January 27, 2012
The following is a summary of actions taken at the Jan. 27, 2012, 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.
Marriage equality legislation: Immediate Past President Richard Steen and Thomas Snyder, past chair of the Family Law Section, testified in Trenton recently on the proposed marriage equality legislation, consistent with the previously endorsed New Jersey State Bar Association position that legislation in support of marriage equality should be adopted, as the existing civil union and domestic partnership laws failed to achieve the constitutionally mandated equality of rights, benefits and obligations the New Jersey Supreme Court set forth in Lewis v. Harris.
Diversity Summit: The 2012 Diversity Summit will feature a panel to discuss the financial implications of diversity. In addition the day will offer a chance to learn more about the resources available on the issue, and to workshop on the long-term diversity plan for the New Jersey State Bar Association. Several county and specialty bar associations have agreed to co-sponsor, including Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex and Hudson counties, as well as the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and Black Women Lawyers Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association of New Jersey, Garden State Bar Association, and Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey. In addition, the Trustees approved a new, limited-time membership promotion to members of the specialty bar associations, offering their existing members 50 percent off one year of membership in the State Bar Association, if they do not already belong. The membership initiative will be announced at the Diversity Summit and will last for three months. The Association is also a co-sponsor of a diversity event at Seton Hall University on March 15. President Susan A. Feeney is scheduled to speak at both events.
Proposed bylaw changes: The Trustees approved proposals to change the bylaws related to elections that will be voted on by the membership in an upcoming election. Among the approved potential bylaw changes were a clarification that when there are multiple nominees for a position the challenger must challenge all of them, and that the Board should have the authority to resolve any controversies over Election Committee decisions, as governed by a policy manual. The Trustees also agreed that the Bylaws Committee should draft a proposal to handle run-off elections, which will be considered at a future Board of Trustees meeting.
Continuing legal education policies: The Board adopted policies related to speaker reimbursement, scheduling of events and signing of contracts related to the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, a division of the Association. The policies will be added to the Association’s Policy Manual.
American Bar Association: The Trustees took action on a pair of measures that will be taken up at the American Bar Association’s Mid-Year Meeting, to be held in New Orleans beginning Feb. 1.
- Ethics 20/20: The Trustees opposed a proposal put forth in an Ethics 20/20 Commission discussion paper to allow non-attorney ownership of law firms. In opposing the idea, the Trustees adopted a report from the Professional Responsibility and Unlawful Practice Committee, saying there is great value in maintaining a system where law firm owners are personally accountable to the public, the bar and Judiciary.
- The Trustees took no position on Resolution 105, which is pending before the House of Delegates, but encouraged the Association’s delegates to instead encourage other states to create a fee arbitration system as a fair and cost-efficient way to resolve disputes.
Mid-Year Meeting: The 2011 Mid-Year Meeting in Dublin was a success, and showed a profit. The Trustees approved a site visit to explore Rome as the potential location for the 2013 Mid-Year Meeting.
New member benefit: Association members will receive a 55 percent discount on Kimball office furniture at an event, approved by the Trustees, to be held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.
Law Day YouTube contest: The Trustees approved a grant request from the Association’s Young Lawyers Division to fund the 2012 Law Day Program. Central to the program is a YouTube contest to encourage New Jersey middle and high school students to film their own Law Day video. This year’s theme is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.” Contest winners will take part in a ceremony in Trenton on Law Day.
Pass the Bar breakfast: In a continuing effort to encourage newly admitted attorneys to join the Association, an inaugural breakfast event was held on a recent Saturday morning at the Law Center. Nearly 40 new attorneys took part in the event, which included a discussion on marketing, the benefits of membership, and an explanation of the expertise the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education can offer navigating mandatory continuing legal education.
Hughes anniversary celebration: Over 100 prominent lawyers, judges and politicians took part in a ceremony at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the governor’s inauguration and celebrate his life dedicated to the law. The ceremony also marked the unveiling of a large exhibit that will remain on display at the complex highlighting Hughes’ achievements as both chief justice and governor. President Feeney and New Jersey State Bar Foundation President Stuart Lederman spoke at the event.