Sept. 23-25, 2021
The WSBA Board of Governors determines the Bar’s general policies and approves its annual budget.
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TOP MEETING TAKEAWAYS
WSBA Leadership for the New Fiscal Year. The Board honored outgoing President Kyle Sciuchetti and Governors Russell Knight, P.J. Grabicki, and Jean Y. Kang. Chief Justice Steven González swore in WSBA President Judge Brian Tollefson (Ret.), President-Elect Daniel D. Clark, and Treasurer Bryn Peterson, as well as governors starting new terms: Francis Adewale, Sunitha Anjilvel, Daniel D. Clark, Jordan Couch, Serena Sayani, and Alec Stephens.
2022 Budget and Keller Deduction. The WSBA’s new fiscal year began Oct. 1, and the Board approved an FY 2022 budget that maintains current programs and services while holding license fees steady for all members. The budget estimates $24,977,787 in revenue and $24,849,315 in expenses, and the Board had a robust conversation about whether and how to use reserve funds in a strategic way to support the operations budget now and in the future. The Board also approved a 2022 Keller deduction schedule of $9.02 for active lawyer members.11 In Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.
Resolution in Memoriam and Thanks. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Board passed a resolution to honor those who lost their lives on that day and to thank WSBA members who subsequently served in Afghanistan as a judge advocate with the U.S. military or in a civilian capacity—as well as the family members and loved ones who supported our Afghani service people.
Amendments to Late Fee Waiver Policy. The Board approved several changes to the WSBA’s policies regarding late payments of license fees, including updates of outdated language. The biggest change is allowing the WSBA to waive late fees based on “extreme financial hardship.”
Proposed Changes to RPC 1.15 (Safeguarding Property). The Legal Foundation of Washington, which distributes IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) funds to legal aid organizations, has recommended an amendment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15A to require that unidentified property in a lawyer’s trust account be remitted to the Legal Foundation of Washington rather than transferred to the Department of Revenue as abandoned property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Based on a request from the Board in October 2020, the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) recently submitted a memorandum with several options as to whether the WSBA should support such an amendment. The Board directed the CPE to draft implementing amendments to RPC 1.15A for the Board’s review in November.
Exploring How to Strengthen the Structure of the WSBA Diversity Committee. Leaders of the Diversity Committee are considering whether to switch to a council model to better fit within current WSBA bylaws and policies, especially as they pertain to promoting a diversity of voices and representation on the Diversity Committee. The committee will continue its exploration and return with a recommendation.
The Board also:
- Approved several proposed amendments22 These amendments are available on page 7 of the Board’s September meeting materials, also found here: http://www.wsba.org/docs/default-source/about-wsba/governance/bog-meeting-materials-2000-2001/board-of-governors-meeting-materials-september-2021.pdf#page=7. recommended by the Court Rules and Procedures Committee, which will now go to the Washington Supreme Court for review. The amendments include: fixes to the Rules of Appellate Procedure to correct errors and update language based on updates to law and other court rules; fixes to the Rules for Appeal of Decisions of Courts of Limited Jurisdiction to correct errors and improve clarity/readability; and fixes to the Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (RALJ) to address outdated and gendered language.
- Had a first reading of proposed changes to the WSBA bylaws, proposed by the Senior Lawyers Section, to allow sections the option of allowing inactive/honorary WSBA members to join a section as a voting member and to serve as a voting member of a section executive committee.
- Approved the Low Bono Section’s request to send a comment to the court in support of proposed GR 40, creating informal domestic relations trials.
- Held its annual discussion with the deans of Washington’s law schools (Dean Mario Barnes, University of Washington; Dean Annette Clark, Seattle University; and Dean Jacob Rooksby, Gonzaga). Great news: Law-school applications are up, and the incoming classes of 1Ls are among the most diverse ever. The Board thanked Dean Clark for her service and partnership, as she has announced her retirement as dean at the end of the year. The group also talked about the future of the bar exam and how to promote rural opportunities among law students.
- Held a discussion with leaders of the Oregon State Bar, with topics including facility ownership/rental, malpractice insurance coverage, and models for member participation.
The agenda, materials, and video recording from this Board of Governors meeting, as well as past meetings, are online here: www.wsba.org/about-wsba/who-we-are/board-of-governors.
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1. In Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.
2. These amendments are available on page 7 of the Board’s September meeting materials, also found here: http://www.wsba.org/docs/default-source/about-wsba/governance/bog-meeting-materials-2000-2001/board-of-governors-meeting-materials-september-2021.pdf#page=7.