UPDATE: The new entity will be called the California Lawyers Association — an innocuous name.
Since 2015, the California Legislature has been tightening the reins on the California State Bar. The primary focus is to be public protection, as befits a regulatory agency. Last fall, though, the Legislature neglected to authorize 2017 annual dues.
In 2016, the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act became applicable. That affects not only the State Bar Board of Trustees, but also the regular subject-matter educational meetings of the Sections and their Committees, trickling down to the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the Business Law Section, for example.
A plan being discussed is to spin off these subject-matter groupings into a new nonprofit voluntary trade association, analogous to the American Bar Association, or CalCPA. That would leave the mandatory bar with its core function of public protection.
To pave the way for that spinoff, a dozen Bar Section officials took the initiative in 2016 to form a new nonprofit. They christened it the California Lawyers Guild.
It strains credulity, though, to think that none of these seasoned attorneys had ever heard of the National Lawyers Guild.
Putting aside the question of whether the anti-capitalists at the NLG would claim trademark infringement, it is doubtful whether a majority of California attorneys would choose to join an organization with that name. Perhaps those would-be organizers should change the name to “California Lawyers Guild That Has Nothing To Do With Those Firebrands at the National Lawyers Guild, California Chapter – For Reals.”