Contact: Laura Ernde 


SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 2014 – State Bar Board of Trustees President Luis J. Rodriguez has selected 24 people to serve on the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force. The first meeting is set for March 26 in Los Angeles.

The task force will analyze the reasons for and potential solutions to the “justice gap” – the gap between the need for civil legal assistance by low- and moderate-income Californians and the resources available to meet that need. The group also intends to confront the cost of legal education and student indebtedness and how it negatively impacts access to the profession and access to low cost legal services.

“As an attorney with the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office for close to 20 years, I have seen the devastation felt by my clients and their families when trying to seek justice in the civil sector,” said Rodriguez, who will chair the task force. “As a matter of public protection, the bar can’t let this problem go unaddressed.”

The members of the task force are: Ana Maria Garcia, supervising attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County; Bryant Yang, associate, Irell & Manella LLP; Carole Conn, director of public service programs, The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF); Christina M. Fialho, co-founder/executive director, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement; Craig Holden, partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and board of trustees member; David A. Torres, criminal defense lawyer and board of trustees member; Donna Ford, U. S. Attorney’s Office (Ret.), Los Angeles County Bar Access to Justice Committee; 4th District Court of Appeal Justice Douglas Miller, a member of the Judicial Council of California; Earl Johnson Jr., 2nd District Court of Appeal (Ret.), visiting scholar at University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Eleanor Lumsden, associate professor at Golden Gate University School of Law; Harvey Saferstein, member of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC and former president of the State Bar; Hernán D. Vera, president and CEO of Public Counsel and a board of trustees member; James W. Meeker, professor at the University of California at Irvine; Janet McGinnis, McGinnis Law Office; Joanne E. Caruso, vice president and director of global litigation, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.; John W. Adkins, director of libraries, San Diego Law Library; Julie S. Paik, director of Sonoma County Child Support Services; 2nd District Court of Appeal Justice Laurie D. Zelon; Marty Omoto, executive director of the California Disability Community Action Network; Michael G. Ermer, partner, Irell & Manella LLP; Michael Judge, Chief Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles (Ret.); Miriam A. Krinsky, a lawyer, educator and member of the board of trustees; Nina Baumler, Law Office of Nina Baumler; and Sonia Gonzales, executive director of the California Bar Foundation.

At a series of public hearings this spring and summer, the task force will seek the input of groups that have long struggled to expand access to justice. The task force will analyze which efforts have succeeded, study creative solutions from other states and countries and develop a proposed action plan for the board of trustees that includes recommendations appropriate for the legal profession.

Those interested in following the work may sign up for email notification of meeting notices on the task force’s web page.


The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting 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. Membership now stands at about a quarter million.