More Politics at the Oregon State Bar

Gender and Misconduct and Misinformation, Oh My!

*** UPDATE: Amber Hollister Apparently Ousted from OWLS in Response to this Article; More Information Below ***

Back in 1967, the Oregon State Bar (OSB) established the Client Security Fund (CSF) to help reimburse clients for losses “caused by the dishonest conduct” of attorneys.

The CSF is kept afloat by a yearly fee imposed on all active attorneys, which ranges wildly depending on how big a hit the fund took the prior year. The fund is continuously assessed to determine how much money needs to be pumped into it to keep it at a $1 million reserve. That reserve level was set to avoid a repeat of the catastrophic period of 2012 to 2013 — a span of time so bad that it practically has woeful folk songs written about it.

That mess was due to attorney Bryan Gruetter, who almost single-handedly drained the once-healthy fund. Amazingly, back then in the simpler times of 2012, nobody thought to blame his dishonesty and misconduct on his gender.

Welcome to 2019, the time when all anyone can do is blame dishonesty and misconduct on gender. And Amber Hollister, General Counsel of the Oregon State Bar, is, ironically, doing so deceptively… and on members’ dimes.

In January 2019’s issue of the Bulletin, the OSB’s monthly disbarment round-up and self-congratulations-fest, there appeared an article about the CSF written by Hollister, entitled “An Increase In Claims.”

The article warned that the fund had received 82 claims in the past year, a “stark increase” over the 48 claims it had received in each prior year. Even more alarming was that those claims totaled $2.4 million, which was more than half the amount that the CSF had given out in all of its 50 years combined. Why yes, that certainly does sound stark.

To illustrate her article, Hollister gave brief blurbs regarding eight attorneys, with their name alongside the amount that they were going to cost members: G. Jefferson Campbell ($18,842), Roger Gray ($2,000), E. Andrew Long ($3,240), etc. All eight were identifiably male.

In the next issue of the Bulletin, the editor ran a letter from attorney Linda Rudnick, titled “Gender Observations.” Rudnick opined that it was “telling” that Hollister’s article listed only “male members.”

Rudnick can be forgiven for being ignorant of the actual status of the CSF and the actual details of the claims, and for simplistically and gleefully believing that only male attorneys are dishonest — because that was what she was being manipulated into believing by Hollister’s article.

Hollister, however, can plead no such ignorance — her holding eight men high as exemplars of dishonesty and the worst perpetrators of misconduct is in and of itself false-hearted and deceitful. And her disingenuousness absolutely appears to be motivated by politics.

In reality, the rolling spreadsheet of CSF claims shows almost the complete opposite of the MEN BAD narrative that Hollister deliberately misrepresented to OSB members from her pulpit at the bar.

Note all the claims (ironically) highlighted in pink in the far right column. Those are all from a single attorney, Lori Deveny, whose practice and client files the OSB was “awarded” in October 2018. Those claims total $910,666.

Look more closely at the spreadsheet and you’ll see another name, not highlighted: attorney Pamela Hediger. Her sixteen claims total $335,743.

Together, the two women account for $1,246,409 of the $1,624,999 in outstanding and payable CSF claims¹. That’s almost 77%. Using simple math, that would mean that, for this period at least, men are responsible for less than 23% of all the dishonestin’ that got done did in Oregon last year. Whelp!

Let’s say it again in the way that Hollister would if she were being more reliable: two very bad lady lawyers account for over three quarters of all the open Client Security Fund claims, Lori Deveny ($910,666), and Pamela Hediger ($335,743).

OWLS Charter Members.

So yes, Linda Rudnick, charter member of Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS), in a way, you are right… It is telling that Amber Hollister, current president of OWLS, used eight men as examples in her article on dishonest attorneys. It is very telling.

None of this should sit well with men or women. Tell the OSB and OWLS how you feel about this deliberate skewing of information by Amber Hollister. There is no room for this type of essentialist organ-grinding by the General Counsel of the Bar.

And of even more concern, it should make everyone wonder what else the OSB is deliberately misrepresenting for political purposes. And if, some day, the OSB will make a false example of you.

Time for another $1.15 refund on those dues.

UPDATE:

Since this article first appeared on March 25, 2019, Amber Hollister was apparently retro-canned back to March 9th, the date of the Roberts & Deiz Awards Dinner, where she was photographed making big, presidential grins with Governor Kate Brown.

Luckily, I also have a wayback machine: it’s real and it’s fabulous.

Here’s the link to OWLS Board of Directors page from March 25th (which is also screenshat at left).

Note that the “term of officers and directors of Oregon Women Lawyers runs from May 1 through April 30.”

This makes what happened next super awkward and truly ridiculous: at some point in the past four days, the Board of Directors replaced Hollister with the incoming president, but claimed that her term had actually started on March 9th — 52 days earlier than Hollister’s term should have ended.

As if we cannot read or don’t understand how calendars work.

One must not waste time marveling at this manic and reactionary decision: these are the same people, after all, who elected to scour their website of any mention of former president (2001–2002) Lori Deveny

That scrubbing of Deveny was done during President Hollister’s term, possibly at her suggestion and certainly with her knowledge.

I guess that OWLS thinks that rewriting history fixes a problem, as though the ‘problem’ was the appearance of dishonesty and corruption.

Unfortunately for the Oregon public, the problem is actual dishonesty and corruption. And spraying virtual Febreze doesn’t make that stink go away.

Stay tuned in April for more and worse on the Oregon State Bar’s Client Security Fund…

¹ CSF claims have an individual $50,000 limit, meaning that if a claimant lost $75,000 for instance, the fund could only reimburse them for $50,000. This is the reason for the discrepancy between total claim amounts and actually payable amounts.

² Also scrubbed was Deveny’s presidency (2014–2016) of OWLS Foundation.