On Board > A Summary of the March 2023 Board of Governors Meeting

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

WSBA officers stand in front of the Washington Capitol before their annual meeting with the governor on March 3, 2023. Pictured from left: Treasurer Francis Adewale, Immediate Past President Brian Tollefson, President Dan Clark, and President-Elect Hunter Abell.

MORE ONLINE > 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.

. . .

March 3-4, 2023


Meeting with the Supreme Court. As is the annual tradition, the Board met with the Washington Supreme Court to discuss items of mutual interest, including updates about WSBA financial performance, strategic goals, and the future of the WSBA facilities and office space; activities to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; and the Practice of Law Board’s proposal for data-driven legal regulatory reform. In another annual tradition, the WSBA officers also met with the governor while they were in Olympia.

Budget Retreat. The Board devoted four hours to a discussion about the Fiscal Year 2024 budget process and overall philosophy. The intent was to set broad parameters for collecting potential new items for the upcoming budget and prioritizing budget outcomes. The 2024 license fee has already been set, to remain stable, but the upcoming budget process will include the license fee for 2025 and possibly beyond.

Legal Regulatory Innovation. After presentations from the Utah State Bar and Arizona’s Administrative Office of the Court, as well as materials defining alternative business structures, Washington’s Practice of Law Board (POLB) chair provided more information about its current proposal to seek permission from the Washington Supreme Court to begin drafting rules to authorize data-driven legal regulatory reform here in Washington. The proposal would define processes to collect data to inform the court’s decisions on regulatory reforms, including potential licensure of alternative business structures and nontraditional online legal services, provided data shows that they provide competent services with minimal risk of harm to the public. The court requested comments from the Board. The Board identified many questions and concerns still to be addressed and authorized a letter to the court urging the court and the POLB to move forward to flesh out more details.

Change in Eligibility Requirements for At-Large Board Seats. The Board approved a recommendation from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council to amend the WSBA bylaws to change the eligibility requirements to run for two At-Large seats on the Board of Governors. The change defines candidacy for these seats in a way that better supports the intention in creating the seats—to expressly include in Board leadership people with lived experience in under-represented communities (people who, historically, have been overtly or covertly banned from the profession and leadership). The new definition adds religion and ethnicity; changes gender to gender expression and gender identity; and removes geographic area, types of practice, and years of practice from the eligibility criteria.

Amendments to Rules Regarding Fee-Sharing With Lawyer Referral Services. The Board approved proposed amendments to RPC 1.5(e)(2); 5.4, and 7.3, recommended by the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE), to go to the Washington Supreme Court for consideration. The amendments are intended to clarify when a lawyer may share a portion of a fee with a not-for-profit lawyer referral service. By clarifying the fee-sharing process, the CPE hopes to support access-to-justice efforts, since many lawyer not-for-profit referral services serve underrepresented populations. 

Gathering Input on Amendments to GR 12.2 (WSBA Authorized Activities). The Equity and Disparity (E&D) Work Group was formed by the Board of Governors in 2020 as a response to civil unrest and uprising. The work group is tasked with reviewing the rules, regulations, and laws related to the practice of law and administration of justice and to identify and recommend amendments to any rules that impede actual justice and fairness. The group has identified General Rule 12.2(c) as one such rule, since its focus on the word “political” leads to confusion about the court’s instructions to the WSBA. The proposed amendment would remove the words “political and social issues” and instead refer to the court’s regulatory objectives in GR 12.1. The presentation was for information only, and the work group will seek broad feedback from members before returning a proposed amendment to the Board of Governors for action. 

  • Held a first reading of a proposed policy from the WSBA Task Force Administering Xenial Involvement with Court Appointed Boards (TAXICAB); the goal of the policy and task force is to clarify expectations and roles—including budgeting and staff-time allocation—when the WSBA administers Supreme Court boards.
  • Discussed the executive director’s evaluation in executive session.

Gov. Jay Inslee (left) with WSBA President Dan Clark on March 3, 2023. Every year, the governor meets with the WSBA officers to talk about items of mutual interest, including how to best serve the people of Washington.

SAVE THE DATE > The next regular meeting is May 19-20 in Yakima. To subscribe to the Board Meeting Notification list, email barleaders@wsba.org.