June 21, 2013
NJSBA TRUSTEES REPORT
The following is a summary of actions taken at the June 21, 2013 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.
Budget: The trustees adopted the 2013-2014 budget, which was introduced at a Board of Trustees meeting in March and subject to a public hearing at the Annual Meeting and Convention in May. It projects $12.2 million in revenue from anticipated growth in membership, and the continued success of events such as the Annual Meeting and Convention and other educational offerings the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education provides, including seminars, e-books and webinars. The budget anticipates $11.6 million in expenses, corresponding to administration costs, technology needs to improve electronic information and additional services to members.
Amicus: The trustees granted the Executive Committee authority to determine the course of action related to developments surrounding State v. Chun, a case that led to the Alcotest 7110 replacing the Breathalyzer several years ago. Recent developments indicate that the Alcotest will be phased out, leading to motions and cross-motions about the future use of the test. The association was admitted as an amicus party in the original matter and many of its recommendations were adopted by the high court.
Under-represented groups: As a way to ensure there are leadership opportunities for lawyers from all backgrounds, the trustees addressed what groups are under represented and should be eligible for at-large seats on the board. As part of its annual review of the designation of what groups are under represented, the trustees determined one each of the at-large trustee seats should be designated for a women, a lawyer over 70, an African-American lawyer, a Hispanic lawyer, a lawyer of Asian-Pacific heritage, and a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyer. Two additional at-large seats will be undesignated and open to lawyers of any of the under-represented groups. That structure continues the practice now in place. Under the bylaws, the designations give guidance to the Nominating Committee.
Criminal law: Following a request to create a Megan’s Law Committee, the trustees referred the proposal to the Criminal Law Section.
Representation of clients in marijuana business: Following the recommendation of the association’s Professional Responsibility and Unlawful Practice Committee, the trustees said its delegates to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates should vote their conscious on a resolution that urges lawyer disciplinary agencies to not take action against lawyers who counsel clients related to state laws legalizing the possession and use of marijuana. The trustees further agreed the association should recommend to the Supreme Court that it construe Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(d) so that lawyers can advise clients on state laws without fear of prosecution.
Filing fee update: The Assembly moved S-2207 and A-3308 to modernize the Judiciary’s technology platform and provide funding to Legal Services of New Jersey. Legislative Committee Chair Fruqan Mouzon testified in support of the bill on June 6 before the Assembly Judiciary Committee. This legislation is the product of NJSBA efforts to broker a compromise with the Legislature. The Assembly Budget Committee recently amended the bill so that collected money first goes to Legal Services of New Jersey, and then the New Jersey Judiciary. The Judiciary opposes the change because if there is ever a shortfall in filing fee collections, the Judiciary could lose funding. The NJSBA has no position on these amendments.
Collaborative Law Act: The trustees granted high priority support to the Collaborative Law Act, which was drafted by the New Jersey Law Revision Commission. The act addresses attorneys who are retained to assist a client resolve a family law matter in a voluntary, non-adversarial manner, without court intervention.
Outreach to solos: In an effort to continue to reach out to attorneys in solo and small firms, the New Jersey State Bar Association will once again offer a free educational seminar and networking opportunity for people launching their own legal practice. On September 21, the association will hold “Suddenly Successful: Making the Transition to Solo Practice” at the New Jersey Law Center. This is the latest in a series of programs the state bar association has held to assist attorneys who decide to open their own firm either because of the economic recession or simply because they want a change in their professional path.
Co-sponsorship: The trustees approved a request from the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section to co-sponsor an event in mid-July at Red Bulls stadium with the Sports Law Association. The event will include a continuing legal education lecture with the general counsel of the Red Bulls, a stadium tour and networking reception.