The following is a summary of actions taken at the Oct. 16, 2015, meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
The New Jersey State Bar Association has a strong financial base and is a thriving home to the state’s largest lawyers group and the leading continuing legal education organization, a draft auditor’s report from Withum, Smith + Brown showed. The board adopted the draft audit for fiscal year 2015, which ended in June. The auditors found no issues of concern and expected to issue a clean and unmodified opinion when the report is finalized later this month.
Nominations and elections policies: The trustees approved amendments to the Association’s policy manual that will govern the way nominations of future leaders are made and any elections are conducted. The policies will take effect upon adoption of the concurrent bylaws changes that govern nominations and elections, which are now being voted on by members. The proposed bylaws amendments meant to make nominations more transparent and elections less intrusive and shorter. They require approval by two-thirds of the votes cast. The policies can be found at njsba.com.
Government affairs: The trustees approved an updated legislation position form, the document the association’s sections, committees and division use to share insights and recommendations with the board about pending bills. The revised form eliminates the requirement that each measure be given a priority designation. Instead, the streamlined version will allow all of the same input from those groups while providing greater flexibility for the association to properly delegate resources to advance key legislative measures.
The trustees also voted to support proposed legislation to modernize and amend the Professional Service Corporation Act. They reaffirmed a 2008 position to oppose S-663, which would increase court fees to pay for various issues, including court security, on the grounds that general budget funds should be used for those efforts since the courts benefit all residents. The trustees also voted to oppose as unconstitutional S-2651, which would require that breath test warnings given to suspected drunk drivers be given in English and that applicants for driver’s licenses must read and understand English.
Future of legal services: The trustees voted to submit written opposition to the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services regarding a measure that advocates for state courts to adopt Model Regulatory Objectives that would allow non-lawyers to offer legal services or own law firms. The NJSBA has been monitoring the commission’s work and has formed its own Blue Ribbon Commission on Unmet Legal Needs to develop recommendations for the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford them.
ERA: The board approved a resolution that sets out a road map for President-Elect Thomas H. Prol’s agenda as president next year to advance the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment was first introduced in 1923 and has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since that time. The resolution declares the association’s full and unequivocal support for “equality of rights based on sex, and calls for immediate ratification” of the amendment. The resolution will be submitted to the American Bar Association so its delegates can consider action in February. Meanwhile, the state bar association will form an ad hoc committee to study the issue and propose a strategy for ratification.
Vanderbilt Award: The trustees selected former NJSBA President Ralph J. Lamparello as this year’s recipient of the Arthur J. Vanderbilt Award in recognition of his work to advance the public’s understanding and political dialogue surrounding the importance of a fair and independent judicial system.