Board of Trustees Report, June 2020

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the June meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees. This meeting was held via conference call, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. This summary does not constitute official minutes.

Commission on Racial Equity in the Law: The board approved the creation of the NJSBA Commission on Racial Equity in the Law, a panel of leaders in the profession that will take an incisive study of the legal system to identify methods of addressing root causes of inequities in the profession and in the law. It will examine strategies that break down the barriers of systemic bias and discrimination and look specifically at ongoing anti-Black racism in the legal system and in the practice of law. Leading the Commission as co-chairs are Carolyn V. Chang, a Burlington County family lawyer, former mayor, and former president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey; and G. Glennon Troublefield, an Essex County commercial litigation and intellectual property lawyer, NJSBA Trustee, and past Chair of the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

Diversity and inclusion in MCLE requirements: The trustees supported a proposal to request that the New Jersey Supreme Court amend mandatory continuing legal education requirements for attorneys include programs on diversity, inclusion and the elimination of bias. While there are no easy solutions to combat persistent racism in our society, any solution must include the element of education, the NJSBA said. Read the letter here.

Annual budget approved: The trustees approved the Association’s budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The roughly $9.7 million budget reflects adjustments due to the ongoing financial crisis and public health pandemic. The plan continues to invest in the needs of members and producing events, seminars and conventions that keep members up-to-date and provide benefit to their practice and professional endeavors.

Section bylaws updated: The trustees approved an update to the Family Law Section’s bylaws to reflect that the Serptentelli Award is given each year to a retired judge for contributions to family law and the methodology for selection of that award; and a proposal from the Environmental Law Section to update its bylaws to include adding an officer at-large; requirements, elections, terms and removal of officers and directors; encouraging diversity in membership and using gender neutral language. Each section will finalize the changes.

Attorney-client privilege: Saying that the relationship between an attorney and client is sacrosanct and essential to the right of the accused to receive effective counsel, the trustees opposed a proposal from the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Working Group on the Duty of Confidentiality and Wrongful Convictions to modify RPC 1.6(g). The modifications would have allowed a lawyer to reveal confidential information that an innocent person had been wrongfully incarcerated. While the trustees agreed wrongful convictions are an abomination, the proposal could do more harm than good the trustees found since there is more likely damage to the justice system if clients cannot seek the guidance of their attorney and trust their counsel. Read the letter here.

Committee chairs: The board also approved additional terms for the chairs of several committees whose terms were extended beyond two terms.

They are:

Animal Law - Michelle A. Newton, Thomas Leach

Aviation Law - Albert J Pucciarelli

Cannabis Law - Michael F. Schaff, Seth Tipton

Equity Jurisprudence - Andrea J. Sullivan, Alexandra V. Gallo

Ethics Diversionary Program - Steven L Menaker

Higher Education - Edward G. Sponzilli

In-House Counsel - Cristal Reyes

Intellectual Property - Committee-Thomas J. Bean

International Law and Organizations Committee - David H Nachman

Lawyers in Transition - Lori Ann Buza

Malpractice Insurance - Robert W. McAndrew

Maritime and Admiralty Law - Edward R Petkevis

Media Law - CJ Griffin

Medical Malpractice - Jonathan H. Lomurro

Privacy Law - Angelo A. Stio III, Fernando M. Pinguelo

Professional Responsibility - James J. Uliano

School Law - Arsen S. Zartarian

Senior Lawyers - Neil S Dornbaum, Eli L. Eytan

Special Civil Part - Russell P. Goldman