Nov. 4-5, 2021
The WSBA Board of Governors determines the Bar’s general policies and approves its annual budget.
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TOP MEETING TAKEAWAYS
Bar structure. In light of federal litigation regarding integrated bars, the Washington Supreme Court has asked the Board of Governors to develop a process to analyze and make a recommendation about the WSBA’s structure; the Board made a commitment to develop this process during a special meeting that will be held sometime before Dec. 22. Most importantly, the Board stated its commitment to transparency and opportunities for robust member engagement.
Proposed changes to RPC 1.15 (Safeguarding Property). The Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW), which distributes IOLTA funds to legal aid organizations, has recommended a change to the Rules of Professional Conduct so that unidentified property in a lawyer’s trust account is required to be remitted to the LFW rather than (as the rules currently provide) being transferred to the Department of Revenue as abandoned property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. At the request of the Board, the Committee on Professional Ethics finalized and presented draft amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15A and 1.15B to implement such a change. The Board voted to support the recommended amendments (as well as a companion amendment to the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct suggested by the WSBA’s chief disciplinary counsel), which the LFW will now submit to the Washington Supreme Court for consideration.
2022 legislative priorities and WSBA-sponsored bills. Planning for the coming legislative session, the Board approved the WSBA’s overall priorities: Monitoring and taking appropriate action on legislative proposals related to the practice of law and administration of justice; supporting legislative proposals approved by the Board under GR 12 constraints; and supporting legislative proposals initiated by WSBA Sections and approved by the Board. Per the last priority, the Board approved two bills put forth by the Business Law Section: Proposed changes to the Washington Business Corporation Act related to record dates and mergers and share exchanges; and proposed revisions to the Washington Limited Liability Company Act regarding logistics and definitions.
Bylaw changes proposed by the Senior Lawyers Section. After much discussion, the Board amended the WSBA bylaws to allow each section the option of permitting inactive/honorary members to join a section as a voting member and to serve as a voting member of a section executive committee.
The Board also:
- Participated in annual anti-harassment and email security training.
- Passed a Board and Officers Roles and Responsibilities document to clarify WSBA governance. (See page 272 of the November 2021 meeting materials.)
- Supported the Council on Public Defense’s state budget request and its comments regarding the newly proposed GR 41 and amendments to CR 39. (See page 357 of the November 2021 meeting materials.)
- Received the Annual Report of the Washington State Bar Foundation. Highlights from 2021 include continuing the Powerful Communities Project, enhancing the Moderate Means Program to support families impacted by COVID-19, and administering funds for a WSBA Elder Law Section law student internship with Northwest Justice Project.
- Heard a report from the MCLE Board, including a recap of its work and plans for implementing the new ethics requirement it successfully recommended to the Supreme Court last year.
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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