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Kim Not Returning to California State Bar

(CN) - Jayne Kim will not be returning as the California State Bar's chief trial counsel, the organization announced Thursday.

Her departure comes after bar employees cast a "no confidence" vote against Kim in October, ahead of the bar's decision on whether to reappoint her.

"This is the right time for me to move on," Kim said in a statement. "In declining to seek reappointment I leave with a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence that the bar is on the right track to become an exemplary model of a mission-driven agency."

Kim had wanted to leave earlier, but State Bar President David Pasternak said in a statement that she was asked to see the organization through its leadership overhaul. In 2014, it hired a new general counsel, Thomas Miller. It also named former Alameda Superior Court Clerk Leah Wilson as its chief operating officer in 2015.

"Jayne has only stayed on as chief trial counsel this long because the board asked her to see us through a period of tremendous evolution and transformation," Pasternak said. "Our new leadership team is now solidly in place and has profited tremendously from her steady hand at the helm of the OCTC."

Kim's five-year tenure was punctuated by controversy, most notably a lawsuit filed against her and the bar by her one-time boss, former State Sen. Joseph Dunn.

Dunn was fired as the bar's executive director in 2014, and in a whistleblower action claimed that Kim, who he brought on in 2011 to head the group's disciplinary unit, actually removed 269 cases from its backlog to make her office appear more productive.

But as the litigation ran its course, the bar said Dunn's firing was the result of his own ethical foibles, and that prior to his ousting, Kim had filed a complaint with the bar over his improper use of funds and questionable political decisions. An arbitrator recently dismissed Dunn's action, but his attorney Mark Geragos said they will amend Dunn's complaint.

Kim's office also came under fire recently by the California State Auditor, which said in a scathing report last year that in its push to shorten the backlog, it rushed disciplinary cases, was soft on offending attorneys and spent $50 million over-budget to renovate its building in Los Angeles.

The State Bar said that under Kim's direction, the backlog of disciplinary cases has dropped to 1,500, the lowest number since 2009.

"Whenever you have an agent of change, an agent who creates a culture of accountability where before there was not one, there are bound to be ruffled feathers, but the results speak for themselves," said bar trustee Dennis Mangers in a statement.

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