Minnesota State Bar Association
Assembly Minutes 2011-12 Bar Year
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The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, 2012, at the Minnesota CLE Conference Center in Minneapolis. President Brent Routman presided, with Nancy Mischel recording. The Roll Call is attached.
President Routman welcomed Assembly members and asked if anyone present wished to make a motion to remove any of the items on the consent calendar. There were no motions.
Mr. Routman recognized the attorneys at Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp who have been involved in the MSBA Certified Legal Specialists program since its inception in 1988. Bob Bennett accepted the award on behalf of the firm.
Bernard Becker Awards
The 2012 Legal Services Staff Awards were presented to: Catherine M. Bushard, legal secretary, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Anne Hoefgen, supervising attorney, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota (LSNM). The Volunteer Law Student Award was presented to Adina Florea, a law student at William Mitchell College of Law who is planning to graduate in December 2012.
David Graven Public Service Award:
Dick Beens, Chair of the Committee, presented the award to Catherine Haukedahl, Executive Director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA).
II. President’s Report
President Routman highlighted several areas of interest:
· President-elect Bob Enger, Sue Holden, Cara Lee Neville and he attended ABA Day in Washington where they met with the Minnesota congressional delegation and their staff. MSBA members addressed Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The cut in LSC funding last year resulted in 1000 attorney layoffs across the country. VAWA has always been nonpartisan until this year. It is in Senate now and expired in 2011. There are three new provisions in the bill this year. President Routman encouraged members to contact their congressional representatives and ask that they vote to reauthorize VAWA.
· President Routman encouraged members to join the Amicus Society, stating that there is no cost to join, simply a commitment to spend five hours a year to educate the public on the role of the Court and the importance of the judiciary. Members will be invited to a reception at the Court this summer.
· Committee 36 needs experts in outstate practice, solo practice, government and public interest work and the politics behind the practice of law to take an occasional phone call from a participant who could use friendly advice. Contact Nancy Mischel of the MSBA staff if you are able to help.
III. Treasurer’s Report
Due to Treasurer Phil Duran’s absence, the report was delivered by Richard Kyle. Mr. Kyle referred members to the budget pages and stated the financials are all on track.
IV. Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director Tim Groshens did not submit a written report this month, but he highlighted a recent change in the MSBA Bylaws that limits the effectiveness of polices adopted by the Assembly to six years. Some policies are administrative in nature and responsibility for them should be transferred to Council. At the next Assembly meeting a list of all MSBA policies will be provided, similar to the list of current legislative positions.
V. Consent Calendar
President Routman asked if there were corrections to the draft minutes from the prior Assembly meeting. Hearing none, he indicated the minutes would stand as presented. President Routman asked again if any Assembly member wished to make a motion to remove any item from the Consent Agenda. Hearing no response, a motion was made, seconded, and carried to adopt the Consent Calendar, Items A-E below.
A. Elections/Appointments Committee
1. Nominate Dan Tollefson, Sherburne County, to the Client Security Board
2. Nominate Blair Buccicone, Dakota County, and Leonardo Castro, Ramsey County, to the Bar Admissions Advisory Council
3. Nominate Craig Dokken, Hennepin County, and Brett Olander, Ramsey County, to the State Board of Continuing Legal Education
4. Nominate Brad Thorsen, Hennepin County, to the Legal Services Advisory Committee
5. Elect Carol Klaphake, Stearns County, and Patrick O’Donnell, Wright County, to the Central Minnesota Legal Services Board
6. Elect John Dornik, Hennepin County, Juan Hoyos, Ramsey County, Patrick Kelly, Ramsey County, and Brent Routman, Hennepin County as MSBA delegates to the ABA
B. General Policy Committee
The Minnesota State Bar Association will sign on to the American Bar Association’s “Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession: A Pledge for Change”
C. Governance Committee
1. Create the Military & Veterans Affairs Section
2. Amend section 13.2 of the MSBA Bylaws related to the amicus brief procedures for sections and committees
3. Amend Section 4.1 of the MSBA Bylaws related to the judiciary powers of the Assembly
D. Council/Operations Committee
Approve changes in section dues:
Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy
Food Drug & Device
Probate & Trust
$25 (new admittee)
$0 (new admittee)
$39 (new admittee)
$0 (new admittee)
Computer & Technology
Practice Management & Marketing
*If the proposed increase in the administrative fee goes into effect, the Section will decrease its dues from $24 to $22, such that the total dues remain level at $30. If the proposed administrative fee increase does not occur, the Section will maintain its dues at the $24 level shown in the Dues Declaration.
E. Approve the Minnesota CLE 2012-13 budget
VI. Additional Agenda Items
President Routman asked if there were additional agenda items. Ms. Erickson stated there is an opening on the Council as of July 1 for someone from greater Minnesota (defined as outside of Hennepin and Ramsey counties). It is a three-year term. The Council meets nine times per year and participation by phone is possible. A qualifications and interest statement needs to be completed and can be obtained from Joni Fenner of the MSBA staff.
President-elect Enger informed Assembly members that he is starting the Northstar Attorney Program, which recognizes attorneys who certify they have completed 50 or more hours of pro bono work per year. These attorneys will be recognized in public at an event, and they will receive a certificate of some sort.
VII. Council/Operations Committee
Operations Committee Co-Chair Richard Kyle presented the Council/Operations Committee proposal to increase MSBA dues by $5 for regular member categories and a pro rata amount for other membership categories for the following years: 2012-13; 2013-14; and 2014-15. Although the Council has responsibility for the budget, an increase in membership dues still needs Assembly approval. Mr. Kyle reported that the initial proposed budget contained a $200,000 deficit. The officers met with executive staff and came close to balancing the budget (it still has a 1% deficit) through a combination of cuts and revenue increases. Mr. Kyle highlighted a $2 increase in the section administrative fee to pay for additional section staff, a new pro bono attorney recognition program called Northstar Lawyers funded at $15,000 and FastCase contract renewal negotiations that should result in some savings. Recognizing the dues increase will be a hardship for some members, Mr. Kyle indicated the Assembly would hear some proposals to address that concern in the future. A motion was made, seconded and carried to approve the dues increase as presented.
VIII. Judiciary Committee
Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Unger presented the judicial plebiscite recommendation, including a short history of the MSBA plebiscite, the Committee’s process of developing its recommendation, and how the current modified plebiscite proposal was developed.
Discussion centered on whether other options were considered and which MSBA sections would likely participate in a revised plebiscite. Chris Morris, Chair of HCBA’s Plebiscite Committee, read a statement from HCBA President-elect Tom Jensen who could not attend the meeting. The statement indicated opposition to any plan to eliminate the plebiscite and the need to support those in public service. The statement opined that the cost to conduct the plebiscite is small in comparison to its value and importance.
A motion was made, seconded and passed to adopt the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation.
IX. Legislative Committee
Committee Chair Thad Lightfoot reported that the legislature passed all three section positions that were MSBA priorities. Nine bills were opposed by sections and none of them have passed. It appears the session is likely to end on Monday. MSBA lobbyists provided technical assistance for many bills and monitored 125 bills. On the overarching issues of MSBA concern, namely the sales tax on legal services, justice system funding and retention elections for judges, no bills passed this session.
X. Discussion Item
President Routman and General Policy Committee Co-Chair Margaret Erickson led the Assembly in a general discussion about the types of policies the Assembly would like to discuss. Members suggested the following:
· What bar associations will look like in the coming years and next decade; the value proposition is changing and we need to take into account how to engage younger generations.
· Issue of service, not just pro bono, but service as a whole (ie: Rotary Clubs, etc). Public relations; how to improve the image of lawyers to public; should we be doing more in that way as an association? How can we draw the public’s attention to the good lawyers are doing?
· Does Minnesota need four law schools graduating so many lawyers?
· The MSBA had an MDP Task Force; their recommendation was defeated by the Assembly. Society is even more interconnected now and the MSBA can be proactive or reactive. We should relook at MDP because it will either sweep over us, or we can be proactive to ensure integrity stays intact.
· Look at specialty practice areas; the MSBA offers certification in only four areas – we need to really promote specialty certification more than we are.
· How to marshal our limited financial resources; where we prioritize; need to begin preparing for ideal vision. Members are getting far more energized in sections as a result of increasingly specialized practices. Need to ensure sections are as robust and meaningful as possible.
President Routman indicated the Council and General Policy Committee would look further at these suggestions.
XI. New Business
LawPAC Chair Nena Street informed members that LawPAC is the political arm of the MSBA and it is both nonpartisan and nonprofit. Formed 15-20 years ago, it is in the process of building back up from a dormant period. LawPAC exists to support the work of our legislative leaders at the Capitol. To be effective at the legislature, the MSBA needs to have legislators who know us. LawPAC is on a campaign to raise money from trustees, the Council, and the Assembly, no matter the amount. LawPAC is also recruiting trustees for the upcoming bar year. The website mnlawpac.com is offline right now, but it is coming back.
Mr. Routman summarized the announcements printed on the Agenda including elections that will be on the June Assembly agenda for the MSBA Board and Minnesota CLE Board, potential Assembly meeting dates for 2012-13, and the next meeting of the Assembly scheduled for June 29 at 9:00 a.m.
The meeting adjourned at 2:10 p.m.
Recommended for approval,
The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2011, at the Minnesota CLE Conference Center in Minneapolis. President Brent Routman presided, with Dick Ericson recording. The Roll Call is attached.
President Routman noted that this was the first Assembly meeting conducted with online video conference capability, which permitted members, unable to attend in person, to view the proceedings, pose questions, and submit votes.
Elmer Wiblishauser Award
Publications Committee Chair Christopher Stall presented this annual award to Jeff Alden for his May/June 2011 Bench & Bar article entitled "Lost in the Virtual World: Fending Off Online Buccaneers." Alden has published eight previous articles on multiple themes in the MSBA's monthly magazine.
Citizen Lawyer Award
Eldon Kaul, former Chair of the Civic Education Committee, presented this annual award to Tenth District Judge James Dehn for contributions to the MSBA Mock Trial program. Judge Dehn, who was instrumental in launching the program and has represented the state at national competitions for some 20 years, praised MSBA Mock Trial Manager Emily Reilly for steering the program to achieve national recognition.
President Routman singled out two MSBA members for Presidential Commendations.
Robert McLeod, an attorney with Lindquist & Vennum, developed a comprehensive set of guardianship/conservatorship forms in the wake of 2003 legislation. Mr. McLeod secured approval for his forms by the Conference of Chief Judges, and shared his work product with all MSBA members via the Bar's practicelaw.org website. He has worked with MSBA staff since that time to revise and update postings.
Ronald Gandrud, an attorney with Walsh Title & Real Estate Services and an MSBA Certified Real Property Specialist, has served on the state's Uniform Conveyancing Blank Task Force since its inception. In that capacity, he has served real property practitioners and has played a key role in protecting the property interests of all Minnesotans. Along with other task force members, Mr. Gandrud has been instrumental in developing online versions of the forms at practicelaw.org.
II. President’s Report
President Routman preceded his report by acknowledging a recent courtroom shooting by a convicted defendant in Grand Marais. Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell suffered gunshot wounds in the attack, which also targeted a witness.
He went on to highlight several items of interest.
· Mary-Margaret Zindren, formerly with the League of Minnesota Cities, has assumed the role of Executive Director of the Hennepin County Bar Association.
· The Dispute Resolution Center recently presented its A.M. "Sandy" Keith Alternative Dispute Resolution Award to the MSBA ADR Section for its efforts to promote and advance alternative dispute resolution in the east metro area. ADR Section Chair Patrick Burns accepted the award on behalf of the section.
· Together with 33 lawyers and judges, President Routman recently traveled to Cuba to study that country's judicial system and to foster professional relations. The trip, fully funded by the participants themselves, will be detailed in an upcoming Bench & Bar article.
· A new column in Bench & Bar will highlight significant pro bono activities by the private bar. The column is intended to recognize and encourage pro bono.
· The Council of Bar Leaders continues to coordinate meetings of statewide bar associations and networks to discuss common issues, including judicial funding and legislation.
· MSBA sections and committees have also formed their own councils to foster cohesiveness and to work on common goals and initiatives.
· The MSBA's new Committee 36 addresses the needs of recent law school graduates and attorneys as they start their careers. Building in part on a Utah program that matches graduates with personal mentors, the committee will work with new graduates to identify individual action plans and bridges to MSBA resources. The MSBA intends to present the program at the ABA Mid-Year Meeting in New Orleans. President Routman invited all Assembly members to participate.
· A recent Access to Justice Summit addressed critical civil legal needs of low-income Minnesotans. With revenues from IOLTA and public funds dwindling and the ranks of persons qualifying for services increasing, these programs are finding it harder than ever to serve individuals. The Summit discussed efforts to increase funding and to identify allies to meet the needs.
III. Treasurer’s Report
Treasurer Phil Duran directed attention to the written report distributed prior to the meeting. Compared to the same period in the prior fiscal year, expenses were up slightly, but dues income was ahead of the previous year, more than balancing out expenses. The percentage of licensed Minnesota attorneys with active memberships was also up at 69%, an increase that Mr. Duran said might indicate a higher perceived value of membership.
IV. Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director Tim Groshens directed attention to his written report.
V. Consent Calendar
President Routman asked if there were corrections to the draft minutes from the prior Assembly meeting. Hearing none, he indicated that the minutes would stand as presented. A motion was then made, seconded, and carried to accept the Consent Calendar.
VI. Additional Agenda Items
There were no new agenda items.
VII. Elections/Appointments Committee
A motion was made, seconded, and carried to close nominations and to approve the Committee's recommendation to elect Nerissa Irizarry to a client position on the MVAP Board.
President Routman then called the question on the Committee's recommendation to amend the LawPAC Constitution as detailed in official meeting materials. The motion carried.
A motion was made, seconded, and carried to close nominations and to declare as elected the Committee's recommendations for seven at-large trustees of LawPAC. Elected were incumbents Ken Engel, Greg Korstad, and Nena Street; and new trustees Tom Hanson, Jim Horan, Gail Kulick, and Jennifer Santini.
VIII. General Policy Committee
Committee Co-Chair Margaret Erickson presented a brief report on the work of the group, then turned to two of its recommendations to the Assembly.
The first recommendation was presented in the meeting materials as part of a report on "Access to Justice: Assessing Implementation of Civil Gideon in Minnesota." Mary Schneider and Kent Harbison, co-chairs of the MSBA Civil Gideon Task Force, described the unmet civil legal needs of low-income Minnesotans as well as the programs intended to meet those needs, all of which were hindered by critical funding shortfalls. The report included nine recommendations intended to address the need and to promote the concept of "Civil Gideon" -- which would establish a right to counsel corresponding to that afforded to defendants in criminal matters -- and to design a delivery system.
Discussion on the floor clarified that the motion would constitute only Assembly acceptance of the task force report. President Routman called the question; the motion carried. Justice Dietzen abstained.
Ms. Erickson then introduced Patrick Burns, LAD Committee member and First Assistant Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, for a report and recommendation regarding pro bono services by emeritus and inhouse counsel.
Mr. Burns told members that the LAD Committee recommendations were intended to expand the scope of pro bono services by revising the licensing conditions of these two categories of attorneys. Under current Minnesota rules, attorneys licensed in other states are permitted to provide legal advice to single employers under an inhouse counsel relationship, but may not provide pro bono services. The proposal would permit these attorneys, as well as those currently retired or inactive but with no current disbarments or suspensions, to provide pro bono services provided they satisfy CLE requirements as described in the written materials.
The LAD Committee report noted that a related recommendation had been approved by the MSBA and presented in a Supreme Court petition in 2010, but had not been approved. In its order, the Court noted administrative concerns raised by individual state boards, as well as additional costs associated with administration. The report and recommendation before the Assembly was intended to address those concerns.
Discussion centered on the CLE requirements as detailed in the recommendation. Attorneys providing pro bono services under these new emeritus or retired categories would be required to report at least five credits in each regular three-year cycle, with one credit each in ethics and elimination of bias and three credits in the area of law in which they provided the pro bono services through established legal services providers. Attorneys providing pro bono services in more than one area of law would be required to meet this portion of the CLE requirement for each area.
President Routman called the question to approve the report and recommendation to present the proposal in petition form to the Supreme Court. The recommendation carried with one abstention by Justice Christopher Dietzen.
IX. Governance Committee
Committee Co-chairs Fred Finch and Sonia Miller-VanOort gave a brief report on the work of the Committee, and then directed attention to a printed report with recommendations to amend MSBA Bylaw Articles 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15.
Mr. Finch told members that the amendments were intended to restructure MSBA governing bodies and to reassign leadership responsibilities. He said the report stemmed from concerns addressed by members and by Bar leadership; he cited questions regarding the Council's authority as well as perceptions that the Assembly was too large to function effectively as a board of directors under Minnesota law governing nonprofit organizations.
Following a series of small group meetings examining the functions of the Assembly and Council, Mr. Finch indicated that the Committee determined that it was not appropriate to appoint a new task force or to reinvent the governance process. While this had been done in the past, Mr. Finch said that the Governance Committee instead recommended minimal changes to MSBA bylaws intended to reassign the board of directors function to the Council and to implement additional changes.
He directed attention to a redlined version of bylaw changes and presented a brief summary of the implications of those changes. Under the recommendation, the Assembly would still control policy, positions, strategic plans, issues affecting the profession, Association bylaws, elections, dues, and legislative proposals. In this capacity, the Assembly would be fully empowered to make all substantive policy decisions and to debate issues affecting the profession. The Council would assume authority in the areas of policy compliance, fiscal responsibility, and all daily operations, serving as the MSBA's board of directors under the Minnesota Nonprofit Corporation Act. A newly formed Executive Committee comprised of current officers would meet as needed, and would be authorized to act in emergency conditions with the authority of the Council.
In addition, the Operations Committee of the Assembly would be transferred to the Council. A new Judiciary Committee, with the full authority of other Assembly committees, would replace the current Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Finch said these bylaw amendments addressed the perception that the Assembly was too large to function effectively as a board of directors, while preserving the Assembly's intended role as a representative and deliberative body.
Following discussion, a motion was made and seconded to defer the report and recommendation to the next Assembly meeting. President Routman then passed control as presiding officer to President-Elect Bob Enger in order to speak personally on the motion. Mr. Routman cited concerns that the size of the Assembly hindered its ability to function as a board of directors, and characterized the current recommendation as an effort to strengthen policy deliberations of the Assembly while enabling the Council to function more effectively as the MSBA board of directors. A motion was made and seconded to close debate on the motion to defer. The motion to close debate carried. The Assembly voted on the motion to defer. The motion failed.
President-Elect Enger, serving at this point as presiding officer, then called the question on the main motion to approve the report and its recommended amendments to MSBA Bylaws. The main motion carried.
President-Elect Enger passed control back to President Routman.
X. Legislative Committee
Committee Co-Chair Thad Lightfoot directed attention to a report distributed prior to the meeting. While MSBA sections had submitted eight proposals, seven of these were deemed by the Legislative Committee to require further vetting by the MSBA, and were not before the Assembly during this session.
Mr. Lightfoot then presented the single action item, a proposal of the Probate & Trust Law Section recommending amendments to Minn. Stat. §524.6 allowing for the appointment of an agent over a multi-party account who has no property interest in the account.
President Routman called the question on the Probate & Trust Law Section's legislative proposal. The motion carried.
XI. Operations Committee
Committee Co-Chair Phil Duran indicated that the committee had no report.
Mr. Groshens directed attention to a written report and recommendation to purchase new Association Management Software. Mr. Groshens indicated that the Bar's current AMS was nearing the end of its service life; following a review by staff of new products on the market, the Council had passed on a recommendation to the Assembly to purchase a more robust system to process billings and to serve members. He introduced MSBA staff members Denise Plachecki and Nancy Mischel to summarize the report and its recommendations.
Ms. Plachecki indicated that one key advantage of the recommended Aptify platform would be to ensure integration of member data with live webpages available to members. In addition to the Aptify AMS product, the MSBA would install and configure new webpages built under a Sitefinity Content Management System.
These webpages will integrate with member data in Aptify, and will allow members to submit payments, with charges effective immediately, and to manage their own address fields. The new system will also allow prospective members to log in and receive trial access to selected services. MSBA staff will have access to the system at institutes and from remote locations via browser interface.
These functions, together with others identified in the report, followed a study and review by MSBA staff. Ms. Plachecki reported that the team assigned to this project developed a function list, followed by a feature list presented to several vendors offering web-based AMS systems.
The result of that study was the recommendation to acquire Aptify and Sitefinity Content Management System. The new AMS presents the potential to reduce staff assignments, to streamline processes, and to serve members more effectively. She directed attention to a draft implementation plan and to a master document addressing risks.
Ms. Mischel then discussed contract negotiations, which were still underway at the time of the Assembly meeting. The recommendation before the Assembly was to act on the Council's recommendation to approve the new AMS, and to grant the Council authority to approve the final contract. She indicated that total costs were expected to be $763,000, with $114,000 coming from the current fiscal year reallocated to the project.
The Investment Subcommittee had reviewed options to pay for the system. In early Fall 2011, that subcommittee considered financing out of MSBA reserves, but that discussion took place before final costs had been determined. MSBA reserves stood at 38% of operating budget at the time of the Assembly meeting, and the MSBA strives to maintain reserves at 25-30%. The price noted above would reduce reserves to 22%. The Investment Subcommittee will review all numbers after contract negotiations are complete, and will present its final recommendation regarding financing of the project at that time.
President Routman called the question on the Council's recommendation to approve the purchase of a new AMS system. The motion carried.
XIII. New Business
There was no new business.
A. Notice of nominations/appointments to the following boards:
(Election of nominees will take place at the April 26, 2012 meeting of the Assembly. Members should encourage any Association member who is interested in being nominated to submit a Qualifications and Interest Statement to the MSBA office by Friday, March 16.)
1. Client Security Board -- The term of Richard Nethercut, Fillmore County, expires June 30, 2012. Mr. Nethercut has served two terms and is not eligible to serve an additional term.
2. State Board of Continuing Legal Education – The terms of Christopher Cain, Blue Earth County, and Judge Kathleen Sanberg, Hennepin County, expire June 30, 2012. Mr. Cain and Judge Sanberg have served two terms and are not eligible to serve an additional term.
3. Legal Services Advisory Committee -- The term of Edward Cassidy, Ramsey County, expires July 1, 2012. Ms. Cassidy has served two terms and is not eligible to serve an additional term.
4. Bar Admissions Advisory Council – The terms of Donald Campbell, Hennepin County, and Leonardo Castro, Ramsey County, expire July 1, 2012. Both Mr. Campbell and Mr. Castro are eligible to serve an additional term.
4. Central Minnesota Legal Services – The terms of Carol Klaphake and Patrick O’Donnell expire April 30, 2012. Both Ms. Klaphake and Mr. O’Donnell are eligible to serve an additional term.
5. MSBA/ABA Delegates – The terms of John Dornik, Jon Duckstad, Juan Hoyos, and Brent Routman expire at the end of the ABA meeting in August. Mr. Dornik, Mr. Hoyos, and Mr. Routman are eligible to serve an additional term. Mr. Duckstad has served three terms and is not eligible for another term.
B. Future Meetings
Thursday, April 26, 2012 -- Noon (Minnesota CLE)
Friday, June 29, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. (Minnesota CLE)
The meeting adjourned at 3:02 p.m.
Recommended for approval,
Richard H. Kyle
The meeting was called to order at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 9, 2011, at the Minnesota CLE Conference Center in Minneapolis. President Brent Routman presided, with Jud Haverkamp recording. The Roll Call is attached.
I. Roll Call
The Secretary reported that a quorum of members was present.
II. President’s Report
· President Routman thanked members for their attendance at the Bar Leader training and noted that the sessions were drawing unprecedented attendance. A third and final session is forthcoming.
· A Council of Sections is being formed and will have its first meeting in October. The group is being formed to address the problem of silos in the Association and to promote better coordination among sections in terms of legislation, programs, and joint sponsorship of activities.
· A new Council of Bar Leaders will also meet for the first time in October. This Council includes leaders from multiple bar organizations in Minnesota and seeks to promote networking and collaborative effort on issues of common concern.
· MSBA’s Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee has released a study on barriers to access to justice. MSBA, being in a unique position to facilitate a response, will be bringing stakeholders together to study the report, discern where money is coming from to support access to justice, discuss how to expand legal services capacity to meet needs of the courts, and improve the efficiency of the system.
· From October 9-14 MSBA will be leading a delegation of Minnesota lawyers on a visit to Cuba to study the Cuban judicial system. Over 30 members have signed up to participate.
· MSBA is leading a national group of state bar associations in an effort to obtain a $5 million foundation grant to support civic education. If the effort is successful, each state bar will receive $100,000 to support civic education.
· MSBA is working to promote members’ involvement and engagement with the affairs of the Association. 1000 Supporters, which exists to support MSBA’s legislative efforts, is one way to get involved. Volunteers are also needed to raise public awareness of the role of the courts and foster civic education by speaking to service clubs and the public.
· The Council proposes to create Committee 36, a new committee to serve and engage new lawyers and meet the challenge of declining MSBA membership as baby boomers retire. Designed to communicate the value and demonstrate the relevance of MSBA to members, the new committee is to be chaired by Kendra Brodin. Ms. Brodin reported that the committee intends to focus on offering new lawyers things not learned in law school and things they need to be successful as well as spreading the word among new lawyers about what MSBA can offer them.
· New technology is available that may enable Assembly members to participate in Assembly meetings from offsite locations over the internet. MSBA will attempt to have this in place in time for the December Assembly meeting.
II. Executive Director’s Report
Tim Groshens indicated he had nothing to add to his written report which was distributed prior to the meeting.
III. Treasurer’s Report
Phil Duran introduced Rob Koch Olson Thielen and invited him to present their report of the audit of MSBA and MSBA’s Form 990.
Mr. Koch advised that the audit report is a consolidated report covering both MSBA and MCLE. The MCLE report has already been approved by the MCLE Board. The report presents a clean, unqualified audit opinion. Net assets increased from last year for both MSBA and MCLE. While the report notes that financial controls do not meet audit guidelines for corporations, the controls in place are adequate for organizations of MSBA’s size. The auditors recognize that it would not be cost-effective for the Association to add staff to meet the more generally applicable audit guidelines for financial controls. Reserves currently equal 37% of the operating budget for MSBA as against a target of 25-30%. The Form 990 report, which is required by the Internal Revenue Service, shows very little change from last year.
Mr. Duran advised the Assembly that the Operations Committee recommends adoption of the Form 990 report and acceptance of the audit. The recommendation was voted and carried.
IV. President-Elect Report
Bob Enger briefly called the Assembly’s attention to key issues facing the legal profession in Minnesota in the year ahead. He singled out for particular mention the issues of judicial merit selection and retention, which are under discussion nationwide. He reported that he and Mr. Routman recently attended a meeting in St. Louis with other bar association leaders to discuss how to keep “big money” out of the judicial selection process.
V. Consent Calendar
Richard Kyle presented the minutes of the Assembly meeting of June 24, 2011. There was no discussion.
Mr. Kyle next called for action to approve appointments to Assembly Committees. Mr. Routman advised the Assembly that the Council tried very hard to honor individual requests for committee appointments.
The consent calendar was then voted and carried.
A motion was made and seconded to remove the current cap on the membership of the Legislative Committee and to increase its membership to the level permitted by the bylaws. The motion carried.
A motion was then made and seconded to authorize the MSBA President to reassign Assembly members who had expressed primary interest in the Legislative Committee to that committee. The motion carried.
VI. Elections/Appointments Committee
Mike Wahlig reported on behalf of the committee and presented nominees to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board – Nancy Zalusky Berg and Richard Lareau; the Board of Legal Certification – M. William O’Brien; and the Bar Admissions Advisory Council – David Schultz. There being no nominees from the floor, the Committee’s nominees were nominated.
VII. General Policy Committee
Judge Kathy Sandberg and Margaret Erickson, Co-Chairs, presented on behalf of the Committee. They introduced Alan Hayes and Leslie Altman who presented the Diversity Survey Update Committee Report. The survey repeated studies of diversity issues in the legal profession conducted in previous years. The current study was unusual in looking not only at race and gender but also at religion and LGBT status. Individual surveys were disseminated by email to 15,000 lawyers in Minnesota, eliciting responses from roughly 1,100. Firms, other employers, and individuals were surveyed using different instruments. The Committee also conducted focus groups with various groups to ascertain differences in perspective across groups. While the results are not statistically representative of the population of Minnesota lawyers, the co-chairs advised that they show significant trends.
Summarizing the findings, the co-chairs urged that much work remains to be done in the area of diversity overall. Unconscious bias is an area of continuing concern and perspectives on diversity-related issues and behaviors may vary across groups.
The General Policy Committee recommended adoption of the report as an MSBA report. The recommendation was voted and carried.
VIII. Governance Committee
Sonja Miller-Van Oort reported on behalf of the Governance Committee. The Committee expects to spend the coming months reviewing the current governance structure and looking for efficiencies that can be achieved with the Assembly and Council. The group expects to have recommendations regarding a plan of action ready to present to the Assembly by December 2011.
IX. Legislative Committee
Thad Lightfoot, Co-Chair, reported that the Committee will meet with sections, committees, and members of the Uniform Law Commissioners at the MSBA offices on October 11. The deadline for bill proposals to be submitted to the Committee is October 28. After reviewing proposals, the Committee will submit its recommendations to the Assembly on December 16.
X. Operations Committee
Mr. Duran reported the Committee had received requests from the New Lawyers Section and the Civic Education Committee to carry forward funds from 2010-11 into 2011-12. The committee recommended approval of these requests, which were voted and carried.
On behalf of the Council, Mr. Routman requested a motion be made to form Committee 36 (see President’s Report). A motion to form the committee was made, seconded and carried.
Mr. Routman then called on Thad Lightfoot to present the Council’s proposals for changes to MSBA’s legislative bylaws and procedures. Mr. Lightfoot reported that the impetus for the proposed changes arose from concern to ensure that the MSBA was appropriately prioritizing legislative priorities and allocating resources planned for expenditure to pursue those priorities. He advised that the report had been circulated to sections and committees for comment and the few responses that were received had been incorporated into the document presented to the Council, which then approved the revised report and recommendations.
He identified key elements of the report and recommendations as: 1) a recommendation to move funds authorized for legislative activity last year into this year’s budget and authorize the Council to expend these funds if needed to promote MSBA’s legislative agenda; 2) a resolution to amend the Restated MSBA Bylaws to allow the President to preempt legislative action by a section or committee without placing the matter on the Council agenda, but allowing for appeal of the President’s decision to the Council; 3) resolutions to address the MSBA’s ability to set legislative priorities between Assembly meetings, to allow the Council to set priorities and change them during the legislative session with input of the Legislative Committee, and to enable the Council to take positions during the legislative session. The Assembly could reverse any legislative position taken by the Council when the Assembly next met.
Mr. Routman then moved the report and recommendations as a single motion.
Members expressed concern that sections still be able to take section-only positions. Mr. Lightfoot pointed out that there are a number of ways for sections, committees, and the MSBA to influence legislation apart from taking official positions and that the intent of the recommendations is not to take any of these away but simply to clarify when these actions are appropriate.
A motion was made and seconded to amend the language of the second sentence under the heading “Legislative Activity” on page 9 of the materials, removing the prefatory statement “Without taking official positions” and the subsequent phrase “may still.” As amended the sentence would read, “Sections and committees positively and significantly influence the legislative process by providing technical advice and drafting assistance to policymakers and stakeholders.” Concern was expressed that under the proposal sections and committees may not have time to act, may not be able to respond timely to appeal the President’s preemption of their legislative action. Mr. Lightfoot responded that the report and recommendations were designed to enable more timely response. The amendment was then voted and carried.
A member noted that on page 7 of the materials, under the heading “Charge of the Legislative Committee, the text refers to the Legislative Committee as including “no more than 20 members.” The member noted that the Assembly earlier raised the size of the committee to 40 members as permitted by the bylaws. (See Consent Calendar). Mr. Lightfoot acknowledged the inconsistency and observed that the size of the committee had been reduced since the committee cannot work without a quorum. He urged that those who sign up for the enlarged committee need to be committed to participate or the committee will not be able to operate.
A motion was made and seconded to amend the phrase “no more than 20 members” in the Charge of the Legislative Committee to read “no more than 40 members …“. The motion carried.
A question was then raised regarding proposed changes to §12.2 of the Bylaws as given on page 6 of the materials. A member observed that while a simple majority of the Council is required to approve official MSBA positions, a 2/3 vote of the Council would be required to override the President’s decision to preempt a section or committee position. Fred Finch, speaking on behalf of the Governance Committee, advised that the Governance Committee had not reviewed this question and took no position on the matter. Mr. Lightfoot advised that the difference was to reflect that the Council had opportunity to consider official MSBA positions in depth before voting whereas appeals of the President’s decision would require the Council to act quickly with less opportunity to examine the issues.
motion was made and seconded to amend the proposed MSBA Legislative Policy as
presented on page 10 of the materials to read as follows: “Before undertaking
any legislative action, sections and committees
must may, where
practicable, coordinate their activities with the MSBA lobbyists . No
legislative action may be taken without first coordinating with the MSBA
lobbyists.” Mr. Lightfoot noted that since legislators are likely to
understand section positions as MSBA positions, it is necessary for sections
and committees to coordinate their legislative activities with MSBA to preserve
the MSBA’s priorities and effectiveness. He acknowledged that such coordination
may be problematic but argued that the Assembly shouldn’t let “the tail wag the
The motion to amend was voted and failed.
was made and seconded to amend the proposed last sentence of §12. 2 of the
Articles, as given on page 6 of the materials. As amended, the new sentence
would read: “
A section or committee may appeal tThe President’s
decision to preempt the legislative action of section or committee will be
appealed to the Council, which may reverse or amend the President’s
decision by a two-thirds majority vote of members present and
voting.” Those favoring the amendment voiced concern for the difficulty
sections and committees would face calling their members together on short
notice to initiate an appeal. Those in opposition noted that under the
amendment any action by the President would automatically be appealed to the
Council, regardless whether the involved section or committee supported or
opposed the decision of the President.
The motion to amend was then voted and failed.
A member then rose with a question of privilege, moving amendment of the proposed last sentence of §12.2 to correct a typographical error. The amendment would amend the sentence as follows: “ … legislative action of the section or committee … “.
The question on the main motion as amended was then called. The motion carried.
XII. New Business
There was no new business.
The Assembly was adjourned at 3:15 PM
Recommended for approval,