The State Bar of California is the largest state bar in the U.S. It has over 250,000 members, 183,000 of which are active, and is headquartered in San Francisco. However, it also has offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Despite being the largest state bar in the country, it was not founded easily. In fact, it took Jeremiah F. Sullivan, who was a judge state supreme court judge, several tries before the government approved the state bar’s formation. The initial process to found a state bar in California began in 1917 and was not fully approved until 1927. Membership dues were set at $3 per member.
The California State Bar now mandates membership of all attorneys who plan on practicing law in the state. As a mandatory state bar, it serves a primary purpose of regulating and overseeing California’s legal industry. It disciplines attorneys who violate the state bar’s ethical and professional standards. It also investigates complaints against lawyers in the state.
The state bar in California also functions to provide CLE or Continued Legal Education courses and course information to members. It requires members to undergo regular training in order to keep their licenses current. The CLE information can be found on the state bar’s website along with the dates that courses and examinations are offered.
Another important role that the State Bar of California plays is providing free referrals to the public. It publishes its member directory on its website. The directory allows people to find attorneys throughout the state who are taking new clients and practice in the desired legal specialty for the case.
Further, it provides a host of legal forms for both attorney members and the public. The forms range from contact information updating documents to lawyer complaint forms.
As an additional source of help, the California State Bar also provides free information on immigration and immigration reform. It lists attorneys and legal organizations that can assist people needing help with becoming citizens or gaining legal permanent residence status in the U.S. For people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer for any case, the state bar also has a pro bono program. Information on the pro bono program and what it takes to qualify for free legal help can be found on the state bar’s website.
The state bar’s main office is found at 180 Howard Street in San Francisco, California 94105. An additional office can be found at 845 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, 90017.