New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

July 15, 2011

The following is a summary of actions taken at the July, 15, 201,1 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.

Pension for public attorneys and judges: The trustees supported a pair of resolutions calling for the repeal of recently adopted pension and benefits legislation as it pertains to sitting judges and full-time public attorneys in state and municipal positions.

The Trustees felt the recent pension reduction “would have a severe impact on our Judiciary’s ability to accomplish its mission to provide New Jersey citizens with timely consideration of their cases by encouraging many tenured judges to retire, which will remove our most experienced judicial personnel from the bench,” the resolution related to judges states.

With respect to government attorneys, including prosecutors, public defenders, deputy attorneys general and many others, the Trustees felt the legislation would “have a severe impact on the ability of full-time government attorneys to continue to work for the State or municipalities… such a result will have a negative impact on the government’s ability to fulfill its duties to the public,” the resolution states.

Day of Service Project: The New Jersey State Bar Association is proud to partner with many county and specialty bar associations and other interested groups to hold a Day of Service event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On Sept. 12, the Judiciary has reserved a room in each of the state’s 21 county courthouses where volunteer attorneys can provide information about the legal process to the public. In addition, volunteers, court personnel and the public may also observe a moment of silence to mark the time when the final tower fell. An organizational meeting was scheduled for July 19 to outline the program goals, learn best practices of already-established county bar association programs, and provide information about materials and support the NJSBA can provide.

Pro Bono Task Force: Approval was granted to establish the Pro Bono Task Force: Closing the Justice Gap. Karen Sacks, executive director of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, and Emily Goldberg, Director of Pro Bono at McCarter & English LLP, have been appointed to chair the task force which will, with the assistance of the State Bar Pro Bono Committee, examine the legal service provider landscape in New Jersey. “The overriding goal of the NJSBA Pro Bono Task Force is to make recommendations that will encourage and expand pro bono participation by the private bar,” according to its mission statement. The Task Force members will meet on Sept. 13.

Bylaw changes: Approval was granted to put forth to the membership for a vote several changes to the State Bar Association’s bylaws, including:

o   A county trustee must either live in the county, work in the county, or primarily practice and belong to the county bar association in the county they represent.

o   Clarification that a vacancy in a Nominating Committee position elected by the general membership should be filled in the same manner as a vacancy in any other elected position.

o   Clarification that section elections be held before the Annual Meeting, and the results should be announced at the event.

o   Establishment of a Continuing Legal Education Advisory Committee as a standing committee.

o   Clarification that the President has the ability to fill any non-elected vacancy on any committee, regardless of the reason for the vacancy.

o   Clarification that the makeup of JPAC is governed by the manual, approved periodically by the Board of Trustees.

Government affairs:

Adoption records: The NJSBA enjoyed a significant victory when Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed S-799/S-1399 (Vitale), which would have provided open access to adoption records in New Jersey. The NJSBA was a member of the New Jersey Coalition for Privacy In Adoption, which included the ACLU-NJ, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey, National Coalition on Adoption, New Jersey Catholic Conference, and New Jersey Right to Life.

The NJSBA opposed the legislation because it made no provision for protecting the privacy of birth parents who gave up their children with an expectation of privacy. The Governor’s recommendations incorporated substitute legislation, endorsed earlier this year by the NJSBA Board of Trustees, which provided for the use of a confidential intermediary. The proponents of the legislation are unlikely to recommend that the Legislature endorse the Governor’s recommendations, but the coalition is working to try and achieve just that. The enactment of the Governor’s changes would put the issue to rest.

Increased fees: A discussion was held on A-4197 (Barnes), which provides for new and increased court application fees to fund Legal Services of New Jersey and the Judiciary’s computerized court information systems. Final consideration was deferred until more information can be gathered from the Administrative Office of the Courts, county bar associations and State Bar Association sections and committees.

Website: The Association’s new website along with CommunityNET, a social networking tool, is expected to launch later this month. Likewise, NJICLE recently launched a new website, and in the next few days customers will be able to buy online video CLE seminars.

New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association: The Board added the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association to the list of specialty bar associations enumerated in the bylaws, entitling it to have members serve as delegates to the State Bar Association’s General Council.

Privacy Law Committee: A charge was approved for the Special Committee on Privacy Law. The group will provide “a forum for discussion and information about the sophisticated and practical concepts of privacy law, information security and data protection and how they impact a broad spectrum of law,” the charge states. 

Designation of underrepresented groups: The Association’s bylaws require the Board to annually designate underrepresented groups. At-large seats have traditionally been reserved for members who are African-American; Hispanic; Asian-Pacific; over 70-years-old; or gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. There are three general at-large seats. Approval was granted that one of those seats be reserved for a woman.

Professional Lawyer of the Year award: Charles Uliano was selected as the State Bar Association’s designee for Professional Lawyer of the Year. Uliano is the immediate past chair of JPAC and a partner in the firm of Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington. His practice focuses on criminal and civil litigation. He will receive the award at the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law reception this fall.

New Jersey State Bar Foundation support: The trustees agreed that the dues invoice for the Association will reflect an increase to $25 in the voluntary contribution check-off for the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. The change was made as part of an effort to boost the Foundation’s operating revenue stream as the funds generated from the voluntary contributions have dropped in recent years. State Bar members may opt to contribute more, less or nothing; however, the dues form will show $25 as the suggested amount.

Upcoming events:

Shredding party: July 21, 6 p.m. – This is the latest in what has been a successful effort to reach out to members. For a deep discount, members can come and shred documents. A free barbeque will be held, sponsored by Investors Savings Bank.

Women’s Bench-Bar Conference: The second annual conference of the Women in the Profession Section is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the New Jersey Law Center. This year’s theme will explore women rising up the ladder, with a focus on government, and will highlight high-profile speakers as well as break-out sessions. More details about speakers will be coming soon.