On Board > A Summary of the September 2022 Board of Governors Meeting

Sept. 22-23, 2022

The WSBA Board of Governors determines the Bar’s general policies and approves its annual budget.

. . .


Bar Structure. The Board approved the final report to conclude its seven-month study of the WSBA’s structure, assessing whether the structure must change due to pending case law or should change to best meet the Bar’s mission. The report reflects the Board’s recommendation to keep the structure status quo as an integrated bar; it went to the Washington Supreme Court in November. Read the full report—which includes a minority report as an addendum—here: www.wsba.org/ethos.    

Bar Leaders and Superstars. The WSBA transitioned bar leadership to enter the new fiscal year in October: Welcome President Daniel D. Clark, President-Elect Hunter Abell, Immediate-Past President Brian Tollefson, and Treasurer Francis Adewale. The Board also honored and thanked outgoing WSBA officers and governors for their dedicated service, and Chief Justice Steven González swore in the incoming WSBA Governors. The entire legal community also honored the WSBA’s 2022 APEX Winners (profiled in the October issue of Bar News).

WSBA Finances. In preparation for the coming fiscal year, the Board approved:

  • The recommended license fees for 2024, which went to the Washington Supreme Court for review; for all license types, no increase in fees from 2023 is recommended, with a recommended $5 reduction in the Client Protection Fund assessment.
  • The fiscal year 2023 budget. As license fees will remain unchanged for the coming year, the forecast for revenue remains almost unchanged; that, in combination with the rising market costs of labor, benefits, and other supplies/utilities, means the FY 23 budget has a planned spenddown of available unrestricted reserves of about $500,000. Note: Current reserves total more than $7 million, with $3 million designated by fiscal policy for operating and facilities reserves.
  • The 2023 Keller deduction, set at $6.90. This is the amount members can choose to deduct from their annual license fee in 2023; for more information about the deduction, visit www.wsba.org/docs/default-source/licensing/keller-deduction-overview.pdf?sfvrsn=9f3538f1_27.
  • Revisions to the WSBA Fiscal Policies, which include modifying the authority of the executive director and Budget and Audit Committee for unbudgeted expenditures; clarification about salary-setting authority; increasing the minimum balance of the operating reserve fund; and incorporating a new standard into volunteer reimbursement requests.
  • Proposed Change to the Review Process for Rule Changes. The Board agreed to co-sponsor—along with the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association (DMCJA) and Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA)—suggested changes to General Rule 9(f)(2) that seek to ensure stakeholders have an opportunity to review and suggest edits before rules are published for comment, as well as to make the process more transparent. Among other innovations, the suggested amendment would modify the composition of the Supreme Court Rules Committee, codified in GR 9, with representation from DMCJA, SCJA, the Washington Court of Appeals, and the WSBA, alongside four Washington Supreme Court justices. The suggested amendment to GR 12 went to the Supreme Court for consideration and possible publication for comment.

WSBA Volunteer Vaccination Policy. The Board heard from an expert from Seattle/King County Public Health about the current state of the pandemic, efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and best practices for preventing transmission. The Board will consider whether to make changes to its current vaccination policy for volunteers at its November meeting.

Amendments to Rules to Reflect Current Technology and Legal Licenses. The Board approved suggested rule amendments, proposed by the WSBA Regulatory Services Department, to go to the Washington Supreme Court for approval. The changes would be to certain Admission and Practice Rules (APR), General Rules (GR), and Limited Practice Officer Rules of Professional Conduct (LPORPC); they would bring these rules up to date with recent technology implementations and legal education degrees and fix simple oversights in previous amendments. The changes include allowing judicial members on the Board of Bar Examiners and Law Clerk Board, clarifying that a law degree is required for Common Law lawyer qualification to the bar exam, and permitting LL.M. graduates who qualify for the bar exam and APR 6 law clerks at the conclusion of their education to be licensed legal interns.

Other business

The Board also:

  • Held a CLE about steps the WSBA and bar leaders can take to overcome the roots of systemic racism, with the intent of becoming a more welcoming profession; the presenters were King County Superior Court Judge David Keenan and Commissioner Jonathon Lack.
  • Held its annual conversation with the deans of Washington’s three law schools about the state of legal education, trends in bar licensure and admissions, and the future of the profession. This year, the Board was happy to reconnect with Dean Jacob H. Rooksby of Gonzaga Law School and to welcome Tamara F. Lawson as new dean of the University of Washington School of Law and Anthony E. Varona as new dean of Seattle University School of Law.
  • Approved the Washington State Bar Foundation’s 2022-23 Board of Trustees roster.
  • Heard an update about the rental market in downtown Seattle from the brokers helping the WSBA attempt to sublease some of its current office space.
  • Discussed the performance-review process for the WSBA executive director.
  • Heard from the WSBA ABA delegates about the ABA Annual Meeting held in August in Chicago.
  • Declined to support amendments to APR 28, proposed by the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Board, that would update the rules to reflect the Washington Supreme Court’s decision to sunset the LLLT license and to reflect changes in Washington laws. The LLLT Board will now decide whether and in what form to send the proposed amendments to the Supreme Court for consideration.

SAVE THE DATE > The next regular meeting is Jan. 13-14 in Bellevue. To subscribe to the Board Meeting Notification list, email barleaders@wsba.org.

MORE ONLINE > The agenda, materials, and video recording from this Board of Governors meeting (held in Bellevue and virtually), as well as past meetings, are online here: www.wsba.org/about-wsba/who-we-are/board-of-governors.