Senate confirms Kim as State Bar’s top prosecutor

Contact: Laura Ernde                        415-538-2028                          laura.ernde@calbar.ca.gov

Sacramento – May 23, 2012 – The Senate Rules Committee today unanimously confirmed Jayne Kim to a four-year term as chief trial counsel, the State Bar announced.

Kim, 43, has served as interim chief trial counsel since September. Under her leadership, bar prosecutors eliminated a long-running investigatory backlog, defined as a complaint pending in investigations for more than six months.

At the end of 2010, there were more than 1,200 active investigations pertaining to complaints six months old or older. By the end of 2011, there were eight, all of which were in the hands of outside examiners.

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel also made significant progress in reducing its backlog of post-investigation matters that were awaiting the filing of formal charges or resolution.  At the end of 2010, there were 822 such post-investigation complaints more than six months old. By the end of 2011, that number was reduced to a historic low of 188.

To tackle the backlog, Kim improved the office’s organizational structure, increasing staff accountability and emphasizing training and development. All along, Kim has practiced a zero tolerance policy for attorney professional misconduct.

Rules Committee Chairman Darrell Steinberg commended Kim for the progress her office has made on a problem that had plagued the bar for decades. By statute, the chief trial counsel’s position requires Senate confirmation.

State Bar President Jon Streeter, who testified on behalf of Kim at today’s confirmation hearing, said Kim is a natural leader who inspires the prosecutors in her office to do their best work.

“This is an intangible that one finds in few people,” Streeter said. “I could not be more proud to have this true professional serving in an agency I’ve been privileged to lead.”

In 2011, OCTC received more than 16,000 complaints against California lawyers and opened nearly 5,000 new investigations, according to the most recent Annual Discipline report. Formal discipline was imposed in 1,573 cases, resulting in the disbarment or suspension of 394 lawyers.

Kim, who started her career as a public defender in Los Angeles County, has also worked as a bar staff prosecutor and assistant chief trial counsel. She spent three years as assistant U.S. Attorney before returning to the bar as acting chief trial counsel .

Kim is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.

Editor's note: On June 11, Kim was unanimously confirmed by the full Senate.

###

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 May 2012, membership reached 237,000.