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Newly Elected State Bar Chief Vows to Repair Lawyer Discipline System

June 20, 1987|MYRNA OLIVER | Times Legal Affairs Writer

The president-elect of the beleaguered State Bar of California said shortly after his election Friday that he will "aggressively address" criticisms of the Bar's attorney discipline system and work diligently to bring the system "up to the level everybody wants."

Terry P. Anderlini, 43, of San Mateo will be the third state Bar president to attempt to prove to doubtful state legislators that the Bar can properly discipline its own members.

The new Bar leader must deal with criticisms recently leveled at the system by a special monitor, Robert C. Fellmeth, who was appointed by Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp under a statute that also requires reduction of the Bar's disciplinary complaint backlog by the end of this year.

"The bottom line," Anderlini said in a telephone interview after his election in San Francisco, "is that he (Fellmeth) says we need to improve the system, and I agree."

Cites Improvements

Anderlini said he was "disappointed" that Fellmeth had not praised--or even mentioned--improvements made by Bar officials in the two years since legislators first threatened to place attorney discipline in the hands of an independent agency.

Among those improvements, he said, was establishing a phone-in complaint system. Fellmeth had criticized the Bar for keeping its toll-free number a virtual secret, but Anderlini said the number--800-843-9053--is currently being publicized.

Echoing predictions by current state Bar President Orville (Jack) Armstrong, whom he succeeds in September, Anderlini said he is "confident" that the Bar will pare its disciplinary backlog as ordered by the end of the year.

He also agreed with Armstrong that responding to Fellmeth's criticisms will require more--not less--money, countering a recent report by the legislative analyst's office which suggested cutting the state Bar's budget. The Legislature sets dues for the state's 106,000 lawyers, who must be members of the state Bar in order to practice law in California.

Wins on First Ballot

Anderlini won his one-year position with the required 12 votes of the 22-member Bar Board of Governors on the first ballot. He easily defeated major contender Ronald L. Olson of Los Angeles, who drew five votes, and Don W. Martens of Newport Beach, also with five votes. Thomas F. Smegal Jr. of San Francisco and Don Mike Anthony of Pasadena, chairman of the discipline committee this year, withdrew before the vote was taken.

All five have served as vice presidents this year, the third of their three-year terms on the board. Only the president serves four years.

Anderlini has become well known by attorneys around the state as chairman of the Bar's special committee studying mandatory malpractice insurance. The Bar's Board of Governors has tentatively endorsed a plan that would require all lawyers to obtain their first $100,000 of insurance from the state Bar, and will take a final vote in August. The plan is strongly opposed by the Los Angeles County and San Francisco Bar associations.

Anderlini is a strong advocate of the plan, but has won praise as a negotiator among various factions.

Effort for Unity

"I am going to make an effort to get those Bar associations (Los Angeles and San Francisco) and the state Bar united on this," Anderlini said. "If we have a proposal, then I believe everybody should support it. If we don't have everybody's support, then I would urge the state Bar to slow down on proposing mandatory insurance."

A civil trial lawyer, Anderlini is a partner in the San Mateo firm of Monaco, Anderlini & Finkelstein, and has been president of the San Mateo County Bar Assn., San Mateo Barristers Club and San Mateo Trial Lawyers Assn.

He and his wife, Regan, have two children, Gina, 19, and Andrew, 5.

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