Minnesota

State Bar

Association

 

Council

The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. on Friday, March 22, 2013.  The meeting was chaired by Robert Enger, President, and recorded by Joni Fenner.

 

1.01  Roll Call

Members Present:

Robert Enger, President

Phil Duran, President-Elect

Richard Kyle, Treasurer

Jerry Alcazar, Minority Bar Representative

Anne Johnson, MWL Representative

Eric Larson, Assembly Representative

Thad Lightfoot, Assembly Representative

Chris Morris, HCBA Representative

Irene Kao, Minority Bar Representative

Sam Edmunds, NLS Representative

Jessie Nicholson, Assembly Representative

Pat Trask, Outstate Representative

Mary Ward, RCBA Representative

 

Others Present:

Joni Fenner, Assistant to the Executive Director

Tim Groshens, Executive Director

Nancy Mischel, Associate Executive Director

 

1.02  Approval of minutes of the February 15 meeting

A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes as presented.  The motion carried.

 

1.03  Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Kyle summarized the financials that were distributed prior to the meeting noting that dues, revenues and expenses are on target with previous years.

 

1.04  President’s Report

Mr. Enger noted that he is looking forward to ABA Day in Washington where Legal Services Corporation funding is one of the focus areas.

 

 

2.      Assembly Committee Reports

Elections/Appointments – The Committee will meet in early April to develop recommendations for elections slated for the April meeting of the Assembly.

 

General Policy – Mr. Larson discussed a recent meeting of the Committee that included a recommendation to reinstate the rule of law policy which had lapsed as requested by the Human Rights Committee.  The Committee reviewed and recommended for approval a proposal from the Women in the Legal Profession to amend the SAGE Best Practices.  In addition, a request to amend qualifications for Criminal Law Certification was discussed and recommended for approval.

 

Governance – The Committee is working on two issues; a conflict of interest policy for members of the Assembly which is expected to be ready for action at the April meeting of the Assembly.  Looking ahead to the June Assembly meeting, the Committee is reviewing the authority of Assembly Committees to create subcommittees and whether or not members of the subcommittee must be members of the Committee.

 

Judiciary – The Human Rights and Diversity committees brought a resolution seeking support for SF 41 which would prevent marital status and sexual orientation being used to exclude people from sitting on a jury.  The Committee amended the resolution that was presented to them regarding the Rules, but do recommend support of SF 41 by the Assembly.

 

Legislative – Mr. Lightfoot noted that the Committee will meet on April 8 and consider SF 41.  In addition, they will look at the current position on judiciary elections and discuss whether it should be renewed or revised.

 

He also reported that a sales tax on legal services appears to be dead for this session and that CIJ’s bill had been heard in committee and remains alive for the session.  All of the section proposals are ready for floor votes in both houses. 

 

 

3.      Consent Calendar

3.01  Action on the recommendation of the Section Bylaw Committee to approve amendments to the bylaws of the Food, Drug, and Medical Device Section and the Real Property Law

3.02  Action on the recommendation of the Personnel Committee to adopt changes to the MSBA Employee Handbook

3.03  Action to approve the recommendation of the LAD Committee on recipients of the 2012 Becker Awards 

3.04  Action on the recommendation of the Friends of David Graven Committee on the recipient of the 2012 Graven Award

 

A motion was made and seconded to approve the Consent Calendar.  The motion carried.

 

 

4.      Action/Report Calendar

4.01  Report from the Focus Task Force

Mr. Kyle reported that the Task Force met once since the last meeting of the Council.  The members have agreed that they need data before moving forward.  They will be meeting on April 1 to develop a matrix to figure out what members want.  In addition, they are considering hosting a constitutional convention; if the doors were shut and then people were brought in and asked to start over, what would they develop?  The members may attempt a pilot program this June, perhaps with the New Lawyers Section.  Mr. Kyle asked for other members to consider joining the Task Force, Mr. Larson and Mr. Lightfoot agreed to serve. 

 

4.02  Report from the Awards Committee 

Ms. Kao summarized the work of this Committee to develop a standing Awards Committee and the proposed revisions to the Professional Excellence Award and creation of an annual Lifetime Achievement Award.  The proposal requested volunteers to serve as initial members of the standing committee.  Mr. Morris, Ms. Trask and Mr. Edmunds volunteered to fill one-year terms; and Ms. Nicholson, Ms. Kao and Ms. Johnson volunteered to fill two-year terms.  A motion was made and seconded to adopt the recommendation of the Committee and to ratify the President’s appointments to the Awards Committee.  The motion carried.

 

4.03  Update on the Director of Diversity proposal and discussion of the responsibilities of the position

Mr. Groshens reported that the current working version of the 2013-14 budget includes $87,000 in personnel expenses and $30,000 in direct expenses in diversity, an increase of $55,000 (63%) over the current year.  Those dollars are a place holder at this time until the Council can hold a meeting to specifically discuss and develop a strategic plan for expanding the diversity efforts of the Association.  It is anticipated that meeting could be scheduled in early May.  The goal of the meeting would be to have a diversity strategic plan.  What diversity programs should the Association develop?  What skills do we need in staff to develop those programs? 

 

Members asked Mr. Groshens what his position is on the Director of Diversity proposal.  He responded that additional resources should be directed to this area, current programs are not performing where they should be.  There are some concerns about the financial impact of adding staff.  Most importantly, we need to be selective in choosing what we are going to do; we need to work in the areas where we are equipped to be the best at what we do. 

 

Members discussed the proposal.  It was noted that the current budget included funding for one director level staff person – more than the current year, but less than the request of the Diversity Task Force.  The direct expenses are currently allocated for the Minnesota Minority Clerkship Program, the Minority Bar Summit, funding representatives of the minority bars participation in ABA meetings, and expenses related to committee.  Again, the current budget proposal is more than current year, but less than requested.  An additional $40,000 would be needed to fund the positions requested by the Task Force. 

 

In response to a question regarding increasing revenues, Mr. Groshens reported that the current membership year will end March 31and the Association is approaching one of the worst years we have ever had.  Typically, the MSBA has added a few hundred members each year.  Three years ago we were at zero and last year down 29.  The current projection for this year is that we will be down 200 to 250 members.  Staff is working to determine why the big decrease and will develop a report for the Council.  However, this could be an indicator that a dues increase beyond the $5.00 already in the three-year plan would be a bad idea.

 

It was proposed that the Council plan to discuss the diversity needs and goals prior to making a decision on funding.  It was agreed to begin the April Council meeting one hour earlier than planned and reserve that hour to discuss these issues.  Staff will report back with three budget proposals in this area including the Diversity Task Force request, the current proposal, and the current year.  In addition, information will be available on potential revenue increases or what programs would be impacted with a shift of funds to diversity programming.

 

4.04  Action on the request of the Animal Law Section to take a section-only position

This item was withdrawn by the Animal Law Section because the Legislature has tabled the bill.

 

4.05  Discussion regarding On Demand CLE 

Mr. Larson noted that the General Policy Committee voted to support the New Lawyers Section’s resolution to support the Board’s petition before the Supreme Court; the Judiciary Committee also voted to support the NLS resolution.  It was noted that different groups within the Association have varying positions and that raised the question of should the MSBA take a position?  Mr. Enger noted that the Executive Committee is meeting with the Executive Committee of MCLE on April 5 and would discuss the proposal and seek a compromise that supports the New Lawyers Section.  A report will be provided at the April meeting.

 

A motion was made and seconded to postpone Items 4.06 and 4.07 to the April meeting.  The motion carried.

4.06  Discussion of a mandatory CLE program for new lawyers 

4.07  Develop a response to the Solo/Small Firm section regarding Unauthorized Practice of Law 

 

4.08  Action on the request of the Family Law Section for a matching contribution for $1,000 to support mediation related to a child custody legislative proposal

A motion was made and seconded to approve the request of the Family Law Section with the understanding that they will report back to the Council on the results of the mediation. The motion carried.

 

4.09  Report on North Star Lawyer

Mr. Enger thanked everyone for their support of this program and asked that they continue to remind members about the program.

 

4.10  Discussion of the Council’s liaisons with sections and district bar associations 

Mr. Groshens asked the members to review the guidelines for liaisons. 

 

4.11  Report on proposed changes to MVAP

Mr. Duran summarized the proposed amendments to MVAP’s Bylaws, including a name change. 

 

5.      Executive Director’s Report

Mr. Groshens noted that the dashboards are on the Council website. 

 

Ms. Mischel summarized the written Aptify report noting that the process is behind schedule and over budget.  The revised Go Live date is April 29. 

 

 

6.      New Business

Ms. Trask announced that she has decided to go to seminary in Chicago this fall.  She is looking at how this may impact her ability to serve on the Council.

 

 

7.      Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.