Legislation & Lobbying

Vetoed legislation allowing Calif. State Bar to levy fines for UPL is quietly revived

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Last year California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would authorize the California State Bar to levy civil penalties against those it finds engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Earlier this month, the same legislative proposal was quietly slipped into another bill that had been stripped of its original content, which let it skip the committee markup process just before an 11-day break for the legislature, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“The somewhat sneaky action caught opponents by surprise and as the legislative session resumed on Monday they were scrambling to marshall opposition,” wrote Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters. “With the revision, Assembly Bill 852 needs just two quick votes to land on Brown’s desk again.”

Last year, the California Association of Legal Document Assistants criticized the proposed legislation as “little more than a cleverly designed effort by the Bar to seek additional revenue from non-members of the Bar.” The legislation would let the State Bar keep the money penalties as well as collect its legal fees for pursing the matters, though it would not have to pay the other side’s legal fees if it failed to make the charges stick.

The State Bar has argued that it needs the authority because it is difficult to get prosecutors to pursue such cases.

In vetoing the legislation last year, Gov. Brown said, “We already have adequate enforcement mechanisms and remedies to stop the unlicensed practice of law through the existing powers of the State Bar or through the authority of the attorney general and local prosecutors to bring civil and criminal actions.”

Hat tip: KafkaEsq.com.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. to correct the timing of the legislative proposal.

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