September 18, 2009
The following is a summary of actions taken at the September 18, 2009 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.
Lawyers in transition
Nearly 70 people attended the New Jersey State Bar Association's "Suddenly Solo" event for lawyers in transition. The event was a successful start to efforts to reach attorneys struggling due to the economy. Another event will be held in December in Livingston in conjunction with the Essex and Morris County Bar Associations. The Association is looking for additional opportunities to sponsor the sessions around the state.
Law Center construction:
This month, work began on a $6 million project to update and overhaul the 20-year-old New Brunswick building that serves as a focal point for the state's legal community and residents in search of guidance on legal issues. Open since 1987, the facility now serves over 15,000 residents and 25,000 lawyers each year. It is also home to a half-dozen organizations that are central to the state's legal community. When complete next spring, the Law Center will be outfitted with state-of-the-art communications technologies; hotel-style workstations for visitors; videoconferencing in all conference rooms capable of showing live and archived broadcasts of educational seminars via the Internet; and have a mock courtroom.
Meeting with Attorney General
Association executives will meet with New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram at the end of the month to discuss matters of interest.
The Association continues to adopt social media tools to keep members informed. It now has a Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter account.
President-Elect Richard Steen attended the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago this summer and reported a commission was established to examine ethics issues, dubbed Ethics 20/20. Early reports are that multidisciplinary practice will be a focus of the committee. The Association strenuously opposed the concept when it was raised several years ago, and stands ready to get involved when the issue is renewed.
Perceptions of race and gender in the courts:
The Board voted to comment on the Supreme Court's Committee on Women in the Courts recent report on race and gender issues. The Board applauded efforts to keep the dialogue moving forward on this important issue, and urged the courts to create specific methods and deadlines to adopt changes suggested in the report and develop a way to evaluate progress.
The Board of Trustees voted to participate in Stengart v. Loving Care, focusing on the issue of maintaining the attorney-client relationship as sacrosanct.
The Board granted permission to the Family Law Section to change its mission statement to reflect its role as a statewide leader on issues facing families.
The Mid-Year Meeting in San Francisco begins Nov. 3. All of the programming is now set and participants can earn up to six continuing legal education credits. The Board adopted a formal policy for reduced pricing for judges to attend the Association's Annual and Mid-Year Meetings.
As of Sept. 1, there are 34 vacancies in the state courts.
Ethics volunteer program
The state Office of Attorney Ethics is starting a pilot program aimed at resolving complex cases, in the event of a backlog. It is a two-phase program that places experienced attorney volunteers, primarily those with experience in the criminal justice system, with successful district ethics committees to learn the process. Attorneys who continue to the second phase will have primary oversight responsibility for certain non-financial complex cases.
President Allen A. Etish will attend State Bar nights at several county bar associations, including those in Burlington, Passaic and Cumberland counties. In addition, the Association is holding a member reception on Oct. 1. The Board also agreed the Association would cosponsor the upcoming events, "Pathways to the Judiciary" and the "Annual Minority Judges Reception."
New member benefits
The Board voted in favor of new member benefit programs offering discounts on subscriptions to NJ Biz newspaper, IKON document processing and copier equipment and service, and Nets and NJ Devils tickets.