Board of Trustees Report, July 13, 2017

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the July 13, 2017, 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. 

Legal services providers: The NJSBA helped to shine a national spotlight on the issues of fee sharing and the role of legal service plan providers when it asked state officials for a review of Avvo, Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom’s practices. Earlier this summer, a joint opinion of three New Jersey Supreme Court regulatory committees found New Jersey lawyers cannot participate in Avvo, as it violates ethics rules in improperly requiring attorneys to share legal fees with a nonlawyer and pay referral fees. The opinion also found LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer appear to be operating as prepaid legal service plans and that New Jersey attorneys could not participate with them because they were unregistered at the time. (Since the opinion, one of the companies has filed for registration.) The association is continuing to monitor the developments related to the issues raised in the opinion since it will have wide-ranging implications on legal professionals, especially the large number of New Jersey attorneys who are in solo and small firms. The board directed its committee examining the issues to continue its work.
New trustee: The association’s Board of Trustees approved the selection of Janice Heinold to serve as the Burlington County trustee. She practices in the areas of real estate, workers’ compensation, estate administration, and civil litigation. She has extensive experience with professional organizations and is a past president of the Burlington County Bar Association and the Burlington County Bar Foundation. Read Heinold’s bio here. Heinold replaces the former trustee from the county, Edward Hoffman, who was appointed to the Superior Court bench.
Diverse Speakers series: The trustees approved a roster of speakers for the Diversity Committee’s Distinguished Speaker, Diverse Voices program. The speakers include Simon Tam, an Asian-American musician, author and activist whose rock band, The Slants, won a trademark suit at the U.S. Supreme Court that centered on expanding First Amendment rights for minorities. He will take part in a program examining Supreme Court cases on Sept. 23 at the New Jersey Law Center. In addition, the series will feature Jarrett Adams, who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and served 10 years in prison before being exonerated, and has since attended Loyola University Chicago Law School. He is expected to appear at the Law Center in February. Additionally, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who suffered injuries in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing and whose sister was one of the four little girls killed that day, will be a featured speaker at the annual Diversity Luncheon at the Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlantic City next May.
General Council election: The trustees voted to recommend the General Council offer electronic voting starting this year when its members select a person to serve on the NJSBA’s Nominating Committee. The move to electronic voting, which has been used by the New Jersey State Bar Association in the past, is meant to encourage more of the roughly 800 members of the body to participate in the election since those who cannot attend an in-person meeting or do not request an absentee ballot in advance will still have the opportunity to cast a ballot. General Council includes leaders of the association, New Jersey State Bar Foundation, and county and diverse and affinity bar associations, as governed by the association’s bylaws. The group makes recommendations through resolutions to the association’s Board of Trustees on matters affecting the membership and the legal community at large.
Annual Meeting and Convention: The New Jersey State Bar Association will return to Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City for its Annual Meeting and Convention next year and in 2019. The association has held its convention, the premiere annual event of the New Jersey legal community, at the location for 10 years. The event last year brought together over 3,100 attorneys and judges for 105 legal education programs and dozens of networking gatherings. The event also features the installation of the association’s president. The 2018 meeting will be held May 16-18. Click here to find out more.
American Bar Association resolution: The trustees recommended the association’s representatives to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates consider supporting a resolution, which would encourage authorities to support fair and just implementation of laws related to feral cat populations in municipalities.