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Aug 29 – California will not be launching a so-called “sandbox” for experimenting with attorney deregulation or allowing specially trained non-lawyers to offer legal services anytime soon.
State lawmakers this week passed a bill that halts the two closely watched legal innovation and access to justice projects by the State Bar of California. Governor Gavin Newsom had not yet signed the legislation Friday, but chair Ruben Duran of the state bar’s board of trustees said in an interview that his organization is not lobbying Newsom to veto the bill, which also authorizes the bar’s funding.
Lawmakers also made a late amendment to ensure the bill takes effect as soon as it is signed, instead of at the start of 2023 as is typical.
State Assemblymember Mark Stone, who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement that lawmakers are “very concerned” about lapses in the state bar’s attorney discipline system, and that restricting the regulatory sandbox and legal paraprofessionals initiatives will help the bar focus on its “core mission of protecting the public.”
The bar’s mishandling of allegations involving Tom Girardi—the now-disbarred high profile plaintiffs’ lawyer who is accused by a rival law firm of using client settlement funds to fund a lavish lifestyle—has placed a spotlight on longstanding problems within the state bar’s attorney discipline system. Bar leaders say they have already taken numerous steps to improve lawyer oversight.
The state bar in 2020 convened a working group to examine modifying