Contact: Laura Ernde 


SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 13, 2016 — The State Bar of California announced today that it is broadening efforts to collect money owed by disciplined attorneys.

In 2004, as a result of changes in the law, the organization began filing judgments against attorneys ordered to pay the State Bar the cost of their disciplinary proceedings. Judgments allow access to untapped assets, including, for example, when a debtor attempts to refinance a mortgage.  

In 2014, at the urging of the State Bar, the Legislature enacted a law allowing the State Bar to intercept tax refunds through the Franchise Tax Board as an additional collections tool. The intercepted money from this interagency program – totaling $292,338 to date – is deposited into the Legal Services Trust Fund, which provides free legal services to low-income Californians.

“Collecting these debts has always been challenging, but we must send a message to disciplined attorneys  that the State Bar will make its best effort to obtain reimbursement, no matter the amount,” said General Counsel Vanessa Holton, whose office is spearheading the broadened collections effort.  She has committed an attorney and a paralegal from the Office of General Counsel to work with other State Bar departments to bring the filing of judgments current.

Currently, about 1,300 people owe the State Bar a total of $8.5 million in discipline costs in cases dating back to 2006.


The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. Membership now stands at about a quarter-million.