The following is a summary of actions taken at the June 17, 2016, 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.
Presidential statements: At the meeting, NJSBA President Thomas H. Prol issued a statement supporting the role the courts play in society, saying judicial independence is fundamental to the mission of the association, and the impartial role the courts serve in protecting the rights of each citizen is a pillar of our democracy. Read the statement here.
In addition, he praised the anti-bullying work the New Jersey State Bar Foundation has championed and paused for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Read the statement here.
Criminal justice reform: The NJSBA sent the Supreme Court comments related to the upcoming criminal justice reform. The comments cover everything from bail reform and speedy trial rules to pretrial release and detention court rules. Read the letter here.
2016-2017 budget approved: The leadership gave final approval to a budget that projects roughly $12 million in revenue and spending for the coming fiscal year. The plan reflects no increase in dues or fees, and continues to invest in infrastructure upgrades and producing events, seminars and conventions that keep members up-to-date and benefit their practice and professional endeavors.
Diversity bar associations recognized: The Board of Trustees designated 11 diversity bar associations as those that can participate in General Council and be included in the process of nominating future leaders. The trustees added the bar associations to its policy manual to ensure the goals of increasing diversity and inclusion in the profession can be achieved. The included groups are:
Asian Pacific Lawyers of New Jersey
Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey
Association of Portuguese Speaking Attorneys of New Jersey
Caribbean Bar Association of New Jersey
Garden State Bar Association
Haitian American Lawyers of New Jersey
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Korean Bar Association of New Jersey
New Jersey Women Lawyers Association
New Jersey Muslim Lawyers of New Jersey
South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey
At-large seats designated: As required under the NJSBA bylaws, the trustees conducted the annual review of underrepresented groups on the board. The 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.
RPC on medical marijuana advice: The trustees supported a proposed change to the Rules of Professional Conduct that would allow New Jersey lawyers to counsel clients on the state’s new medical marijuana laws. The proposed rule change also suggests attorneys should advise clients regarding federal law and policies. The NJSBA will suggest a clarification, offered by its ad hoc committee that reviewed the issue that would say lawyers should be permitted to counsel clients on laws of other states in which the lawyer meets the necessary requirements to do so. Read the letter here.
Sections and committees: The trustees took action on several items related to the association’s sections and committees.
• They approved changes to the bylaws of the Immigration Law Section. The changes include updating membership requirements and adding three officers to the section – chair-elect, treasurer and immediate past chair – which is consistent with other sections.
• The trustees extended the appointments of several people to continue serving as chair of its special and standing committees.
• The board also approved a proposal from the Pro Bono Committee to create a social media campaign to encourage members to take on volunteer matters during Pro Bono Month in October.
• Prol also reminded trustees of their obligations, and that of other members in leadership positions of sections, committees and divisions, to review the association’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and to complete the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan Checklist, which can be found here.
Community Health Law Project honored: The Board of Trustees adopted a resolution honoring the good work performed by the Community Health Law Project under the direction of David Lazarus, its recently retired director of litigation. The resolution was presented at a celebration honoring Lazarus in Maplewood. Read the resolution here.