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John Van de Kamp, who was California’s attorney general for eight years and once ran for governor, has been chosen as the next president of the State Bar. The 68-year-old Pasadena resident beat out three other candidates Saturday as State Bar governors cast their votes during a meeting in San Francisco. He will take over in October during the Bar’s annual meeting in Monterey. “I’ve spent 30 years in public life, and those were good years,” Van de Kamp said after the vote. “And this is just an extension of that.” Van de Kamp defeated three highly regarded opponents: Sacramento-based Deputy State Controller Windie Scott; Redwood City solo practitioner Vivian Kral; and Roeca Haas Hager partner Russell Roeca. Scott was eliminated first in a process that requires the victor to acquire a majority of the 22 votes cast secretly by board members. It then took three rounds to eliminate Kral, who kept tying Roeca with the second-most votes, before the board finally chose Van de Kamp over Roeca. The process was unusually calm, almost friendly. In some years, losing candidates have been known to react angrily, pout or run out of the room crying. “It was a very clean-cut campaign,” Van de Kamp said. “I said it before, and I mean it — the other three candidates are terrific.” In a speech just before the vote, Van de Kamp vowed to devote his one-year term to developing strategies to increase diversity within the profession, encourage pro bono service, improve benefits for members of the Bar and continue finding ways to protect the public from abusive lawyers. “Clearly, we would like to see the Bar stand for lawyers, but also stand for the public at the same time,” he said during a post-election press conference. “These two things are by no means inconsistent.” Van de Kamp was elected attorney general in 1982 and served two four-year terms. Before that he was the Los Angeles County district attorney for eight years, served as a federal public defender in Los Angeles and was director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys under Deputy AG Warren Christopher in Washington, D.C. In 1990, he ran for governor, but lost to Dianne Feinstein in the Democratic primary. On Saturday, Van de Kamp said he believes his political experience will be a great advantage in working with the state Legislature, a group often at odds with the Bar on a variety of issues. As state AG, he said, he often worked hand-in-hand with Republican legislators and knows “how things get done.” He pointed out that during his time in Sacramento, he helped pass several nonpartisan bills. He also noted that he was the “father of fast track,” which expedited civil cases in state courts. “I can tell you that in 1986 and �87, it took five years to go to trial in L.A.,” he said. Nowadays, he added, at least 95 percent of cases are finished in two years. During his speech on Saturday, Van de Kamp also said the State Bar needs to do a better job of communicating to its own members and the public that lawyers have a valuable role in society. “Lawyers are absolutely the glue for the rule of law, and we forget that,” he said. “It’s time we brought a sense of honor and trust back to this profession.” Van de Kamp is currently the president and general counsel of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, an Arcadia-based group that represents the interests of horse owners. He plans to resign on July 1. He will also cut back on his work in the L.A. office of New York’s Dewey Ballantine, where he is a partner and of counsel handling regulatory and administrative work. Van de Kamp will be the State Bar’s 80th president and will succeed Fresno solo practitioner Anthony Capozzi.

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