March 26, 2010
The following is a summary of actions taken at the March 26, 2010 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.
After a wide-ranging discussion, the board approved the creation of three ad-hoc committees to examine the make-up of the Board of Trustees; study the rules, policies and regulations of the Nominating Committee, which vets and picks the association's leaders; and examine the selection process for members of the Nominating Committee, including determining whether the General Council selection process can be improved.
The examination is the culmination of recommendations from entities within the bar association made over the past two years to ensure adequate representation in leadership from underrepresented groups, its sections and committees and people from county bar associations.
The board voted to approve a proposed $5.1 million budget for the New Jersey State Bar Association's coming fiscal year. The proposed budget includes belt-tightening, while still investing in infrastructure upgrades and producing conventions and events that keep its members up-to-date on the developments in the law. It includes a $58,000 profit from a combination of factors, including a minor uptick in revenues, and cuts in expenses such as printing, promotional efforts and computer and phone costs.
The budget will be published in the New Jersey Law Journal in the coming weeks, and a public hearing will be held at the Annual Meeting and Convention in May. The board will take a final vote on the budget at its meeting in June.
Annual Meeting and Convention and Solo and Small Firm Conference: Registration is already nearly 600 people for the Annual Meeting and Convention, when at this time last year is was at 98 registrants. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has authorized a "training day" so that law clerks can attend a day of the convention at a reduced rate and has encouraged judges to allow their clerks to take part. Also, on Wednesday, May 19, the NJSBA will hold its first Solo and Small-Firm Conference to reach out to the largest segment of NJSBA members, solo and small firm attorneys. The conference will focus on the practical aspects of running of law firm, from marketing, to lining up a phone and Internet provider, to ethics.
The NJSBA-drafted Senate Bill 914 (Gill) passed both houses. It would allow professional corporations to use or register an alternate name and allow use of certain abbreviations in certain business names.
Attorney General Paula Dow
The Executive Committee and Association staff are slated to have a meeting with Attorney General Paula Dow on April 22. The meeting is to discuss issues of mutual concern, including an update on the Chun case, gang initiatives, and budget issues. Dow is also slated to address a section meeting at the New Jersey Law Center that day.
Pro Bono awards
The board approved John G. Webb III and John Todaro as this year's winners of the Pro Bono Committee's annual award. Webb, a former general counsel, has volunteered with Pro Bono Partnership to provide help to an inner-city arts organization, a therapy dogs group and an affordable housing organization. Todaro has supported Volunteer Lawyers for Justice's mission to provide legal help for the poor. He normally works on patent issues, but organized a clinic to provide bankruptcy assistance, helping over 35 clients.
In other action, the board of trustees voted to
- Support American Bar Association and New York State Bar Association measures to "examine any effort" of U.S. News and World Reports and Best Lawyers to publish a ranking of the best law firms in America.
- Write to the New Jersey Supreme Court in support of a proposal to change the rules of professional conduct so all unsolicited mailings to members of the public from attorneys include the word "advertising" on the envelope.
- Approve several new benefits for members of the bar association, including discounts for supplies, computers and servers from Hewlett Packard, discounts from the online data backup company e-Tegrity/Comp U Nite, 15 percent off office supplies from Office Depot and 18 percent savings to some Verizon Wireless customers.
- Voted to require speakers at Annual Meeting and General Council events to pay registration, if they are attorneys who are eligible to be members of the State Bar Association.
Recent and Upcoming events
- Budget testimony: On April 19, President Etish testified on the budget before the Assembly Budget Committee.
- State bar nights: The New Jersey State Bar Association took part in events with the Monmouth County and Hudson County bar associations.
- National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts: President Etish is slated to speak at the opening session of the National Consortium on April 28. New Jersey is hosting the conference this year.
- Ninth Annual Military Law Symposium: On April 24th the NJSBA Military Law and Veterans Affairs' Section will honor Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto. Gov. Chris Christie has been invited to speak.