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Committee to look into Arizona bar next week

A committee will be looking into the state bar next week to decide if it needs to lose some of its power, be voluntary or be dismantled entirely.

“Lawyers are officers of the court. It’s unlike being a plumber, or an electrician or something else,” said Rick DeBruhl with the Arizona Bar Association. “They’re responsible for the administration of justice…the system of laws.”

Lawyers have to belong to an organization that is there to make sure that our system of justice works properly and is continually perfected on a regular basis, he said. That is one of the jobs of the State Bar of Arizona, to act as a forum for the discussion of law.

The committee is being led by Arizona Rep. Anthony Kern, who introduced legislation last session to address many of the same issues, but the bill failed by one vote.

“What we want to do is just look at the state bar overall, with the goal of creating some transparency, and possibly even making it a voluntary state bar down the road,” said Rep. Kern.

There are attorneys for and against the bar, he said, but from what he has heard, attorneys would like to belong to an organization that represents their interest.

“You have big law firms that have a lot more say in the Arizona State Bar as opposed to individual sole proprietorship attorneys that really feel that they’re voice isn’t being heard,” Kern said.

From an attorney’s perspective, KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said the state bar would have a fraction of the membership if you made it voluntary. She says it can’t just be dismantled either.

“Getting rid of the state bar all together, I don’t think is the answer,” she said. “Tweaking it, making changes that help the members as opposed to hurt them, I think is the way to go.”

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