Board of Trustees Report March 8, 2019

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Note: This summary does not constitute official minutes.  

Attorney malpractice insurance: The board discussed recent communication from the Judiciary regarding recommendations of the Court’s Ad Hoc Committee on Attorney Malpractice Insurance. The letter indicated that while there will not be a requirement that attorneys have mandatory malpractice insurance; it will soon be required – as per a new Rule of Court – that attorneys must report whether they have malpractice insurance and, if so, file a certificate of insurance setting forth basic policy information that will be accessible to the public. The Judiciary is still considering an additional item that would require attorneys to disclose to clients if they do not have professional malpractice coverage. The NJSBA strenuously opposed these changes when the report of the Ad Hoc Committee was released. That information can be found here. The NJSBA will continue dialogue with the Judiciary on this issue and review how it may affect proposed legislation, A4880, which seeks to level the playing field for professionals.  

Budget: The trustees gave preliminary approval to the 2019-2020 budget for the association. The roughly $12 million includes several proposals to help members. It contains a plan to allow young lawyers to join substantive sections for free with the goal of providing them additional reasons to stay invested in the organization throughout their careers. It also continues the Mentor Match program to connect experienced attorneys and retired judges with attorneys who are starting out or facing a career transition. The budget anticipates creating a law practice management component so that members can get valuable information and guidance about running their practice. And the NJSBA also plans to conduct a survey of young lawyers to learn more about how they want to communicate, what serves they need and what benefits they want from their membership.

Diversity Summit 2019: As recommended by the Diversity Committee, the board approved Robert Lattimer as a speaker at the June 26 Diversity Summit. Lattimer is a Non-Resident Scholar and Senior Fellow for Diversity Studies at Rutgers University. This year’s summit will examine “Diversity at a Crossroads: The Global Rise of Nativism, Nationalism and Extremism.”

Future Annual Meeting and Conventions: The trustees approved hosting the 2020 and 2021 Annual Meeting and Conventions at the Borgata, Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. That has been the site of the Annual Meeting for several years, and is where it will be from May 15-17. Learn more about this year’s event here. 

Attorney certification: At the request of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, the trustees agreed that the NJSBA will request that the Judiciary consider creating a certification program for real estate law, which would be similar to the other areas of certification that are already offered.

Cannabis law practice: With the legal landscape surrounding marijuana changing in New Jersey, the board voted to ask the Judiciary to review the Rules of Professional Conduct that may be implicated for attorneys who handle cannabis law matters. Further, since the rules cycle can be lengthy, the NJSBA will seek an interim opinion from the Judiciary’s relevant committees for guidance.

Worker’s Compensation Judges: The Association will urge that workers' compensation judges who have qualified for tenure be renominated and that their names be submitted for Senate consideration, as it has previously noting that not doing so harms the efficient operation of the courts, erodes the morale of the judges currently serving in the Division of Workers' Compensation, and diminshes the ability to attract qualified new judges to the division.

Government affairs: The trustees voted on several measures. They agreed to support:

  • S2441 Diegnan, which clarifies, under “The New Jersey Alternative Procedure for  Dispute Resolution Act,” timeframe for party to seek judicial review of alternative dispute resolution award after making request to modify award with umpire of alternative proceeding.
  • A4547 Lopez / S3120 Greenstein, which requires collection and reporting of information concerning crimes against the elderly and disabled.
  • A4556 Mukherji, which allows parents or legal custodians separated from their children because of immigration matters to appoint standby guardians. 
  • S2982 Ruiz, a measure that clarifies that child may not be excluded from public school based on membership in protected category under “Law Against Discrimination” or immigration status.
  • A1700 Dancer / S1583 Cruz-Perez, which would specify vacant shopping malls and office parks as eligible for designation as areas in need of redevelopment.
  • A1117 Downey, a bill that aims to increase certain minimum liability coverage required for motor vehicle insurance and abolishes basic automobile insurance policy.
  • A3311 Bramnick / S2430 Scutari, which requires motor vehicle insurance policies to include certain underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage.
  • A4610 Dancer, which permits municipalities to require registration of vacant and abandoned properties and use registration fee proceeds to maintain these properties. 
  • A3150 Lampitt/S2133 Cruz-Perez, a measure that mandates health benefits coverage for fertility preservation services under certain health insurance plans. 
  • S477 Vitale, which would remove the statute of limitations in civil actions that involve minor victims of sexual abuse.