Rule Changes Help Define State Bar Mission

By Rick DeBruhl
September 9, 2016

The State Bar of Arizona’s consumer protection role has been enhanced thanks to a revised rule from the Arizona Supreme Court. The rule change was the result of recommendations made by the Task Force on the Review of the Role and Governance Structure of the State Bar of Arizona. The Task Force was chaired by former Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch and included attorneys plus community leaders.

The changes to Rule 32, which establishes and defines the State Bar, adds language that refines the organization’s mission. While the State Bar has always focused its efforts on protecting the public, that language is now in the rule. The updated wording says, “The State Bar of Arizona exists to serve and protect the public with respect to the provision of legal services and access to justice.”

The State Bar’s mission statement already says it exists to enhance the legal profession by promoting the “…competency, ethics and professionalism of its members”. That language is also now included in Rule 32 as well. It goes on to say the State Bar has a responsibility to “promote access to justice for those who live, work, and do business in this state.”

All attorneys licensed in Arizona must belong to the State Bar. In addition to improving lawyer skills, the State Bar also is also responsible for lawyer regulation. 

“The new wording refines and enhances what this organization has done for years,” said State Bar CEO John Phelps. “We underwrite every Arizonan’s expectation that when they are served by a member of our Bar, that lawyer is professional, ethical and competent .”

Other changes approved by the Arizona Supreme Court include: 

  • Restructuring the Board of Legal Specialization, which certifies lawyers who are highly experienced in certain practice areas
  • Specifying qualifications and term limits for members of the State Bar’s Board of Governors
  • Providing for the appointment of non-lawyer Board members by the Supreme Court
  • Recognizing tribal court judges as judicial members of the State Bar
  • Directing that the State Bar will conduct its meetings and maintain records under public access policies adopted by the Supreme Court.

According to Chief Justice Scott Bales, “The Court believes that the changes in the bar governance rules will help ensure that the State Bar continues to serve the public and its members effectively by supporting the fair administration of justice and the competence and professionalism of lawyers practicing in our state.”

You can read the full text of the rule change here.


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