatory matters
  • Representing the State Bar in discipline and admissions cases on review before the California Supreme Court
  • Regularly attend meetings of the Board of Trustees and other committees and commissions to provide legal analysis and advice on pending matters
  • Drafting, reviewing and advising on contracts and other business transactions for all State Bar offices and departments, including employment and labor relations, copyright, real estate and general public corporation matters

The Position

Reporting to the Executive Director/CEO, with a client relationship with the Board of Trustees, the GC is the chief legal officer of the State Bar and serves in this position consistent with the attorney-client relationship. The GC does not have responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of attorney disciplinary cases except for serving as appellate counsel should a matter proceed to the Supreme Court on a petition for review.  The GC represents the State Bar consistent with Rule of Professional Conduct 3-600 [Organization as Client] and performs accordingly.  

The GC is a member of the State Bar’s Senior Management Team and is responsible for overseeing the budget and personnel of the Office of General Counsel, subject to the Executive Director’s overall responsibility to administer the State Bar’s budget, personnel, facilities and related support activities in accordance with the policy parameters established by the Board of Trustees.  This position is based in the San Francisco office.

The GC manages a $4.5 million budget and oversees the retention and direction of outside counsel, as necessary.  Direct reports to the GC include two Chief Assistant General Counsels, an Administrative Manager and a staff of approximately 20.  The State Bar is a union environment governed by the Myers-Milias Brown Act (MMBA), Government Code Section 3500 et seq.  The employees of the Office of General Counsel are nonunion Confidential Employees under the MMBA.

The Ideal Candidate

The next GC will be a highly competent legal professional with a demonstrated track record of successful legal and managerial accomplishments.  Qualified candidates will be proven lawyers, strong leaders, creative thinkers, and possess the organizational skills to assess the structure and efficacy of the legal department with a vision that focuses on providing a high quality product.  A superior level of legal skill, political acumen, independent judgment and an appreciation for the application of technology to legal practice and institutional management is also important for this position.

Qualified candidates for this position must bring over 10 years of progressively responsible experience in the practice of law as well as substantial management and budgetary expertise.  Qualified candidates from the private sector as well as those with experience in the public and in-house corporate sectors are encouraged to apply.  In addition, a minimum of five (5) years senior management/supervisory experience in administering personnel and budgets is required.  Candidates must be active members in good standing in the State Bar of California and have a demonstrated verifiable reputation for integrity and no history of disciplinary offenses as an attorney or in any other capacity.

Compensation and Benefits

The current annual salary range for the General Counsel is $136,948 - 201,590 (appointment in the range will be commensurate with qualifications and experience).  As an employee of the State Bar of California, the General Counsel also receives a comprehensive benefit plan including, but not limited to, California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) 2 percent @ 63 formula; 457 Deferred Compensation Program (no matching contribution); Medical, dental, and vision coverage currently through Kaiser or Aetna, with full premiums paid by the State Bar (employees and eligible dependents); Long Term Disability Insurance coverage; Life Insurance; State Bar funded retiree health after 15 years of executive service; 3 weeks of vacation starting and up to 5 weeks maximum plus holidays and sick leave.

A relocation reimbursement allowance and transit and ride share reimbursement program are available.

Application Process

To be considered for this position, please submit a resume and cover letter, including indication of current salary and the names of five work-related references, directly to:

The State Bar of California
Office of Human Resources
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
hrsf@calbar.ca.gov
Fax 415-538-2586

Office of Human Resources
845 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515
hrla@calbar.ca.gov
Fax 213-765-1109.

Resumes will be screened in relation to the criteria outlined in this brochure. Candidates with the most relevant qualifications will be given preliminary interviews. Following these activities, a small group of candidates will proceed to a final interview.  Following the final interview, the top candidate will undergo a thorough background investigation and reference check process.