Jeffrey Bleich ’89, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson in San Francisco, is taking the helm of the California State Bar for the 2007–2008 term, and he plans to hit the ground running.
Bleich calls the post a “major commitment and a major challenge.” He intends to immediately take on some of the thorniest problems facing the 211,000 member organization, including continuing his predecessors’ efforts to rebuild confidence in the organization, which has been waning since the 90s.
Bleich has pledged to visit all nine state bar districts and to meet with judges and lawmakers, as well as local, specialty, and minority bars. He also hopes to advance such ongoing bar initiatives as strengthening the young lawyer division and promoting a pipeline program designed to interest young people—especially those from underrepresented minorities—in law careers.
The bar has been plagued with fiscal problems since the veto of a dues bill by former California governor Pete Wilson ’62 in 1997, and a court decision preventing dues from being spent on anything but regulation of lawyers and the administration of justice. Bleich says that strengthening fiscal support in the legislature was the “first among the bar’s challenges.”
A graduate of Amherst College, Harvard University, and Boalt, Bleich is a prolific author and recipient of numerous awards. Past president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and a member of the California State University board of trustees, he has received the Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, and a special recognition award from the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco. He was also recently named an Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer magazine.
Bleich is the first member of his firm elected to the California Bar presidency and the first Northern Californian to hold the post since the 2000–2001 term.