Number of Elected California Lawyer-Legislators Increases Slightly

After falling to an all-time low during the last legislative session, the number of attorneys elected to the state Legislature crept back towards respectability on November 8.  With five more attorneys elected for the 2017-18 session than its predecessor, the total of 25 attorneys (20.83% of the Legislature) is more in keeping with the best totals since the 2007-08 session, and well above last session’s worst-in-California-history 16.67%

Most of the growth has been in the Assembly, which lost three lawyers (Democrats Luis Alejo and Mike Gatto and Republican Don Wagner) to term limits, but gained seven, for a net of four.  This brings the house total to 17 of 80 (21.25%), which is the highest number of attorneys in the lower house since 2008.

Two of the newly-elected Assembly lawyer-legislators are returnees:  Former prosecutor Al Muratsuchi reclaimed the 68th AD seat he lost in 2014 to Republican David Hadley, and former Assemblymember Anna Caballero returns to the Monterey County seat (now 30th AD) that she surrendered to become Jerry Brown’s Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency in 2011.

The new Assembly lawyer-legislators are:

  • Kevin Kiley (Republican, 6th AD, replacing termed out Beth Gaines) – former litigator with Irell & Manella and Deputy Attorney General.
  • Marc Berman (Democrat, 24th AD, replacing termed out Rich Gordon) – practiced with Latham & Watkins LLP and Merino Yebri, LLP.
  • Ash Kalra (Democrat, 27th AD, replacing termed out Nora Campos) – former Santa Clara County Deputy Public Defenders for 11 years.
  • Jordan Cunningham (Republican, 35th AD, replacing termed out Katcho Achadjian) – formerly an attorney in the Commercial Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and Deputy District Attorney for San Luis Obispo County. Currently practicing with his wife, Shauna, as the Cunningham Law Group, handling criminal and civil cases.
  • Eloise Reyes (Democrat, 47th AD, beat Democratic incumbent Cheryl Brown) – Owner of Law Offices of Eloise Gomez Reyes, focusing on labor and workers compensation law.

The newly-elected lawyer-lawmakers join 10 colleagues: Democrats Ken Cooley (8th AD), David Chiu (17th AD), Rob Bonta (18th AD), Mark Stone (29th AD), Ed Chau (40th AD), Richard Bloom (50th AD), and Lorena Gonzalez (80th AD), and Republicans James Gallagher (3rd AD, Catharine Baker (16th AD), and Brian Maienschein (77th AD).  Overall, the partisan split among the lawyer-legislators is 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

The change in the Senate was less significant, but still positive.  Only one lawyer-lawmaker (Marty Block of San Diego) left to pursue other interests, while two new ones were elected.  The result is a net gain of one lawyer, bringing the Senate total to eight (20%).  That’s still the second-lowest total in California’s history, but better than last year’s worst-ever seven.

The new Senate lawyer-legislators are:

  • Scott Wiener (Democrat, 11th SD, replacing termed out Mark Leno) – San Francisco Deputy City Attorney, previously with Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.
  • Henry Stern (Democrat, 27th SD, replacing termed out Fran Pavley) – practiced environmental law as an associate with Van Ness Feldman following a legal externship with the House Energy and Commerce Committee before becoming one of Senator Pavley’s top aides.

The new attorney Senators will join the current group of six:  Bob Wieckowski (10th SD), Bill Monning (17th SD), Bob Hertzberg (18th SD), Hannah-Beth Jackson (19th SD), Ben Allen (26th SD), and Richard Roth (31st SD).  For the third session in a row, there are no Republican lawyer-lawmakers in the state Senate.  The last Republican lawyer-lawmaker Senator was Tom Harman, who was termed out in 2012.

Overall, Republican attorneys hold only five of the 120 legislative seats (4%), compared to 32.5% overall, while Democratic lawyers constitute a more robust 16.7% (20 of 120 members), compared to 67.5% overall.

Session Assembly Lawyers A% Senate Lawyers S% Total Lawyers in Both Houses T%
1971-72 56 46.67%
1979-80 22 27.50% 16 40.00% 38 31.67%
1989-90 17 21.25% 19 47.50% 36 30.00%
2001-02 18 22.50% 15 37.50% 33 27.50%
2007-08 18 22.50% 10 25.00% 28 23.33%
2009-10 16 20.00% 9 22.50% 25 20.83%
2011-12 15 18.75% 9 22.50% 24 20.00%
2013-14 15 18.75% 11 27.50% 26 21.67%
2015-16 13 16.25% 7 17.50% 20 16.67%
2017-18 17 21.25% 8 20.00% 25 20.83%

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