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

Legislative Policy

Formation of Legislative Policy

Legislative policy is formed by the NJSBA Board of Trustees, with the assistance of the Legislative Committee and the association’s sections and committees. The Legislative Committee consists of county and section/committee trustees and non-trustees who review and discuss legislation to recommend an overall position to the Board. The Committee may move a bill to the Board agenda with a recommendation or it can remand legislation back to a section or committee for further examination or analysis. The Committee’s recommendation gives the Board a high level of confidence that legislation has been carefully studied, not only by sections and committees requesting the Board’s policy determination, but by an independent committee, representing the views of the entire Association, other sections and committees and county affiliations. A final policy determination on legislation is the sole province of the Board of Trustees.

Legislative Policy-Making Process

The New Jersey State Bar Association legislative policy-making process involves the seven steps outlined below:

Step 1. After each meeting of the State Legislature, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Government Affairs Department reviews the listing of new bills introduced. The staff flags important bills and circulates the listing to section and/or committee chairs and legislative coordinators. These individuals are also part of the department’s broader fax network, which includes members of the State Legislature and members of Congress, among others.

Step 2. New Jersey State Bar Association sections and/or committees review the listing and request bills of interest. The Government Affairs Department also prepares a suggested agenda of bills for review by sections and/or committees.

Step 3. NJSBA sections and/or committees review the bills and decide to either support, oppose or take no position. The sections and/or committees may also choose to draft amendments to the bills or redraft the bills. Sections and/or committees are encouraged to proactively suggest reforms in the law by drafting legislation of interest to their practice areas.

Click here to access a Legislative Position Form

Click here for Lobbying Protocols

Step 4. The NJSBA Legislative Committee reviews section and/or committee recommendations and can vote to:

  • support a position taken by the sections and/or committees;

  • oppose a position taken by the sections and/or committees;

  • take no position;

  • refer the bill to additional sections and/or committees; or

  • refer the bill back to the originating sections and/or committee for further review.

Step 5. The NJSBA Board of Trustees, which has final policy-making authority, votes on each bill referred to it from the Legislative Committee. The Board of Trustees may:

  • support the section and/or committee recommendation;

  • oppose the section and/or committee recommendation;

  • take no position;

  • refer the bill to additional sections and/or committees;

  • refer the bill back to the originating sections and/or committees for further review; or

  • permit the sections and/or committees to speak on behalf of their groups only, in accordance with State Bar Association bylaws.

 If a conflict of interest exists between or among sections and/or committees, interested sections and/or committees may be invited to present their views to the Board. The Executive Committee may act on the Board of Trustees’ behalf on emergent legislation.

Step 6. Sections and/or committees and bill sponsors, and where appropriate, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and other related groups, are advised of the Legislative Committee and Board of Trustees action.

Step 7. The Government Afffairs Department implements the Board of Trustees policy decision on legislation.

Criteria for Review of Legislation

After giving due consideration to any individual piece of legislation and whether or not the same is within the scope of the NJSBA mission, the Board of Trustees, in determining whether or not to take a position on a particular bill and the priority to be given to any position so taken, should specifically include within their deliberations the following criteria:

  • The bill pertains to the practice of law or directly affects lawyers as lawyers. This should in no way be construed to discourage or limit the review of substantive areas of law/legislation by the Young Lawyers Division, Sections, Committees, Legislative Committee or Board of Trustees.

  • The bill affects public access to the judicial system or fairness in the administration of justice.

  • The bill relates to education of the public about the legal system and/or the public's legal rights.

NJSBA sections and committees should be more circumspect in taking positions on legislation and be sensitive to whether a particular bill is relevant to the NJSBA mission in the first instance and secondly whether any of the three criteria set forth above come into play in assigning a suggested priority position.

NJSBA Board of Trustees Policy on Confidentiality of Legislative Materials

Click here for Policy on Confidentiality of Legislative Materials

Legislative Issues

As the voice of New Jersey attorneys, the NJSBA has:

Worked closely with the Legislature, the governor and others on civil liability, judicial appointment and budgetary issues.

Advocated continued federal and state funding for Legal Services of New Jersey and the Legal Services Corporation.

Assisted the AOC and others on funding for the judiciary and related matters.

Obtained passage of legislation and monitored issues of concern to lawyers and their clients, including:

  • Mandatory pro bono assignment

  • Family law

  • Automobile insurance reform, negligence and consumer protection and safety issues

  • Elder and health and hospital law

  • Workers' compensation

  • Trusts and estates

  • Real property and land use issues

  • Domestic, corporate and international business and banking law

  • Municipal court practice matters

  • Criminal law

  • Civil liability

Member Recognition

The Annual Distinguished Legislative Service Award is presented to the NJSBA member(s) who helps to further the advancement of the Association’s legislative efforts.

NJSBA Member Legislative Resources

  • Legislative advocacy.

  • Weekly legislative update in the "Capitol Report" in the New Jersey Law Journal. This report is summarized on the NJSBA website at http://www.njsba.com/resources/gov-affairs/capitol-report/index.html.

  • Computerized bill tracking and monitoring.

  • Free copies of new laws, bills and regulations.

  • Legislative history, legislative committee agendas, legislative calendars, bill amendments and bill profiles.

  • Legislative research.

  • Legislative updates for section newsletters.

 Information

The New Jersey State Bar Association's award-winning Government Affairs Department, which consists of full-time attorney/lobbyists and an administrative assistant, advocates on behalf of NJSBA members. Our efforts include:

  • Providing public testimony on legislation before the Legislature.

  • Establishing contacts between NJSBA members and federal and state legislators at the American Bar Association's Annual Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in the State Legislature and other activities.

  • Building a consensus among constituencies to bolster cooperation between various groups and the NJSBA.

  • Prepare the "Capitol Report" in the New Jersey Law Journal to keep members informed of the latest legislative activity in Trenton.

  • Working with sections and committees to proactively draft legislation and suggest reforms in the law to respective areas of practice.

  • Sharing of information between the NJSBA and county and specialty bar associations on legislative issues.

Contact us at:

New Jersey State Bar Association
New Jersey Law Center
One Constitution Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1520
732-249-5000
Fax: 732-249-2815
www.njsba.com