MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028   diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, January 11, 2010 — Judy Johnson, the longest-serving executive director in State Bar history, has announced that she plans to step down next year.

Johnson, 60, who became executive director in 2000 following six years as chief trial counsel, announced at the Board of Governors meeting on Saturday that after much consideration, she determined that the timing was right for her to move on to new opportunities. She pledged to work with the board during the next 12 months to identify her successor and transition the institution to new leadership by February 2011.

In a note to staff, she said, "I will do all that I can to effect a smooth transition in leadership in an organization that I love and cherish" and she called on State Bar colleagues to assist in the transition.

State Bar President Howard Miller said Johnson "has been the heart and soul of the State Bar for the past decade. The board honors and respects her contributions to the State Bar and appreciates her willingness to be part of the transition to new leadership over the coming year." Miller also announced that Johnson's many contributions to the State Bar and the legal profession would be celebrated appropriately at the State Bar's 2010 annual Meeting in Monterey.

A native of Richmond who graduated from Stanford University and the University of California at Davis law school, Johnson was selected by the board as executive director in 2000 after a vigorous search. At the time, she had served one complete four-year term as the State Bar's chief trial counsel and was into the second year of her renewed term as chief when she sought the move into the executive director's office, succeeding Steve Nissen, who had served in the position for two years before joining then - Governor Gray Davis' administration.

Johnson began her legal career as a legal aid attorney in Oakland. She then served as a San Francisco deputy district attorney in the consumer fraud unit. Before coming on staff as the State Bar's chief trial counsel, she served as a member of the bar's Board of Governors from 1990-1993, and before that as a member and chair of the State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners and as a member of the State Bar's Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission.

Founded in 1927 by the legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By January 2010, membership reached more than 226,000.