Board of Trustees Report, June 15, 2018

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This is a summary of actions taken at the June 15, 2018 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. This summary does not constitute official minutes.

    

Appellate advocacy: The trustees agreed the association would urge the Supreme Court to reject a proposal to reduce the number of attorneys who can argue in an Appellate Division or high court case to a single person. The NJSBA said that it was an unnecessary change and the current practice of allowing two attorneys to potentially argue provides less experienced attorneys with a learning opportunity and allows attorneys to focus on key issues.

Advertising rules: The association will urge the Supreme Court to consider alternatives to achieve the goal of proposed amendments to RPC 7.2 that would  require all attorneys to back up their websites every 30 days to preserve any language related to advertising and maintain those backups for three years. Noting that such a requirement would be prohibitively expensive and may not even be possible given industry practices for maintaining backups, the trustees will urge the Court to, instead, require that individuals claiming a problem with an attorney’s advertisement electronically capture the offending webpage in a PDF or JPG file and supply that information to the appropriate Court committee.

In addition, the NJSBA submitted comments to proposed changes to RPC 1.6, regarding what information attorneys are permitted to share about a case. The association asked the Court for clarification about the change.

Complex Business Litigation Program: The NJSBA supports the goals of the Court’s Complex Business Litigation Program and submitted comments about proposed rules regarding its administration. The association raised concerns that some of the proposals would subvert the goals of the program and urged the Court to reevaluate limitations on time and discovery that could impair fair prosecution of the cases. The NJSBA also urged that cases be evaluated early for mediation readiness and to assign judges with specialization in complex commercial and construction cases to the program to ensure its goals are met.

Pro bono awards: The trustees approved the Pro Bono Committee’s recommendations for the 2018 Pro Bono Award winners. They will be honored during National Pro Bono Week, which is Oct. 21-27, at an event to be held at the New Jersey law Center. This year’s honorees are: Jason Scott Camilo, who will receive an award for his individual work; Brian N. Biglin, a new attorney who will be recognized; and the efforts of Prudential Financial.

Budget: The board approved a budget for the 2018-2019 budget year, which begins July 1. The $11.6 million general operating continues a program that provides new attorneys free membership in their first year of admittance, and half-priced dues in the second year. The budget was originally proposed in April.

Underrepresented groups: As required under the NJSBA bylaws, the trustees conducted the annual review of underrepresented groups on the board, including a review of the latest attorney demographic data. The underrepresented designated groups are African-American; Hispanic; Asian-Pacific; women; gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; over age 70; and attorneys with disabilities. The trustees designated a seat each for members who are: African-American; Hispanic; Asian-Pacific; women; and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Three additional at-large seats are open to members of any of the underrepresented groups.

Practice of Law Task Force: The board adopted recommendations of the NJSBA’s Practice of Law Task Force, which then-NJSBA President Robert B. Hille appointed to evaluate, identify and review issues in the profession. The task force spent a year researching issues and collecting research and feedback from the legal field. The task force developed three proposals for the association to pursue.

They are: Urging the courts to create a juvenile probation treatment program; to revise court rules with regard to discovery end dates and scheduling trial dates; and a proposed court rule change which would extend the time to request a trial de novo for certain civil cases that are being arbitrated.

CLE speakers: The trustees approved speakers for upcoming educational seminars. They are:

Mike Messer and Jack Marshall, who will present Ethics Rock Extreme;

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Reveals About Who We Really Are author, Seth Stephens Davidowitz;

Lenne Espenschied, a national speaker on contract drafting; and

Historic reenactors who will stage Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and Rethinking of America.

New special committees: The trustees approved the creation of two special committees. One will explore the intricacies of cannabis matters and another will examine public finance issues. Anyone interested in joining one of the committees should send a request to [email protected]. The NJSBA president makes all special committee appointments.

Support of grant application: The association agreed to send a letter to the Department of Justice in support of a grant the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is seeking to fund a conviction review unit. The unit would be charged with the prevention of wrongful convictions and the review of post-conviction appeals where there are claims of innocence.

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