November 5, 2009
Following is a summary of actions taken at the November 5, 2009 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at the the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
The Board of Trustees voted to add its voice to what is expected to be the final round of comments before the start of the mandatory continuing legal education program. In a letter to the Court from President Allen A. Etish, the New Jersey State Bar Association applauded the majority of the state Supreme Court’s plan to impose requirements that all lawyers continue their education throughout their legal career. However, the State Bar encouraged the Court to look outside the box for non-traditional learning experiences.
Under the proposed plan, attorneys would get legal education credits for participating in Inns of Court or teaching a seminar, but not for teaching law school or graduate-level class, writing scholarly works, working on district ethics or fee arbitration committees or taking part in New Jersey State Bar Foundation educational events. Should the Court be unprepared to allow those kind of opportunities when the program begins Jan. 1, the Bar Association asked it to direct an advisory board to “explore these opportunities for credit and to grant the board the authority to develop criteria for allowing for some credits to be earned through these non-traditional activities.”
The State Bar raised several other key issues in its letter to the Court:
- Since the education program will be a permanent fixture of New Jersey’s legal landscape, the Association should have a seat as a permanent member on the Board on Attorney Certification to monitor and offer suggestions for improvements.
- Attorneys who teach should receive three credits for every hour of instruction, because of the preparation required.
- Some credit should be given for pro bono work on the cases attorneys handle outside of their normal expertise.
- Some non-legal classes should be eligible for credit, such as medical courses for personal injury lawyers or forensic science classes for criminal defense attorneys.
- New attorneys who have completed some portion of the skills and methods courses, which will be eliminated under the new plan, should receive credit for the completed class work.
The Supreme Court granted permission to the State Bar to file a friend-of-the-court brief in Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, which questions whether an e-mail sent by an employee to her attorney using her employer's computer is privileged. The brief was filed. The Association also filed a motion seeking amicus status in Guido v. Duane Morris, a malpractice case filed two years after settlement in which a client claimed the settlement was not what had been expected.
Law Center construction
The $6 million project to upgrade the New Jersey Law Center is progressing smoothly and the work is meeting its time and cost targets. Already, two rooms, the Board Room and Strong Lounge, are complete and have been returned to active service. Work is now underway elsewhere on the first level and throughout the second level.
Minority judges’ reception
New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts Administrative Director Glenn Grant, who runs the day-to-day operation of the courts, was the featured speaker at this year’s 8th Annual Minority Judges Reception. Grant reported the past decade has brought substantial changes to the face of the courts. Ten years ago, there were 39 minority judges. Today, there are 66. Yet, he said, more work remains.
Pro Bono Week celebration
In honor of National Pro Bono Week, the State Bar’s Pro Bono Committee dedicated a plaque to honor its past and future award winners. It will hang in the Law Center when construction is complete.
- State Bar Night in Cumberland County on Nov. 30.
- The semi-annual New Attorney Swearing-In will be held Dec. 2 at the Trenton War Memorial. The ceremony includes about 800 newly minted attorneys and their families. For the first time, the State Bar is joining together with the Rutgers University law schools to host a reception following the event.
- The State Bar is holding a second event to reach out to lawyers displaced due to the economic conditions. “Suddenly Successful: Making the Transition to Solo Practice” will be held on Dec. 5 in Livingston. The event is free.
For more information
Visit our website, www.njsba.com, or call 732-249-5000.