April 16-17, 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 April 2021 meeting was held in a virtual-only format.
. . .
TOP MEETING TAKEAWAYS
Proposed Rules for Discipline and Incapacity. Board members held a robust conversation about proposed amendments to the Rules for Discipline and Incapacity currently published for public comment by the Washington Supreme Court; they ultimately voted to recommend an extension of the comment period by 90 days; agreed to authorize sections to send comments directly to the court, bypassing the WSBA comment policy; and committed the WSBA to forward comments from all members to the court.
Bar exam resolution. The Washington Supreme Court has convened a year-long Washington Bar Licensure Task Force to evaluate current lawyer licensing requirements and recommend whether the court should consider alternatives. After gathering member feedback subsequent to the March meeting, the Board of Governors passed a resolution in support of a bar exam that reads:
- In order to ensure a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession, the WSBA supports the continued requirement of passing a bar exam before admission to the WSBA.
- The WSBA discourages diploma privilege as an alternative to a bar exam.
- The WSBA encourages a review of, and possible change to, the format and content of the bar exam to both strengthen and improve the bar exam as a tool to ensure the competent and ethical practice of law and to ensure there is no discriminatory effect on examinees of color and first generation examinees. The WSBA commits to working with testing and academic professionals to accomplish this review.
- The WSBA authorizes sections and committees to comment to the [court task force] on this issue without prior authorization or review by the Board of Governors or its Legislative Committee.
Budget reforecast. The Board approved the WSBA’s reforecast budget for fiscal year 2021. Read more on the Treasurer’s Report.
Local Hero and Presidential Commendations. WSBA President Kyle Sciuchetti honored former U.S. attorney and current Spokane City Attorney Mike Ormsby as a Local Hero. He also presented a special Presidential Commendation to members of the Spokane County Bar who have taken action during the past year to condemn systemic racism and educate and support other legal professionals to take action toward a fairer and more equitable justice system. The Spokane bar members leading this effort include: Francis Adewale, Emily Arneson, Jenaé M. Ball, D.C. Cronin, Theresa Cronin, Michele Fukawa, Julie Griffith, Margo Hill, Natasha Hill, Inga Laurent, Hon. Maryann Moreno, Morgan Maxey, Robert Murphy, Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, Briana Ortega, Kristina Ralls, Juliana Matthews Repp, Hon. Jeffrey Smith, and Rosey Thurman. Read more at www.wsba.org/news-events/media-center/media-releases.
Legislative update. The 2021 session adjourned April 25. The WSBA’s two bar-request bills—Senate Bill 5005, a Corporations Act revision bill; and Senate Bill 5034, a comprehensive update of the Nonprofit Corporations Act—were both signed by the governor into law in April. Overall this session, the WSBA referred more than 700 bills of potential interest to sections. Of those, sections requested that we track 489 for them. Working with the Board Legislative Committee (BLC), sections took a position on and provided testimony on 11 bills.
Additionally, the BLC supported funding for Resolution Washington, the statewide association of dispute resolution centers.
Long-range planning. What are the WSBA’s top priorities in the coming years? That is the area of focus for the WSBA Long-Range Strategic Planning Council. The Board of Governors approved the charter for this group as well as draft strategic goals; the council will now begin engaging with members as a whole as well as specific stakeholder groups to gather feedback about the draft strategic goals and tactics to accomplish those goals.
The Board also:
- Established a WSBA Small Town and Rural Committee to continue the Bar’s work to study and advance solutions to the access-to-justice gaps in Washington’s rural communities.
- Conducted a first reading of proposed amendments to Admission and Practice Rule 6 and the Law Clerk Program Regulations, as put forth by the Law Clerk Board. The amendments are meant to expand and clarify definitions and program processes.
- Agreed to become a formal partner with the Washington Joint Minority Mentorship Program, which pairs law students and new lawyers (who self-identify as being from any and all historically marginalized or underrepresented groups) with mentor attorneys and judges.
- Approved the request from the WSBA Diversity Committee to submit to the court a comment in support of the MCLE Board’s proposed amendments to Admission to Practice Rule 11.
. . .
The agenda, materials, and video recording from this Board of Governors meeting (held in Spokane and virtually), as well as past meetings, are online here: www.wsba.org/about-wsba/who-we-are/board-of-governors.
SAVE THE DATE
The next regular meetings are May 20-21 and July 15-17 (pending health directives regarding COVID-19).