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I just read with great interest (and suspicion) your recent articles about the State Bar of California and its attempts to increase revenue by raising fees for all lawyers, including a 170 percent increase for inactive attorneys [ "Bar aims fat fee hike at inactive lawyers,"March 8]. Did State Bar Acting Chief Trial Counsel Russell Weiner indicate why the State Bar could not (or would not) implement a billable hours program for deputy trial counsels and paralegals who work at the State Bar? Former Chief Trial Counsel Mike Nisperos Jr. once stated that he wanted to run the State Bar “like a major law firm.” Major law firms require that their attorneys meet certain billable hour thresholds. Billable hours provide accountability (to clients and the public) and deter waste, graft and corruption. Remember the Big Six accounting firm Arthur Andersen? Enron? Discussions with California’s inactive Bar members indicate that there are no benefits from the Bar. Hence, the term “inactive.” Why should they have to pay to be inactive members if they are not reaping any benefits or rewards? Secondly, the State Bar’s Board of Governors wants to curb its disciplinary costs for prosecuting unethical attorneys. The board’s decision is eristic. First of all, errant attorneys must be held accountable for their unethical behavior. Why should I, a taxpayer, have to foot the bill for their unethical, and sometimes, felonious conduct? Furthermore, most of those disciplined by the State Bar are solo practitioners, who struggle to eke out a living. The State Bar seldom prosecutes major law firms for unethical conduct. This is unbalanced. Carolyn Mitchell Los Angeles *** The State Bar’s go-for-broke bid to raise its dues ["Bar aims fat fee hike at inactive lawyers," March 8] demonstrates anew that the Bar exists mainly to maximize its take from its members’ pockets. This time there’s the new gall of a 170 percent increase for inactive members who don’t practice law, can’t vote in Bar elections, and get nothing they want from the Bar. There’s also a brazen bid to skip the Legislature, permanently, in any year when dues aren’t being raised. As usual, the Bar claims it’s losing money at its “existing resource level,” without mentioning the revenue boost it gets each year through the addition of new members. Members can’t do much to protest inside the Bar. But the Legislature shouldn’t give the Bar any such bill. And if it does, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should veto it, as Pete Wilson did an earlier money grab. Stephen Barnett Berkeley

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