July 21-22, 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 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 launched a study process to evaluate case law, consider what an ideal bar structure looks like, and, perhaps most importantly, to hear from members. The Board held its final meeting in the ETHOS process on Aug. 13, and approved its final recommendation to the Washington Supreme Court. For more information, see page 52 or www.wsba.org/ethos.
Bar Leadership. Congratulations to Governor Francis Adewale, elected by the Board as the WSBA’s treasurer for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Next Year’s Budget. The Board reviewed the first draft of the WSBA’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. License fees for 2023 have already been set and will remain steady (no increase). The final budget is scheduled for approval in September.
Local Hero. Prosecutor Diane Clarkson was honored as a Local Hero (nominated by the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association) for tenacity, compassion, and exceptional leadership in service to others. The Local Hero Award is bestowed by the WSBA president to recognize colleagues who make noteworthy contributions to their communities.
Amendment to Board Policy Based on MBA Request for Action. In April, the Board received a proposal signed by 11 minority bar associations (MBAs) that proposed several actions for the Board to take “to continue our dialogue and encourage the [Board of] Governors in its progress and efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community.” In response, the Board in May formed a task force to continue to work with the MBAs to come up with recommended action items from the proposal. After robust analysis and discussion, the task force returned with a recommendation for the Board to require an equity analysis—in addition to a fiscal and legal analysis—as part of every request for action. The Board approved the equity analysis. Additional recommendations are anticipated for consideration at the September meeting of the Board of Governors.
Support for Hybrid In-Person/Virtual Court System. The Board in June 2020 created the Equity and Disparity Work Group “to reckon with the harsh reality that laws, policies, and procedures in place in the legal system have historically led to disparate and inequitable results that disproportionately harm people of color.” A subgroup of that work group returned with a report about one of its priority areas: advocacy for continued remote court procedures, post-pandemic, to decrease disparity and expand access to civil and criminal legal services. The subgroup brought its proposal to the Board of Judicial Administration (BJA), and the BJA agreed to take up the issue (continued hybrid court access) as a strategic initiative.
WSBA Volunteer Vaccination Policy. The Board discussed whether it was time to change its policy mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all in-person WSBA volunteer work. The governors ultimately retained the policy and decided to invite, in the near future, a state health expert to come answer questions about best COVID-19 safety practices for organizations.
MCLE Credit for Law Clerk Tutors. The Board approved the recommendation from the MCLE Board to amend Admissions and Practice Rules to establish MCLE credit for tutors in the APR 6 Law Clerk Program. If the Supreme Court approves the rule change, tutors will be able to claim teaching credit under AP11(e)(6). The Board hopes the MCLE credit will encourage lawyers to serve as tutors and expand the Law Clerk program.
The Board also:
- Approved moving forward with an election for a District 8 governor, given the current governor has been elected to an at-large position and will resign the District 8 seat in September. Notification of the vacancy will soon be sent to all eligible members.
- Approved the Council on Public Defense recommendation to revise the Public Defense Workloads statement, which is intended to help public defenders express to funding authorities their concerns (and potential solutions) about workloads exceeding capacity due to the pandemic.
- Approved the Construction Law Section’s request to post amended and new model residential construction contracts on its webpage for public use.
- Approved a policy amendment to extend the number of terms Law Clerk Board members may serve to three consecutive 3-year terms.
- Approved a proposal to transition the WSBA Diversity Committee to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council. Among other things, the new DEI Council Charter broadens the scope of membership eligibility to include not only active WSBA members and Board members, but also judicial status members, pro bono status members, law school students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the public.
- Approved a WSBA Bylaw amendment to allow the Board Legislative Committee to approve comments from a WSBA entity 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.
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MORE ONLINE > The agenda, materials, and video recording from this Board of Governors meeting (held in Tacoma and virtually), as well as past meetings, are online here: www.wsba.org/about-wsba/who-we-are/board-of-governors.