March 18-19, 2021
The WSBA Board of Governors determines the Bar’s general policies and approves its annual budget.
Note: Because of public directives to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the March 2021 meeting was held in a virtual-only format.
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TOP 7 MEETING TAKEAWAYS
1. A moment of silence. The Board began with a moment of silence to honor and mourn the victims of the horrific shootings in Atlanta last week. Read the WSBA’s statement encouraging members to work together to eradicate anti-Asian racism at www.wsba.org.
2. The Bar Exam … Under Exam. In March, the Washington Supreme Court convened its Washington Bar Licensure Task Force to evaluate current lawyer licensing requirements and recommend whether the Court should consider alternatives. The WSBA is represented on the task force and will keep members updated as the Court establishes a webpage, resources, and feedback opportunities. After much dialogue, the Board tabled a resolution regarding its stance on the lawyer bar exam until its April meeting; an ad hoc Board task force will collect member feedback before then.
3. Financial confidence. Mitchell Hansen with accounting firm Clark Nuber confirmed that the WSBA has once again earned a “clean” (unmodified opinion) annual audit report. He noted that the WSBA has no audit adjustments in the report when “the average number of adjustments we identify is three to four …” for nonprofit organizations.
4. We need YOU! It’s volunteer recruitment season at the WSBA, and there are many, many committees and boards—which are critical to the legal profession and practice of law—to match members’ expertise, interests, and availability. Find more information here: www.wsba.org/connect-serve/volunteeropportunities.
5. Local Heroes. The WSBA honored two Local Heroes: Meredith Gerhart, a dedicated youth advocate and volunteer who strives to proactively engage in child-centered and trauma-focused representation (nominated by the Thurston County Bar Association); and Emily Nelson, a prolific volunteer dedicated to fighting for human rights who has devoted extensive time to helping people threatened with eviction during the COVID-19 crisis (nominated by the Government Lawyers Bar Association of Washington). Read more at: www.wsba.org/newsevents/media-center/media-releases.
6. The future of work at WSBA. At its January meeting, the Board of Governors authorized Executive Director Terra Nevitt to explore and execute a plan to shrink the WSBA’s office footprint through flexible remote schedules for most staff. This shift might also provide opportunities for other potential long-term goals, such as moving the main office location and/or creating satellite WSBA offices. (Note: the current office lease in downtown Seattle runs through 2026; the WSBA is gauging interest in subleases in the interim.)
7. Legislative update. The 2021 session is more than two-thirds complete. The WSBA is supporting two bills promoted by the Business Law Section—SB 5005 (concerning business corporations) and SB 5034 (concerning nonprofit corporations)—both of which have been voted out of the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee with a “do pass” recommendation. Overall this session, the WSBA has referred more than 700 bills of potential interest to sections. Of those, sections have requested that we track 480 for possible action.
The Board also:
- Voted to maintain the active Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) license fee at $229 next year. In November, the Board voted to increase the fee by $11, which the Washington Supreme Court disapproved.
- Approved an amendment to WSBA bylaws to provide an application/investigation fee waiver for Limited Practice Officers and LLLTs who return to active status from inactive status after 90 days or less. The amendment will now go before the Washington Supreme Court for review.
- Approved a request from the WSBA Pro Bono and Public Service Committee to submit a comment to the Washington Supreme Court in support of an amendment to APR 11 (to devote at least one of six MCLE credits per reporting period to the topic of “equity, inclusion, and the mitigation of bias in the legal profession”). Note: Public comments about this proposed rule amendment are due April 30. For more information, visit www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/.
- Heard the annual report from the Client Protection Fund. The fund balance at the beginning of 2020 was $3,816,143. The fund paid 33 applicants last year, for a total combined payout of $586,266.
- Reported back about equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts, including appointing a liaison, Alec Stephens, to the Washington Race, Equity, and Justice Initiative and connecting with minority bars.
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SAVE THE DATE
The next regular meeting is April 16-17 (pending health directives regarding COVID-19).
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The agenda, materials, and video recording from this virtual Board of Governors meeting, as well as past meetings, are online at www.wsba.org/about-wsba/who-we-are/board-of-governors.