December 9, 2011
The following is a summary of actions taken at the Dec. 9, 2011 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Judicial vacancies: The trustees adopted a resolution urging the Governor and Senate to put political considerations aside and take prompt action to fill all existing judicial vacancies, thereby maintaining the integrity of New Jersey’s justice system. It also calls on lawyers and other legal organizations across the state to contact their legislators and the Governor and urge them to do the same to ensure the courts are able to provide access to justice to all New Jersey citizens.
Potential increase in legal fees: The trustees adopted a resolution opposing an increase in filing fees because the Association has received no compelling information as to the justification or the amount of the proposed fee increases, which ultimately will place the cost and burden of upgrading the court system and providing legal assistance to indigent New Jersey citizens on users of the courts. It also calls upon the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government to fund the Judiciary and Legal Services of New Jersey from the general treasury.
Nominating Committee policies: As the deadline approaches for New Jersey State Bar Association members to declare their intent to seek leadership positions in the organization, the group’s governing body last week approved changes to the procedures governing the Nominating Committee.
The recently expanded committee, which is charged with interviewing candidates and recommending a slate of leaders, will begin its work after the new year with a handful of new policies meant to address conflicts of interest and other issues that could face members of the committee or those seeking leadership positions.
In addition to defining what constitutes a conflict of interest, and what should be done to resolve one, the new policies also say candidate endorsement letters from groups should include a form indicating who was involved in the discussion, and that the chair of the Nominating Committee should only vote to break a tie.
Audit: The trustees approved the state bar association’s audit of the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which shows the Association remains in a healthy financial position.
Withum Smith + Brown prepared the audit.
Madden exemption: The trustees agreed to request approval from the Court for an exemption from mandatory pro bono requirements for attorneys handling immigration matters.
Annual Meeting 2012: Registration fees will remain the same as last year for the Annual Meeting and Convention and Solo and Small-Firm Conference held in Atlantic City in May, the trustees voted.
General Council: The trustees referred issues to various state bar association sections and committees on the re-certification of lawyers who have already received certification from the Supreme Court, and issues related to the location, price and target audience of future Mid-Year Meetings. Action on these issues was in response to resolutions adopted at the General Council meeting in the fall.
ABA Ethics 20/20: A letter was sent to the American Bar Association Commission on Ethics 20/20 commenting on four proposed rule amendments. The state bar’s letter commented on:
- An amendment to R. 1.6 dealing with confidentiality when a lawyer switches firms and must divulge certain information for the purpose of conflicts checks
- An amendment to Rule 1.6 setting up a duty to prevent the unintended disclosure of client information to third parties
- An amendment to Rule 1.18 further defining the term “prospective client”
- An amendment to Rule 5.5 that would permit a lawyer admitted in one state to temporarily practice in another state while preparing for the bar exam, or other means of admission.
- An amendment to Rule 4.4 concerning the receipt of electronically stored information that was not intended to be disclosed.
Diversity Summit: NJSBA’s second annual Diversity Summit will be held February 15.
Government affairs: During the lame duck session, several measures drafted or supported by the Association are receiving attention. The Revised Uniform Limited Liability Act was introduced in the Assembly. The bill to reduce the statute of limitations related to professional malpractice claims against lawyers and other professionals is moving. Additional movement is occurring on bills related to property tax matters and whether police officers must advise motorists suspected of driving under the influence of their rights in a language they understand.