Final Report of Task Force on State Bar’s Role and Governance

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by Craig Stephan

(Shorter version originally posted Tuesday, September 1, 2015)

The final report of the task force set up by the Arizona Supreme Court to review the State Bar’s role and governance is now available. We have provided a link below to the final report. The task force recommendations include:

  • Amending Supreme Court Rule 32 to clarify that the primary mission of the State Bar is to protect and serve the public and, secondarily, to serve its members.
  • Continuing the State Bar of Arizona as an integrated bar supervised by the Arizona Supreme Court, with membership in the integrated bar being a requirement for practicing law in Arizona.
  • Reducing the size of the State Bar’s governing board.
  • Setting qualifications, term limits, and a process for removing board members.
  • Having three instead of five officers on the governing board, with appointed as well as elected board members eligible to be officers.
  • Changing the name “Board of Governors” to “Board of Trustees” in order to emphasize the fiduciary role of the governing board.
  • Proposing rule amendments that provide Arizona Supreme Court supervision over the State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization, in order to comply with North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, 135 S.Ct. 1101 (2015).

A dissenting letter from attorney and task force member Paul Avelar dated June 11, 2015, is attached as Appendix J to the report, on pages 89 to 113. This letter was originally submitted to the task force in PDF format, with several active hyperlinks to information cited by Mr. Avelar. The PDF version of the letter appeared in the task force’s draft report and has been available on this website since August 22, 2015. However, when the task force’s final report was assembled, the dissenting letter was converted from PDF format into an image format, e.g., TIFF, PNG, JPG, or a similar format. This conversion made the text of the letter a bit blurry and made all of the hyperlinks inoperable. It also increased the file size of the letter from 262 kilobytes to 2.6 megabytes, which is a factor of ten. Therefore, instead of providing a link to this image, we are providing a link to the original PDF, which is a smaller file that is more legible and has active hyperlinks. You will note that some of the hyperlinks in the PDF attempt to access content on the web that has since been removed. However, most of the hyperlinks work and provide the reader with a better understanding of Mr. Avelar’s position. The PDF version of the letter bears page numbers 92 to 116, as in the draft report.

Mr. Avelar’s dissent contends that integrated or mandatory bar associations embody an inherent conflict of interest. On the one hand, they serve to regulate lawyers, but on the other hand, they serve as trade associations promoting the interests of lawyers. This type of conflict was recently a subject of concern in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, supra. In addition, Mr. Avelar contends that integrated bars “threaten the First Amendment rights of attorney members. Keller v. State Bar of Cal., 496 U.S. 1 (1990).” Therefore, Mr. Avelar recommends:

  • Abolishing the integrated State Bar and separating the bar’s regulatory and trade association functions.
  • Making the State Bar a purely regulatory agency that protects the public by regulating lawyers and the practice of law.
  • Abolishing the State Bar’s governing board and allowing the Arizona Supreme Court with a professional staff to supervise the bar’s regulatory function.
  • If the Arizona Supreme Court feels it needs a governing board, it should appoint a small board that represents the public and not lawyers.

Mr. Avelar contends that his recommendations would solve the conflict of interest inherent in an integrated bar, and would protect lawyers’ First Amendment rights.

  • Final Report of Task Force
  • Dissenting Letter of Attorney and Task Force Member Paul Avelar