Search News & Press Releases

NJSBA stays vigilant advocating for attorneys

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2023
Contact: Thomas Nobile
Director of Communications
Tel: 732-937-7527
[email protected]
   
NEW BRUNSWICK – The New Jersey State Bar Association had a busy quarter on the advocacy front. Through the combined efforts of countless NJSBA members and its leadership, the Association helped move the needle on several significant issues to the practice of law in New Jersey, its attorneys and most vulnerable residents. From improving access to justice for the underserved to safeguarding the health and well-being of those in New Jersey courts, the results achieved through NJSBA’s advocacy will have a lasting positive impact. 
     
“Advocacy is one of the most important functions of the NJSBA. When New Jersey attorneys speak as one voice to effectuate change, legal services are enhanced, clients get a fairer shake and the system of justice runs more smoothly,” NJSBA President Jeralyn L. Lawrence said. 
   
Here are the highlights from the Association’s advocacy work in recent months. 
     
Reforming the Madden system of assigned counsel 
The NJSBA took its strongest steps yet to reshape the broken system of mandatory pro bono assignments in right to counsel cases where there is a consequence of magnitude. In January, the NJSBA’s Board of Trustees adopted a resolution that called upon the New Jersey Supreme Court to abolish the Madden system of mandatory pro bono assignments in favor of a publicly funded compensated counsel system to represent indigent litigants who have a constitutional right to counsel.
     
The current system, established 30 years ago under Madden v. Twp. of Delran, is an imperfect one that assigns counsel at random to a case, regardless of the attorney’s expertise or practice area. This has created a two-tiered justice system that puts indigent litigants at a disadvantage and denies them equal access to justice, the NJSBA argued. 
     
In addition to the resolution, the NJSBA petitioned to join a Madden-related case—State v. Jason Burgos—as an amicus party. The suit involves an attorney who was assigned to a contempt of domestic violence matter, but has only practiced law sporadically since 2000 and has never handled such a case.
     
Shelter for foreign nationals 
At the NJSBA’s urging, the U.S. General Services Administration agreed to provide outdoor shelter at the Peter Rodino Federal Building in Newark to non-detained foreign nationals. For months, attorneys with their clients—who include infant children, people with disabilities and older adults—have braved the elements while waiting more than an hour in long lines that wrap around the building.
     
Lawrence wrote to the federal agency in December after members of the NJSBA’s Immigration Law Section raised the issue. The excessively long wait time in cold temperatures “prevents equal access to justice and is a risk to people’s health and safety,” Lawrence stated. She also urged the GSA to build temporary outdoor structures to shelter those in line, open a second entrance and consider other reasonable solutions to improve the wait times. The GSA responded that it is taking measures to build an outdoor shelter and will explore opening a second screening entrance.
     
Defibrillators in courthouses 
NJSBA Trustee Amy Vasquez led a push for counties across the state to outfit courthouses with more defibrillators, as a potential lifesaving measure for those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. In a letter sent to administrators in all 21 counties, the NJSBA stressed the importance of placing defibrillators “on every floor of all facilities with clear signage and opportunities for courthouse staff to be trained to use the machines.” Doing so will help ensure the safety of the many attorneys, judges, court staff and members of the public who visit the courthouses daily, the letter stated. 
        
Vasquez, a child welfare attorney, has championed the issue for years after her husband went into cardiac arrest at the Gloucester County Courthouse in 2011. He died days later, leaving behind a 3-year-old daughter. A defibrillator was on a different floor of the building and arrived too late. In response to the letter, officials in Hudson and Essex counties said they would review the need to add more defibrillators in areas accessible to sheriff’s officers. 
     
Virtual hearings 
With the courts shifting back to pre-pandemic norms and in-person hearings, the NJSBA pressed the state to maintain a virtual component for attorneys and clients. The efficiencies of virtual hearings have been a meaningful addition to the legal system’s ability to provide access to justice, Lawrence said in a letter to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Remote hearings allow attorneys to serve clients more affordably and with less stress, the letter stated. 
     
The AOC updated its operations in October to continue holding routine conferences and motions remotely, but the implementation between vicinages has been uneven, NJSBA members have noted. One attorney reported that client no-shows in pre-trial indictment hearings have increased since returning in-person, resulting in more bench warrants. Family law clients have faced large attorney bills for routine appearances that could have been held virtually. And, in civil court, in-person special civil and landlord-tenant have become a hardship for litigants who juggle child care and work. 
     
Guardian background screening policy
The NJSBA provided comments on proposed amendments to Rule 4:86-2(b)(3) and related updates to the Background Screening Policy for Proposed Guardians. The policy covers the appointment of a guardian for an incapacitated person. To ensure the standards are applied equally in each county, the NJSBA recommended that the changes include a clarification on how counties find a guardian beyond a name search; implement standard fingerprinting protocols; make clear to all involved in the process that only individuals in the background screening need to complete the certification paperwork; and release the results to parties through a secure portal or email system. 
     
Password requirements for Judiciary systems 
The NJSBA asked the state to reconsider expanding the password requirements for attorneys to access the Judiciary’s systems. The Judiciary strengthened its passcode approach to ward off cyber-attacks. But the new requirements—particularly one to change the 14-character password every 90 days—is vexing for users, who use the services often to file documents and access information about their cases, the NJSBA said in a letter.
 

Contact: NJSBA Communications Department
Tel: 732-937-7527
Email: [email protected]

About


Founded in 1899, the NJSBA is the largest organization of attorneys, judges and legal professionals in New Jersey. At the core of our mission is improving the lives of our members, advancing the rule of law and serving as the voice of the profession. With 85 sections and committees, the NJSBA allows attorneys to benefit from being part of the most wide-reaching legal association in the state, while still cultivating expertise and building networks within specialized practice areas.

MORE ABOUT NJSBA

Diversity


The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to promoting and fostering a diverse and inclusive bar association. The Association recognizes that the broad concept of diversity includes race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age and disability. The NJSBA fosters and promotes an inclusive environment that gives value to the unique contributions of diverse individuals and organizations in all aspects of the Association.

Learn More

Advocacy


The NJSBA Legal and  Government Affairs Department serves as the liaison between NJSBA members and the state’s three branches of government.

Directions

The New Jersey Law Center is located at 1 Constitution Sq, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901. Need directions to the Law Center? Click on the button below to get started right away.

Contact NJSBA

NJSBA Contact Us Form
If you're looking for an attorney, click here for help.

If you cannot afford an attorney and have a civil matter, click here for Legal Services of New Jersey.

Looking for information about a specific lawyer? Contact the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection at 855-533-3863.

Have a complaint about a lawyer? Visit the Office of Attorney Ethics website. Select “Attorney Discipline” from the navigation bar for discipline of attorneys.

Contact Info

One Constitution Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

732-249-5000
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday

Fax 732-249-2815

Email us

NJSBA Meetings and Events Calendar


From section, committee and division meetings with valuable CLE credit, to receptions and dinners and special events, the New Jersey State Bar Association regularly holds meetings so our members can meet their mandatory CLE requirements and network with the state’s largest attorney membership.

View Calendar

2024 Annual Meeting & Convention


The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Annual Meeting & Convention will be held at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa May 15-17

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

2024 Mid-Year Meeting


The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Mid-Year Meeting will be held at The Shelbourne Hotel, Nov. 2-9

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

Practice HQ Training Events


Lawyers aren't taught practice management skills, and the NJSBA is here to fill the gap — no matter whether you are just starting out, mid-career or thinking about wrapping up their practices. Our PracitceHQ is here to help with webinars, informative articles, free consultations, comparison charts and so much more.

Practice HQ Training Events

Decisis


The new NJSBA member benefit Decisis will help you level-up your legal research.

Decisis gives members access to a robust database of local and federal case law is necessary information often used to structure your case. Decisis provides industry-leading tools to make legal research easier and more intuitive, and it’s a free benefit to all active New Jersey State Bar Association members.

Decisis Training Events

Networking Events


The NJSBA provides a host of networking events so members can maintain relationships with existing colleagues and make new connects. Join us at a baseball game, the hockey arena, for a community service project, or another event.

Upcoming Networking Events

Benefits Of Membership


As a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), you will join a powerful network of 16,000 legal professionals across the state of New Jersey. NJSBA membership grants you access to year-round virtual and in-person networking events, leadership and professional development opportunities, member-only discounts, educational resources to help you stay in the know and much more!

Practice Management Tools


The NJSBA provides tools lawyers need to improve their practice, from our comprehensive PracticeHQ library of resources; a career center to find your next colleague or opportunity; an intuitive and high-powered legal research platform; and a robust Member Assistance Program to connect members, and those who live in their households, with experienced counselors and resources to address mental health needs.

 

Advocacy


As an NJSBA member, you'll become part of the collective power of the NJSBA network, giving you the ability to influence legislation and caselaw in New Jersey. Let’s work together to shape the future and solve critical issues facing attorneys and the public.

Become a Member Today!

Networking


Membership helps you build and maintain a powerful network through our in-person and online events with attorneys all over the state.

 

Become a Member Today!

Become A Partner Organization


The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) offers an exclusive partnership opportunity to amplify your organization’s impact and drive success. By harnessing the power of the NJSBA legal community, you can connect with our vibrant network of 16,000 legal professionals from 35+ different areas of practice, unlocking unparalleled opportunities for growth and achievement.

 

News and Press Publications


Learn more about the accomplishments of the Association, its members and events from regular news updates, press releases, and our award-winning magazine.


 

Reports


Read the comments, reports, resolutions and Board of Trustee news from the state’s largest organization of lawyers, judges and legal professionals.


 

Statements and Positions


The NJSBA is the voice of the profession and takes public positions on a range of issues with the legal community and government officials. It also takes positions on legislation and files friend-of-the-court briefs on matters that impact the profession. 

Photo Galleries


Check out photos from recent NJSBA events.

View Photo Albums

You do not have permission to view this form.