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Minnesota State Bar Association
Assembly Minutes 2008-08 Bar Year
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June 26, 2009
April 30, 2009
December 12, 2008
September 19, 2008
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, June 26, 2009, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. President Michael Ford presided, with Secretary Aaron Biber recording. The Roll Call is attached.
Mr. Ford read the names of members who passed away during the past year.
II. Minnesota State Bar Foundation Annual Meeting
Foundation president JP Barone provided a report on the activities and grants given by the Foundation during the year and he encouraged members to voluntarily contribute to the Foundation. In closing, Mr. Barone thanked outgoing Board members for their service. Aaron Biber, chair of the Elections/Appointments Committee reported on the Committee’s deliberations during which nine candidates were interviewed for the six positions on the Foundation Board. Based on these interviews, the Committee is recommending the following candidates: Brenda Denton, Jacqueline Dorsey, Nancy Kleeman (to complete Pat Waggoner’s term), Bethany Fountain Lindberg, Warren Ortland, and Gary Voegele. The Assembly voted to elect these candidates.
III. Awards & Special Recognitions
Mr. Ford announced the recipients of the President’s Award and Professional Excellence Award which were presented previously. He also recognized the outgoing Assembly members.
IV. President’s Report
Mr. Ford provided a short summary of his efforts over the year including trying to rely on the expertise of members and give them credit whenever possible, as well as trying to spread information out as widely as possible, contrary to attorneys’ natural inclination to keep information close to the vest. He recognized the work of the Civic Education Committee, coordinating 400 presentations being made across state to over 800 students and development of a peer mediation program.
V. Treasurer’s Report
Mr. Votel summarized the current financial status of the Association, highlighting staff efforts to reduce spending to limit the current year deficit. A net increase of more than 400 members over 2008-09 is very compelling; this is the highest increase in over 10 years. The Assembly has a reserve goal of 25-30% of operating expenses; this goal level will be accomplished.
VI. Consent Calendar
A motion was made and seconded to approve the items on the Consent Calendar. The motion carried.
VII. Additional agenda Items
A motion was made to add action to approve amendments to the LawPAC Constitution to the Agenda. The motion was seconded and carried.
VIII. Elections/Appointments Committee
Mr. Biber summarized the work of the Committee during the year and highlighted positions that will be on the September Assembly agenda.
IX. General Policy Committee
Mary Ward reviewed the report of the Rights of Unmarried Couples Task Force and noted that the Committee recommended approval of the executive summary. The motion carried, with Justices Dietzen and Gildea recusing themselves.
X. Governance Committee
Fred Finch reported on the meetings and work of the Governance Committee during the year. The Committee recommended approval of the NLS Bylaw Amendments which were part of the Consent Calendar; and he advised that the Section will take on an overall review of their Bylaws in the coming year. In addition, The Committee continues to work on review and development of policies and procedures for handling amicus briefs. Mr. Finch noted that he is on the Assembly representing MSBA delegates to the ABA; those delegates are looking for input from MSBA members.
XI. Legislative Committee
Susan Holden discussed the work of the Committee over the year; highlighting the Committee’s work to develop legislative positions of the Association. At the Committee’s most recent meeting members discussed ways to improve processes to be more efficient and work for the Association and the member groups of the Association. Those efforts will include improvements to the website; Bill Summary Form, and enhancements of the Legislative Position Form. A Subcommittee is nearing completion of work on the revised Uniform Arbitration Act; and the Committee anticipates requesting a change in the Association’s legislative position.
The Legislative Committee is recommending approval of proposed amendments to the LawPAC Constitution. Mr. Brisbois summarized the changes, including a change in number of trustees, shortening term lengths, attempting to make it more nimble and responsive; and expanding the PAC’s scope – which had been limited to legislative elections. The revisions include judicial positions and any constitutional elections. The motion carried.
Report of Legislative Representative Lloyd Grooms
The Association’s legislation agenda was very focused this year; largely centering around adequate funding for the judicial system. Major, significant cuts to the judicial budget were anticipated. Work at the capital and creation of 1000 supporters spread the word of how those cuts would affect average Minnesotans. Cuts were not a dramatic has feared, but there were several trade-offs, including increased fees. While opposing those cuts, the Association also worked to avoid a sales tax on legal services. It is anticipated that these could become annual issues. Judicial Selection was also a legislative issue. Proposed legislation moved forward in the Senate, but did not move forward in House. At this time it looks like it will move forward in the House next year. Section bills were limited this year, but some technical amendments passed and the legislative agenda for the year was achieved.
Mr. Grooms expressed his appreciation to the leadership and the members for their support at the Capitol.
XII. Military Law Committee Report
Mr. Ford discussed the work of the Committee, noting that it was recently recognized at a Yellow Ribbon Ceremony.
Lt. Col. John Brossar appeared on video highlighting the work of MSBA members currently serving in the JAG Corps in Iraq. He discussed the areas and types of work they are currently doing; primarily, at this time, working on the transition to full Iraqi control.
XIII. Operations Committee
Mr. Votel thanked the members of the Committee for their work throughout the year, particularly the Subcommittee chairs.
Mr. Votel provided a summary of a new Investment Policy. The proposal is an expanded policy to provide guidelines under the new relationship with the Association’s investment advisor which is now serving in a fiduciary role. It was noted that the Policy has been reviewed by the Investment Subcommittee and Operations Committee and has been recommended for approval. A motion was made and carried to adopt the Policy as presented.
Mr. Votel summarized the request of the Civic Education Committee to rollover funding as it works to raise money to further support its efforts. The Operations Committee is recommending approval of this request. The motion carried.
XIV. Other Business
Mr. Ford reviewed events that lead to petitions which are currently before the Supreme Court from the Board of Public Defense and the Legal Services Planning Committee. The Council is recommending the Assembly adopt the following resolution in support of the petitions:
A) believes that it is appropriate, given the unique current economic circumstances, for the Minnesota Supreme Court to increase the attorney registration fee by up to $75 to fund, in part, the Board of Public Defense, and that this increase should sunset after a period of two years; and
B) supports an increase in the attorney registration fee of $25 to fund, in part, civil legal services.
A motion was made and seconded to adopt the resolution. Members discussed various issues regarding the petitions and the resolution including a concern that the $75 increase for public defense funding would not sunset after two years as proposed in the MSBA resolution; noting that this is a societal obligation and it should not be paid by lawyers; what happens to the system if public defenders are not funded; the resolution sends a message that it is a necessary stopgap measure and puts the court in a position to enter a discussion with the legislature in advance of the next budget session; and the Association needs to work more to include the prosecutors in discussions regarding maintaining the court system. Following discussion the motion carried with Justices Dietzen and Gildea recusing themselves.
Mr. Ford asked members to review the written announcements.
Mr. Biber noted that Judge Neville is seeking the position of ABA Secretary and that the MSBA wishes her the best.
Mr. Brisbois thanked Mike Ford for his efforts and service as an officer of the Association.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.
Aaron F. Biber
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2009, at the Minnesota CLE Center in Minneapolis. President Michael Ford presided, with Secretary Aaron Biber recording. The Roll Call is attached.
I. Award Presentations
The session opened with presentation of two of Bar's most prestigious awards honoring pro bono service:
David Graven Public Service Award was presented to James L. Baillie of Fredrikson & Byron, Minneapolis.
Bernard P. Becker Awards were presented to the following individuals:
- Attorney Award: Karla Kruger, St. Cloud Area Legal Services
- Staff Award: Sue Harvey, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota
- Law Student Award: Sara McBroom, William Mitchell College of Law
II. President’s Report
President Ford noted that the MSBA may examine its meeting standards in the wake of the current news regarding swine flu, with the possibility of conducting meetings via teleconference or other electronic means. He then recognized two MSBA staff members to address the Assembly.
Executive Director Tim Groshens provided a report on the current and potential impact of the economy on membership recruitment, retention, and billing. Despite the downturn in the economy, he noted that the Bar was having one of its best recruitment years in recent history, and expressed optimism that the MSBA would continue to build on that trend. He indicated that Bar leaders would be provided with regular updates throughout the June 1-October 31, 2009 billing period, and would work with the Operations Committee if necessary to revise expenses. Throughout this period, the MSBA will examine steps by comparable state bars and membership organizations, and would continue its multi-pronged campaign to attract and retain members.
Marketing Director Margaret Dean then discussed aspects of this campaign. She displayed materials related to the current "We Are the Bar" marketing drive stressing themes of diverse and essential services available throughout the state. The campaign utilizes statements from current MSBA members. She encouraged all Assembly members to emphasize the value of MSBA membership in their contacts with both members and nonmembers.
President Ford then presented several items of interest to Assembly members. He characterized the MSBA as an organization that coordinated the collective talents and actions of attorneys across the state, citing several examples:
- When news reports broke regarding potential flooding on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, the MSBA developed contingency plans in tandem with the North Dakota bar, the district bar president Kim Pennington, legal services agencies, and FEMA.
- Minnesota's current budget deficit, coupled with bleak economic projections, have led lawmakers to consider drastic cuts in state court funding, as well as proposals to boost revenues through a sales tax on legal services. The MSBA has mounted concerted drives on both of these fronts. At the time of the Assembly meeting, President Ford reported some progress in the area of court funding, and expressed hopes that the sales tax proposal would not be passed in the current session. Both of these initiatives benefited from coordinated efforts of MSBA members, Bar leaders, and volunteers working together with the judiciary and legislators.
- A similar concerted effort forms the foundation of the MSBA's continuing initiatives in the area of judicial selection and elections. President Ford reported that a judicial elections bill was unlikely to move forward in the 2009 session, but he praised progress made at the Capitol this term.
- On the national front, President Ford reported that the MSBA would join forces with minority bar associations and legal services organizations to urge reauthorization of the federal Legal Services Corporation. In a related effort, all of these organizations were expected to urge Congress to ease restrictions on categories of work that can be performed by offices receiving LSC funding.
III. Treasurer’s Report
President Ford recognized Treasurer Terry Votel, praising him for his efforts to oversee MSBA finances during this difficult economic year. Treasurer Votel directed attention to written materials presented in advance of the session. He noted that dues collections, expressed as a percentage of revenue, were on track with the previous fiscal year. Revenues and expenditures as of March 31, 2009, were also on track with the same period last year, despite the economy. He credited ongoing recruitment and retention efforts, as well as expenditure reductions, as positive factors in the current budgetary snapshot. He expressed confidence that the deficits anticipated for both the current and the upcoming fiscal years would be reduced.
IV. Consent Calendar
A. Approval of minutes of the December 12, 2008 meeting
B. Action on the Recommendation of the Governance Committee to approve the amendment to the Bylaws of the Tax Law Section
President Ford entertained a motion for these two items to be considered separately. Hearing no such motion, he called for a motion to approve. A motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the Consent Calendar.
V. Additional Agenda Items
It was moved and seconded to authorize consideration of a new item appearing in the agenda under the Operations Committee report. In the revised agenda, as distributed at the meeting, this was listed as item XI.B. The motion carried, and the item was considered later in the session.
VI. Elections/Appointments Committee
Committee Chair Aaron Biber reported that the committee had reviewed Qualifications and Interest Statements from all candidates listed below. On behalf of the committee, he moved that the Assembly nominate the entire slate. President Ford called for additional nominations; hearing none, he called the question. The motion carried.
Nominated under the motion were:
- Richard Nethercut, Fillmore County: Client Security Board
- Christopher Cain, Blue Earth County, and Judge Kathleen Sanberg, Hennepin County: State Board of Continuing Legal Education
- Edward Cassidy, Ramsey County: Legal Services Advisory Committee
- William O’Brien, Hennepin County: State Board of Legal Certification
- Leonardo Castro, Ramsey County, and Donald Campbell, Hennepin County: Bar Admissions Advisory Council
- Jon Saunders, Kandiyohi County: Central Minnesota Legal Services Board
- Michael Miller, Hennepin County, Judge Jon Stafsholt, Pope County, and David Stowman, Becker County: MSBA Delegates to the ABA
VII. General Policy Committee – Mary Ward, Chair
Committee Chair Mary Ward presented a brief report on committee activities, then directed attention to item VII.B. as it appeared in the meeting materials:
Action on the Recommendation of the Committee regarding the request of the Labor and Employment Law Section to apply for authorization to begin certifying attorneys in the area of employment law
On behalf of the committee, Ms. Ward moved that the Assembly approve the recommendation and report as it appeared in the meeting materials. In discussion before the Assembly, it was clarified that the program would be funded by the section, and that certification requirements, including those affecting disclosure, would be standardized for all certification programs operated by the MSBA. The motion carried.
VIII. Governance Committee
Committee Chair Fred Finch opened his report by asking Assembly members to observe a moment of silence for Richard Nelson who passed away recently. Noting that the Assembly had approved amendments to the bylaws of the Tax Law Section earlier in the session, Mr. Finch praised the tireless efforts of Mr. Nelson, who was instrumental in performing many of the detailed reviews of Bar-related bylaws and other documents.
Mr. Finch then directed attention to the following recommendation and its attendant report as they appeared in the meeting materials:
Action on the Recommendation that the MSBA repeal its current conflicts policy (Policy #1) and adopt the proposed conflicts policy; and that the MSBA adopt a Disability and Succession Policy.
He provided a brief history of the two policies and their provisions. Recognizing the need for a comprehensive policy regarding conflicts of interest, 2007-08 MSBA President Brian Melendez drafted and the Assembly adopted a document, which was later revised and adopted by the Governance Committee. That document has since been revised as part of a review that also included development of a Disability and Succession Policy. Taken together, the two policies spell out parameters regarding conflicts, and provide mechanisms of succession in the event that an officer is disqualified or otherwise unable to serve.
In separate motions, Mr. Finch moved that the Assembly approve both policies. Both motions carried.
President Ford reported on behalf of the Convention Committee. He noted that the upcoming annual convention in Duluth was to be the last conducted in the familiar format. Beginning in 2010, convention activities are to be replaced by one-day events hosted at each of the state's eight outstate judicial districts, with a ninth event in the Twin Cities. These Bench Bar Forums will be patterned after events launched by 2005-06 MSBA President Susan Holden, and will include sessions on issues of local and regional interest, as well as CLEs and speakers.
X. Legislative Committee
Committee Chair Susan Holden presented a brief report summarizing the reviews of recommendations submitted by Bar constituencies in December 2008, the subsequent adoption of the MSBA legislative agenda, and ongoing work during the current session. She then directed attention to four recommendations and reports as they appeared in the meeting materials (items X.B-D). Each of the following items was treated under a separate motion.
B. Action on the Recommendation that MSBA adopt the Committee's report and proposed policy concerning legislation directed at or directly affecting a matter pending on appeal to Minnesota Appellate Courts
Ms. Holden noted that the recommendation had been revised from the version initially distributed to Assembly members in advance of the meeting. The revised version, presented to the Assembly with a motion to approve by the Legislative Committee, stated:
Resolved: That the MSBA adopt as policy a long-standing practice that: The MSBA will not advance legislation that directly changes the law result of an individual case, or makes moot an issue in a case, that is pending on appeal to Minnesota's appellate courts, unless the proponent demonstrates that exceptional circumstances exist justifying immediate action before appeals to Minnesota's courts are exhausted.
Ms. Holden noted that this standard has been followed informally, but urged that it be formalized now to ensure that the Bar does not act in ways that might be deemed disrespectful to courts or parties, or result in piecemeal legislative changes later. She anticipated that this policy would not be so general as to affect all such cases.
A motion was then made to amend the committee's main motion and to adopt the red-lined version as it appears above. The motion to amend carried. President Ford then called the question to adopt the main motion as amended. The main motion carried.
C. Action on the Recommendation that MSBA adopt a position that opposes a proposed federal law, S. 569, the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act
Business Law Section Vice Chair Robert Beattie presented this recommendation and report as it appeared in the meeting materials. The bill in question, reintroduced in the U.S. Senate, was intended to thwart the use of shell entities in money laundering, terrorist financing, and tax evasion. Mr. Beattie lauded these intentions, but identified Section concerns over specific provisions of the bill as drafted, including reporting and record requirements. On behalf of the section, he moved that the Assembly adopt the recommendation to oppose the bill. Because this is a proposed federal law, the MSBA would not engage in lobbying activities. The motion carried.
D. Action on the Recommendation that the MSBA renew the existing legislative position #3 so that the position does not expire under the six-year rule in our Bylaws
Resolved that in an era when safeguarding Minnesotans’ civil rights has become more important than ever, the Legislature should not move to withdraw, or more narrowly define, any currently-protected class from the scope of the Minnesota Human Rights Act
Ms. Holden noted that under MSBA Bylaws, legislative positions adopted by the Bar expire after six years unless reauthorized by the MSBA. She recognized Diversity Committee member Phil Duran, who urged that the Assembly renew legislative position #3 as it appears above. Mr. Duran said that renewing this position would help to ensure continuing protection of all protected classes under the state Human Rights Act. The motion carried.
E. Action on the Recommendation that the Animal Law Section proposal regarding Minnesota Statutes Section 35.71 be referred back to the Section for further study
Ms. Holden presented the motion to refer this matter back to the section pending further study. She indicated that the Animal Law Section would consult with its members and other Bar constituencies and report back in fall 2009. The motion carried.
Ms. Holden next recognized MSBA Legislative Representative Lloyd Grooms, who reported on current lobbying and legislative initiatives by the Bar. Mr. Grooms reported on major activities related to court funding and judicial elections. Legislation proposed to implement the "Quie Commission" recommendations regarding judicial selection/election had moved through the Senate, but no hearings were anticipated in the House. Mr. Grooms expected that no final action would come before the 2010 session.
Mr. Grooms praised the tireless efforts of all parties to address sweeping cuts initially proposed in the area of court funding. At the time of the Assembly meeting, bills in conference committees would restore portions of cuts originally proposed in the areas of public defenders, legal aid, and general court funding. He reported that new fees might be implemented to "backfill" and to generate new revenues for these areas. While court funding is still proposed at levels far below those advocated by the MSBA and by the judiciary, Mr. Grooms expressed hope that these cuts may not be quite as severe as initially proposed.
He also reported that an MSBA-endorsed real property bill was now before the governor. Before both the House and Senate were bills regarding probate, uniform laws, and arbitration. Proposed sales taxes on legal services did not appear in House or Senate funding bills, but could still be reintroduced in the current session, Mr. Grooms said.
Ms. Holden closed by noting that the current session had been marked by unprecedented budgetary concerns. She thanked all members of the MSBA and the judicial system for their contributions, singling out the work of President Ford and Secretary Biber on initiatives related to judicial funding.
XI. Operations Committee
Committee Chair and MSBA Treasurer Terry Votel presented a brief report on activities of the committee and its five subcommittees. He then moved approval of the appointment of Murray Sagsveen to the Operations Committee. (This new agenda item, approved earlier in the session, appeared as item XI.B in a revised agenda distributed at the session.) This motion carried.
Mr. Votel then presented separate recommendations on behalf of the Operations Committee:
C. Action the Recommendation to approve changes in section dues
He directed attention to a chart listing current and proposed section dues for 2009-2010. The motion carried.
D. Action on the Recommendation to approve the proposed Three-Year Plan for 2010-12 and the Budget for 2009-10
Mr. Votel directed attention to written materials appearing in the meeting materials. He noted that the current three-year planning cycle -- ending June 30, 2009 -- was marked by a planned spend-down of MSBA reserves, which in July 2006 had reached 51% of annual operating expenses, well above the 25-30% level considered optimal. He also noted efforts by Bar leaders and staff to reduce expenditures in the wake of current economic difficulties. These cuts, coupled with the strong recruitment and retention figures mentioned in the report and by speakers at the Assembly session, represented cause for optimism in the coming year.
Under the proposed three-year plan and 2009-10 budget, program categories have been reorganized and presented in a manner intended to be easier to evaluate. Program-related expenses and activities related to diversity are now presented under one umbrella, for example, as are those related to online member services.
Other items from the written materials highlighted by Mr. Votel:
- The 2009-10 budget projects a 93% retention rate.
- Section fees will be reinstituted.
- The Operations Committee reexamined relationships with affiliated organizations, in some instances passing on direct costs previously borne by the MSBA.
- The annual Bench & Bar print directory will be suspended to save costs.
- Capital expenditures are reduced for the first year of the planned three-year cycle.
- The Bar will defer leasing additional conference space.
Mr. Votel also noted that the MSBA's current membership software will need to be upgraded and/or replaced at some point during the three-year cycle. He closed his presentation by referring to a chart of projected revenues and expenditures, and repeated that the current and projected deficits may come in lower than originally projected.
The motion to approve the MSBA's three-year plan for 2010-12 and the budget for 2009-10 carried.
President Ford next recognized Karna Peters, member of the Minnesota CLE Board, and Frank Harris, Executive Director of Minnesota CLE, for the following agenda item:
E. Action on the Recommendation to approve the proposed Minnesota CLE Budget for 2009-10
Ms. Peters highlighted items from the written materials distributed in advance of the meeting. Among those highlights:
- The budget projects a slight reduction in revenue; coupled with cost savings, it comes in balanced.
- Current levels of live, webcast, video programming, and published materials will be maintained.
- Scholarships for lawyers in need and support for attorneys performing pro bono work will be continued.
- The Small Firm Resource Center will be expanded.
- Initiatives to expand live CLE programs in Greater Minnesota will continue.
The motion to approve the 2009-10 MCLE Budget carried.
President Ford called attention to announcements as they appeared in the meeting materials and as presented below:
A. Notice of elections (Elections will take place at the June 26, 2009 meeting of the Assembly.)
1. Nomination of Candidate for MSBA Secretary -- Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the MSBA Bylaws, §9.3, the representatives of the outstate affiliated district bars will nominate a candidate for MSBA Secretary on Saturday, June 6.
2. Nomination of the Outstate Representative to the Council – The term of Margaret Erickson, District 13, expires June 30, 2009. Ms. Erickson is eligible and interested in serving an additional term. (This nomination will also be made by the outstate representatives to the Assembly at their June 6 meeting.)
3. The Assembly, sitting as the members of the Minnesota State Bar Foundation, will elect directors of the Foundation. The three-year terms of the following directors expire on June 30, 2009: Robert Enger, Juan Hoyos, Warren Ortland, Gary Voegele, and Judge Lloyd Zimmerman. Mr. Enger, Mr. Ortland and Mr. Voegele are eligible and interested in serving an additional term. Mr. Hoyos and Judge Zimmerman are not interested in serving an additional term. In addition, Pamela Waggoner will resign from the Foundation Board effective June 30; opening a position to complete the final two years of her term.
B. Draft 2009-10 Assembly Meeting Schedule – Review these proposed dates and contact the MSBA staff with any concerns.
Friday, September 11 – Bar Leader Conference
Friday, December 11
Thursday, April 29
TBD -- June 2010
C. Future Meetings
Friday, June 26, 2009 9:00 a.m. – Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
The session adjourned at 3:00 p.m.
Aaron F. Biber
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, December 12, 2008, at the Minnesota CLE Center in Minneapolis. President Michael Ford presided, with Secretary Aaron Biber recording. The Roll Call is attached.
I. Presentation of the Elmer Wiblishauser Award. Mike McCarthy, chair of the MSBA Publications Committee, presented the 2008 Elmer Wiblishauser Award for the best article contributed to Bench & Bar to Dulce J. Foster, of the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, for her article, “Pursuing the Predators: Regulators’ Response to Mortgage Fraud.”
II. President’s Report
President Ford reported on a number of recent developments of interest to the Bar, among them:
- The MSBA Rules of Professional Conduct Committee has recommended no change to the current rules on bar admission in response to a proposal of the Institute for Justice that recommends allowing individuals who are not graduates of ABA-approved law schools to sit for the Minnesota bar exam.
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in November clarified that the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP) would include insurance coverage for IOLTA accounts.
- MSBA hosted a reception October 28 at its Minneapolis offices for law students to network with practicing attorneys and learn what MSBA has to offer.
- Bar leaders met in October with Minnesota Rep. Joseph Atkins to discuss his proposal to extend the so-called “diploma privilege” of admission to the Minnesota bar to graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in Minnesota.
- Among the programs being planned for the 2009 Convention in Duluth is a special conference on profitability for law firms.
- Bar leaders met with legislators on November 30 in St. Paul to raise awareness of issues involving funding for Minnesota’s legal system.
- Chief Justice Magnuson has convened a work group to explore ways to increase efficiencies in the criminal justice system.
- Representatives of the MSBA, together with members of the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Bar Associations, are working to enlist public access TV stations in the effort to raise public awareness of the need to support funding for Minnesota’s legal system. Minnesota CLE is making its video facilities available to tape programs conveying this message. The ABA has called for a summit meeting of bar leaders in April to discuss legal system funding.
- President-elect Leo Brisbois is consulting with the Minnesota District Judges Association and others to assess their interest in working with MSBA at the legislature regarding judicial elections.
- With respect to judicial evaluation, the District Judges Association has completed its study and issued a report. Justice G. Barry Anderson is chairing Minnesota’s Performance Evaluation Commission, to which Mary Vasaly has been appointed as the MSBA representative.
- President-elect Leo Brisbois is attending meetings of a tax study group developing expertise regarding sales tax on services in anticipation that this subject will come up at the legislature in the next session.
III. Treasurer’s Report
Treasurer Terry Votel reported that MSBA’s operating budget shows deficit spending consistent with the three-year plan. Due to the current economic situation, the Operations Committee asked staff to look for ways to cut expenses and reduce the deficit. Staff responded with a package of reductions totaling $160,000 to $170,000, including $63,000 saved by extending depreciation of fixed assets consistent with standard accounting practices. As a result, the deficit at June 30 is projected to be $180,000 instead of $350,000.
IV. Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director Tim Groshens advised that he had nothing to add to his written report distributed prior to the meeting.
V. Consent Calendar
A motion was made and seconded to approve consent calendar.
- Approval of minutes of the September 19, 2008 meeting
- Action to approve amendments to the Bylaws of the Construction Law Section
The motion carried.
VI. Additional Agenda Items.
A motion was made and seconded to amend the agenda to consider, together with the report of the Governance Committee, a proposal to recognize the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association as an affiliate of the MSBA. The motion carried.
VII. Elections & Appointments Committee.
Chair Aaron Biber presented the report of the committee and recommended consent to President Ford’s appointment of Donald Nichols, Hennepin County, and Steven Reyelts, St. Louis County, to the Minnesota CLE Board of Directors. There being no objection, the appointments were declared approved.
Mr. Biber next presented the committee’s recommendation that Gary Hird, Ramsey County, be appointed as the MSBA representative to the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program. There being no nominations from the floor, Mr. Hird was declared elected.
The next meeting of the Elections & Appointments Committee is set for April 15 and Qualifications and Interest statements are due March 31 from persons interested in being nominated. Positions will be available on: the Bar Admissions Advisory Council (2); the State Board of Continuing Legal Education (2); the Client Security Board (1); the Legal Services Advisory Committee (1); and the Board of Central Minnesota Legal Services (1). Three members will also be named to serve as ABA Delegates. The term of Mary Schneider, who currently serves as an ABA Delegate from outstate Minnesota, is expiring; a new delegate from outstate is needed to fill this role.
President Ford thanked Mr. Biber for his report and led the Assembly in extending special thanks to Mary Schneider for her long service as an ABA Delegate.
VIII. General Policy Committee
Chair Mary Ward presented the report and recommendations of the committee. She reported that the Committee met on December 2 to review proposals from the Criminal Law Section, the Human Rights Committee, and the Translation Task Force. The Committee recommends action on the proposal of the Criminal Law Section and has referred the reports of the Human Rights Committee and Translation Task Force back to those bodies for further work.
Ms. Ward then presented the Committee’s recommendation that the Assembly approve the Criminal Law Section’s proposal to set up a program for certification of specialists in criminal law. The recommendation was voted and approved.
The Committee further recommended that the Assembly approve the resolution of the Civic Education Committee that the MSBA recognize the responsibility that it and its members have to the public to ensure that Minnesota students experience high quality civic education. The recommendation was voted and approved.
President Ford noted that, since schools are cutting back funding for civic education in this time of tight budgets, the MSBA committee has an “uphill fight” to promote this objective.
IX. Governance Committee
Chair Fred Finch presented the report and recommendations of the Governance Committee. The Committee first recommended consent to the Construction Law Section’s proposal for revisions to its bylaws. The proposal was voted and approved.
Finch next presented the Committee’s recommendation that the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA) be added to the list of organizations recognized as affiliates of the MSBA; he noted that the FBA meets the criterion of having two-thirds of its members as members of the MSBA. The recommendation was voted and approved.
President Ford noted that MSBA currently comprises 21 affiliated district bar associations and 14—soon to be 15—specialty bar affiliates. He urged the Assembly to search for other bar associations that would qualify as affiliates.
X. Legislative Committee
Chair Sue Holden presented the report and recommendations of the committee. The committee met twice in November to consider 16 legislative proposals, 11 of which are recommended for endorsement.
Ms. Holden introduced Ron Beatty who moved approval of the proposals of the Business Law Section:
- to modify the effective date of the Minnesota Limited Liability Company Act (chapter 322B) to make it effective January 1, 2009, thereby qualifying for coverage LLCs in effect as of that date and eliminating the need for organizations to requalify;
- to amend the Minnesota Nonprofit Corporation Act (chapter 317A) to conform the terms of the act to those in other statutes affecting other organizations.
The motion was seconded and carried.
Ms. Holden next introduced Kevin Dunlevy, of the Real Property Law Section, who offered five proposals for approval by the Assembly:
- Technical amendments to the transfer on death deed (TODD) statute;
- To exempt designated transfers from the requirement to file a Certificate of Real Estate Value;
- To eliminate the need for affidavits by attorneys-in-fact;
- To expand Minn. Stat. §508.351 and §508A.351 to include Common Element Certificates of Title for planned communities;
- To establish a procedure for establishing cartways within municipalities.
The motion was seconded and carried.
Ms. Holden noted that lobbying resources had been designated by MSBA for support of these and the previously approved proposals.
She then introduced Scott Nelson, who presented the legislative recommendations of the Probate & Trust Law Section for approval:
- Increase the threshold for collection of personal property by affidavit from $20,000 to $50,000;
- Reinstate repealed Minn. Stat. §525.02 to give the court power to correct, modify, vacate or amend its records, orders and decrees;
- Technical corrections to the Probate Code;
- Amendments to the Darlene Luther Anatomical Gift Act to set the priority of responsibility for disposition of remains consistent with other statutes and to make the statute applicable to gifts made prior to the effective date of the statute.
The motion was seconded and carried.
Ms. Holden then introduced a series of “housekeeping resolutions: by the committee:
- recommending approval of the current legislative positions of the MSBA;
- recommending approval of the proposed allocation and management of the MSBA lobbyist’s time and effort to cover matters including judicial selection, funding for the courts, sales tax on services, section positions, and positions of the MSBA.
President Ford urged that the MSBA should consider articulating additional legislative positions in anticipation of issues of concern to the legal profession that are likely to arise in the current economic and political climate. The resolutions of the Committee were voted and approved.
Ms. Holden reported that the next meeting of the committee will be March 24, at which time proposals from the Business Law Section and the Human Rights Committee are likely to be considered. She invited additional proposals from sections and committees for consideration by the Committee.
XI. Operations Committee
Treasurer Terry Votel reported and presented recommendations on behalf of the Operations Committee. He noted that in 2006, when the MSBA last drafted a three-year plan, the Association had reserves equaling 52% of the operating budget and so drafted the plan to spend down reserves toward the recommended level of 25-30% of operating budget. Due to the current decline in markets, MSBA has come up with a strategy to significantly curtail deficit spending and now projects having reserves equal to 26% of operating budget at the July 1 onset of the new three-year plan. The Committee seeks to have revenues cover expenses in the next three-year plan and has directed staff not to have deficit operations, to explore enhancement of revenues, and to evaluate programs in terms of congruence with mission and member utilization and satisfaction. In February subcommittees will review staff budget proposals. The subcommittees will meet in March and make recommendations to the full committee, which will make recommendations to the Assembly for action in April.
Mr. Votel next introduced Peter Michael, of the MSBA Human Rights Committee, and Dr. Ellen Kennedy, of the University of Minnesota Center for Genocide Studies, who offered their proposal for the MSBA to divest in companies complicit in genocide in Sudan. Dr. Kennedy reported that the proposed divestment, modeled on the plan successfully employed to oppose apartheid in South Africa, has already gained the support of 27 states (including Minnesota) and several cities; MSBA would be the first professional association to do so. She noted further that the activities of the Government of Sudan in Darfur had been labeled as genocide in 2003-04 and that these activities are continuing. In response to a question regarding the effect such divestment would have on MSBA investments, Mr. Votel reported that MSBA’s Bremer Bank representative has advised that MSBA holds no direct investments in any of the companies involved but that a few of our mutual funds hold such shares. An annual review of mutual fund portfolios would reveal holdings that were not compliant with the resolution. Only about two dozen companies of over 500 operating in Sudan are listed for divestment, and these are companies directly connected to the Government of Sudan in providing arms and munitions. Mr. Votel noted further that Bremer Bank is notably conscious of social issues in handling MSBA investments, and that the MSBA has formerly divested funds in tobacco.
President Ford at this point turned over the chair to President-elect Leo Brisbois and moved to amend the resolution by appending two sentences as follows:
The MSBA will recommend to Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) that they join the MSBA in this divestment action. The MSBA will further notify companies whose securities the Association has divested of the divestment and of the reasons therefore.
The motion to amend was seconded and carried. The main motion was then carried unanimously. President Ford resumed the chair.
Mr. Votel then introduced the Assembly to a funding exercise, asking members to indicate how each would apportion/spend $1 of MSBA funds across programs. After completing the exercise individually, members were urged to join small groups and formulate their recommendations. The Operations Committee collected results for reference as they review proposals for the three-year plan.
XII. New Business
President Ford recognized Assembly member Brad Thorsen, noting that Brad is leaving his position as executive director of Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) to open his own law practice. He urged the Assembly to join him in extending congratulations and commendations to Brad on his work at VLN over the years.
The next meeting of the Assembly is set for April 30, 2009.
The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19, 2008, at the Minnesota CLE Center in Minneapolis. President Michael Ford presided, with Secretary Aaron Biber recording. The Roll Call is attached.
Judge Kathleen Sanberg presented the 2008 SAGE Awards to the General Counsel's Office of Excel Energy and to Dorsey & Whitney. Mike Connelly accepted the award on behalf of Excel Energy and Melissa Raphan accepted on behalf of Dorsey & Whitney.
II. President's Report
Mr. Ford discussed the development of a profitability conference to be held at the annual convention; the work of the MSBA in calling attention to and supporting efforts to provide adequate funding for the Courts; an Independence of the Courts Summit being formed by ABA; and encouraged members to participate in the judicial plebiscite which had been e-mailed to members.
III. Executive Director's Report
Mr. Groshens distributed his report by e-mail prior to the meeting.
IV. Treasurer's Report
Terry Votel presented the report as detailed in the meeting materials and deferred further discussion of the annual audit of the MSBA for fiscal year 2007-08 to later in the meeting.
V. Consent Calendar
A. Approval of minutes of the June 17, 2008, meeting
The minutes were approved as presented.
B. Action to approve Committee Chair appointments
Upon motion duly made and seconded, the appointments were approved.
C. Action to waive the policy limiting membership on the Legislative Committee to 20
Upon motion duly made and seconded, the appointments were approved.
D. Action to approve Assembly Committee appointments
Upon motion duly made and seconded, the appointments were approved.
VI. Elections/Appointments Committee
Aaron Biber, Chair, reported on the work of the Elections/Appointments Committee and presented the following recommendations:
A. Action on the Recommendation of the Elections/Appointments Committee that the Assembly nominate Richard Lareau, Hennepin County and Nancy Zalusky Berg, Hennepin County, to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board
Mr. Biber moved election of the candidates. No further nominations were made. The Assembly approved the nominations of Richard Lareau and Nancy Zalusky Berg to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.
B. Action on the Recommendation of the Elections/Appointments Committee that the Assembly nominate Angela Sipila, St. Louis County, to the Lawyer Trust Account Board
Mr. Biber moved election of the candidate. The Assembly approved the nomination of Angela Sipila to the Lawyer Trust Account Board. Ms. Sipila abstained.
C. Action on the Recommendation of the Elections/Appointments Committee that the Assembly nominate David Schultz, Ramsey County, to the Bar Admissions Advisory Council
Mr. Biber moved election of the candidate. A motion was made and seconded to end nominations and cast a unanimous ballot nominating David Schultz. The motion carried.
VII. Governance Committee
Committee Chair Fred Finch reported on the work of the Committee including development of a conflict of interest and disabilities policy and a policy on amicus briefs. The Committee anticipates having policies to present at the December meeting.
A. Action on the Recommendation to amend the bylaws of the Outstate Practice Section
A motion was made and seconded to approve the amendments as presented. The motion carried.
VIII. General Policy Committee
Mary Ward, Chair, reviewed the work of the Committee and presented the following recommendations:
A. Action on the recommendation on the resolution of the LAD Committee to Support Lawyer Involvement with Public Interest and Pro Bono Organizations.
Upon a motion duly made and seconded the Assembly approved the resolution.
B. Recommendation of the Diversity Implementation Task Force for implementing the Diversity Best Practices Guide
The Assembly approved the recommendation.
Justice Lorie Gildea abstained for voting on the issues presented by the General Policy Committee.
IX. Legislative Committee
Lloyd Grooms presented the Committee’s report on behalf of Committee Chair Susan Holden. The Committee held an organizational meeting on August 5 and will meet again in November to review legislative proposals. Prior to the November meeting, sections were encouraged to submit their proposals to the Committee, which would then be circulated to other sections for coordination. It is anticipated that the major issues during the upcoming session will be court funding and judicial selection. Mr. Grooms also encouraged members to join 1000Supporters.
X. Operations Committee
Terry Votel, Chair, discussed the efforts of the Investment Subcommittee to implement the resolution passed by the Assembly to change financial managers. The process is moving forward; the Council approved a contract with Bremer Bank earlier in the day. The full Operations Committee met last Wednesday and began work on the three-year plan.
Mr. Votel also reported on the work of the Audit Subcommittee, which met on September 7, and recommended approval of the audit. The Operations Committee joined in recommending acceptance of the audit. Rob Koch of Olson Thielen discussed the audit for both the MSBA and Minnesota CLE, as presented in the meeting materials. In response to a request from Mr. Votel, Mr. Koch discussed the internal control issues noted in the management letter. He indicated that this is a common concern in organizations of this size and that the MSBA is taking measures to improve controls.
A. Action on the recommendation to accept the audit of the MSBA General Fund and Minnesota CLE Fund for the year ending June 30, 2008.
Upon motion made and seconded, the Assembly accepted the audit of the MSBA General Fund and Minnesota CLE Fund for the year ending June 30, 2008.
B. Action for unbudgeted funding request from the Publications Committee
Mr. Votel moved approval of the funding request. Mike McCarthy, Publications Committee Chair, discussed the request for additional funding to pay authors to write three articles for Bench & Bar on the impact of funding cuts on the courts, legal aid and public defenders. Following discussion, the Assembly approved the recommendation of the Operations Committee. Brad Thorsen abstained.
C. Action on unbudgeted funding request from the Civil Gideon Task Force
Mr. Votel moved approval of the Task Force’s funding request. Members discussed various details of the funding request. The motion carried.
The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.
Aaron F. Biber