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Chief trial counsel appointed to second term

The State Bar Board of Trustees last month appointed Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim to serve a second four-year term as the State Bar’s top prosecutor, acting on the nomination of new Executive Director Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker.

Jayne Kim

Parker said she made the nomination after extensively reviewing Kim’s record and listening to input from employees and others. The position requires confirmation by the California Senate.

“Ms. Kim is an excellent lawyer and a person of great integrity and commitment to public service,” Parker said. “Ms. Kim, the State Bar and the citizens of California deserve the opportunity for her to complete the reform work she has begun.”

The 218-employee Office of Chief Trial Counsel is the State Bar’s central organization designed for public protection in the discipline of California lawyers. It is the largest State Bar operation, receiving thousands of complaints against attorneys every year and prosecuting professional misconduct in State Bar Court.

Under Kim’s leadership, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel has:

  • Standardized discipline and made sure that accountability for misconduct occurs in the interest of public protection, notwithstanding continuing concerns voiced by some defense counsel
  • Improved case processing practices that have resulted in more timely, coherent, and standardized investigations and prosecutions, making sure that claimants and defendants alike receive prompt resolution
  • Reduced by half the number of petitions filed in the California Supreme Court to appeal a closed complaint, from 191 in 2011 to 81 in 2014
  • Reinstituted quality control measures, requiring supervisor or management review of charging and settlement decisions
  • Transitioned to a vertical prosecution model, which eliminated delays in moving cases from investigation to prosecution
  • Established an appeals unit for greater uniformity in appellate work

“Ms. Kim is totally committed to public protection,” State Bar President David Pasternak said. “It is noteworthy that the six current and former prosecutors on the board, who collectively have over 100 years of prosecutorial experience, are among her strongest supporters.”

The 14-1 vote by the board stood in contrast to an October vote organized by SEIU Local 1000 in which 42.5 percent of employees in the Office of Chief Trial Counsel expressed a lack of confidence in Kim.

Parker said in making the nomination she was not dismissing concerns raised by Kim’s staff about her management style. The State Bar’s leadership team pledges to work with Kim and her staff to create a collaborative approach to solving problems.

Trustee Dennis Mangers, who chaired the board committee that oversees the discipline unit, said he regrets "the dissonance" because he believes Kim and her staff are equally dedicated to bringing accountability to unethical attorneys.

Kim said she is committed to making further improvements to the discipline system as recommended by the California State Auditor earlier this year.

“I am heartened by the new management provided by the Board,” Kim said. “I look forward to continuing to build the finest attorney discipline system in the nation.”

Since September 2011, Kim served as interim chief trial counsel until her first official four-year term began Jan. 6, 2012.

Kim, 46, previously worked for the Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel as a staff prosecutor and as assistant chief trial counsel before leaving for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles in 2008.

Kim is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota Law School, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1994. She will continue to be headquartered in the State Bar’s Los Angeles office.