May 19-20, 2022
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. The Washington Supreme Court has asked the Board to make a recommendation about whether the WSBA must change structure (considering federal litigation about the integrated-bar structure) or should change structure (to best achieve its mission). In response, the Board has launched a study process to evaluate case law, to consider what an ideal bar structure looks like, and, perhaps most importantly, to hear from members.
Bar Leadership. Congratulations to Hunter Abell (current at-large governor), selected by the Board as incoming president-elect (to be president in 2023-24).
Bar Finances. The Board approved the annual budget reforecast, which is the process, halfway through the fiscal year, of reconciling actual revenues and expenditures with original assumptions and making course corrections as needed. Good news: The reforecast predicts that, because of careful stewardship, the WSBA general fund and CLE fund will each end the fiscal year more than $300,000 ahead of original projections.
Local Hero. Lisa Malpass was honored as a Local Hero (nominated by the Spokane County Bar Association) for her tireless efforts in the area of guardianship—including formation of and support for two initiatives, the Guardian ad Litem Committee and the Elder Disability Estate Planning Section of the Spokane County Bar Association—that have had an enormous impact on local and state policies. The Local Hero Award is bestowed by the WSBA president to recognize colleagues who have made noteworthy contributions to their communities.
Leadership through a diversity lens. Minority bar association leaders have jointly proposed four actions for the Board to implement to show a genuine commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and to ensure Board members account for the impact of their decisions on the entire legal community. The proposal calls for action in four areas:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion tools for decision-making (required considerations and analysis to be done as part of all decision-making);
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion competency for candidates and governors (mandatory training and a baseline of knowledge/understanding);
- Restorative protocol for Board conduct (a binding code of conduct with censures for those who break it); and
- Engagement of the minority bar associations (continued partnership and dialogue).
The Board ultimately created a task force to consider the proposal and develop action items by the Board’s September meeting.
Race equity and justice reform in the Spokane regional legal system. Leaders in the Spokane community have been working to understand and eradicate systemic racism in the legal system. Representatives from the Spokane County Bar Association’s Task Force on Systemic Racism in Our Regional Justice System, the Freedom Project East, and the Health and Justice Recovery Alliance spoke about their efforts to address structural racism that unevenly distributes power, benefits, burdens, and violence, and that results in racialized outcomes that negatively impact a community.
The Board also:
- Heard an update from the WSBA Court Rules and Procedures Committee regarding potential solutions to address USPS mail delays that affect compliance with deadlines in Court Rules. This is a complex issue that will take more than a single rule change to address. The Board will continue to consider whether/how to proceed.
- Held separate receptions with the Washington State Bar Foundation (which helps fund WSBA programs that provide legal assistance to the state’s most vulnerable populations) and the Washington Leadership Institute (a WSBA/UW partnership to recruit, train, and develop traditionally underrepresented attorneys for future leadership positions in the WSBA and the greater legal community). Both receptions featured powerfully justice-oriented lawyers making a difference in their communities.
- Heard a first reading of a proposal to transition/reshape the WSBA Diversity Committee to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council. The change would align the entity’s practice of including non-Board voting members with the WSBA Bylaws.
- Selected a vendor for the annual evaluation of the executive director, which will provide a professional model for years to come.
- Considered an amendment to the WSBA Bylaws to allow the Board Legislative Committee to approve WSBA entities’ comments to the Supreme Court regarding proposed rule changes, if the full Board of Governors does not have a regularly scheduled meeting before the comments are due. The Board will vote on the amendment at its next meeting.
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