FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 9, 2019
Contact: Rick DeBruhl
State Bar Response to Goldwater Institute Rule Petition
Statement from State Bar President Jeff Willis
PHOENIX – Jan. 9, 2019 – First, the State Bar of Arizona has always felt that the court is the proper place for this discussion and a rule petition is the correct way to address this issue rather than the legislature.
While the Goldwater Institute points to Arizona’s Right to Work law as a reason to make changes to the mandatory bar, it’s not a relevant comparison. Right to work laws relate to labor unions which have the sole responsibility of advocating for wages and working conditions on behalf of its members. The State Bar’s mission is exactly the opposite. As directed by the Arizona Supreme Court, the State Bar exists to serve and protect the public when it comes to legal services. The Bar does that both through regulation of attorneys as well as providing programs which improve lawyer skill and competency. It also does so in a way that is both efficient and effective without using tax dollars.
To say that the State Bar of Arizona violates constitutional rights of attorneys is not an accurate statement. The existing US Supreme Court authority makes it clear that mandatory bars are constitutional. While case law may change over time, we have the responsibility of accepting existing precedents.
The Goldwater Institute has also asked for an independent audit of State Bar finances. The Bar’s finances have always been exceptionally transparent. It receives an independent audit every year and posts the annual budget online. Because the Bar is subject to the court’s public record rule, information is very accessible. The public can already view the same audit that is transmitted to the Chief Justice each year. https://www.azbar.org/aboutus/financialstatements/
We look forward to the discussion about the structure of the State Bar.
About the State Bar
The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 23,500 attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.
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