Minnesota

State Bar

Association

 

Council

The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. on Friday, February 15, 2013.  The meeting was chaired by Robert Enger, President, and recorded by Joni Fenner.

 

Members Present:

Robert Enger, President

Phil Duran, President-Elect

Richard Kyle, Treasurer

Michael Unger, Secretary

Anne Johnson, MWL Representative

Eric Larson, Assembly Representative (joined at 4:00)

Thad Lightfoot, Assembly Representative

Chris Morris, HCBA Representative (via telephone)

Irene Kao, Minority Bar Representative

Sam Edmunds, NLS Representative

Jessie Nicholson, Assembly Representative

Pat Trask, Outstate Representative

Mary Ward, RCBA Representative

 

Others Present:

Joni Fenner, Assistant to the Executive Director

Nancy Mischel, Associate Executive Director

David Ahlvers (Item 3.04)

Ellie Krug (Item 3.04)

 

1.02  Approval of minutes of the December 8 retreat and December 14 meeting

A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes as presented.  The motion carried.

 

1.03  Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Kyle summarized the financial information that was distributed prior to the meeting.

 

1.04  President’s Report

Mr. Enger reported on two items.  The Minority Bar Summit meeting that occurred earlier in the day had a good turnout and interesting reports on the diversity efforts that are ongoing throughout Minnesota.  The RCBA, HCBA and MSBA have come together to oppose the proposed sales tax on legal services.  The three organizations invited representatives of the top 100 firms to a meeting to discuss the issue and ask them to join a three-prong effort:

1.     additional lobbying time from lobbyists of the firms;

2.     home addresses for individual lawyers to assist with our grassroots efforts; and

3.     financial support to help cover the cost of a PR firm.

 

Mr. Enger asked Mr. Kyle to report on the recent National Conference of Bar Presidents meeting.  Mr. Kyle reported that the keynote speaker was one of the authors of Race for Relevance.  Following her presentation Ms. Mischel, Mr. Duran, Ms. Zindren and Mr. Kyle met with her for an hour and discussed issues. 

 

2.      Assembly Committee Reports

Elections/Appointments – It was reported that the Committee will meet in late March to select recommended candidates for positions on the Client Security Board, State Board of CLE, Legal Services Advisory Committee, Central Minnesota Legal Services Board, and ABA delegates.

 

General Policy – Ms. Mischel noted that the Committee will meet March 13 and anticipates having three proposals to discuss; two lapsed policies regarding the rule of law and civil liberties; as well as proposed changes to Criminal Law Certification.

 

Governance – No report.

 

Judiciary – Mr. Unger reported that the Committee is waiting for the comment period on judicial elections to conclude at the end of the month.  At that time, the Judiciary and Legislative Committees will each review comments and develop recommendations.  The Committee planned to review jury selection issues, but is now awaiting possible legislative action.  At this time, a question regarding judicial pay has fallen off the agenda, but there may be a subcommittee formed to look at the judicial retirement age.

 

Legislative – The Committee met in mid-January anticipating testimony on judicial elections, but there was limited participation.  The Committee will review written comments and begin forming a recommendation in April.  Representative Simon agreed to carry the CIJ judicial elections bill in the House and Senator Rest will sponsor the Senate bill.  At this time there is no projected date for introduction of the bills.

 

Mr. Lightfoot reported that all three section priority bills have cleared Senate committees and are awaiting floor action.  Two of the bills are also awaiting House floor action.  The postmark rule from the Tax Law Section is working its way through the House committee process. 

 

3.      Action/Report Calendar

3.01  Review of the Governance Committee’s recommendation on an Assembly Conflict of Interest Policy

Mr. Unger summarized the genesis of the development of the proposed policy and its potential impact.  Members discussed potential areas of concern.  It was noted that the policy is flexible and it covers the Association and members need to self-report potential conflicts.  A motion was made and seconded to recommend that the Assembly adopt the policy.  The motion carried.

 

3.02  Action on the recommendation of the Executive Director for authorization to retain a broker for the purposes of advising the MSBA on its lease renewal

Ms. Mischel summarized the MSBA’s current lease and the proposal to retain a broker to assist in the renewal process.  In response to a question, she noted that brokers are generally paid a commission of $1.00 per square foot of space for each year of the lease term.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the request.  The motion carried.

 

3.03  Action on the resolution recommending the Assembly reaffirm its previously established positions regarding same sex marriage

Mr. Duran summarized the proposal noting that it is a procedural effort to include an established position within the Association’s policy process.  A motion was made and seconded to recommend approval by the Assembly.  The motion carried.

 

3.04  Discussion of the recommendation to add an MSBA staff diversity director 

Mr. Ahlvers discussed the history behind the report and highlighted the Committee’s recommendation that there be a full-time director and .6 FTE manager dedicated to the Association’s diversity efforts.  Ms. Krug discussed why the change is important; the need to have someone coordinating the efforts of various organizations; and the need for greater education statewide so all members feel safe.  The Committee believes the MSBA is on record supporting diversity and on record as wanting to be a leader in diversity.  The Committee does not think that can be done with volunteers. 

 

Mr. Ahlvers and Ms. Krug were asked how the success of this position would be measured.  They acknowledged that would be challenging, but goals can be established for CLEs and the Minority Clerkship Program.  A variety of goals would need to be set – two-year, five-year and ten-year goals.  These could include a greater number of attorneys from diverse backgrounds practicing in geographic areas where they haven’t in the past and a greater number of diverse members of the MSBA.

 

Members discussed the pros and cons of the report and where this would fit within the priorities of the Association.  Members of the Focus Task Force noted that this has not a focus area for them.  In response to a question regarding the impact on the budget, it was noted that the cost would be approximately $100,000.  Members agreed that a key factor if this proposal is to go forward, would be the establishment of measurable goals and tangible benefits.  It is important that it be a part of the upcoming budget process and the establishment of priorities of the Association.  The staff was asked to develop a survey to be completed by Council members to determine what the top priorities are.

 

A motion was made and seconded directing the Executive Director to provide more details on providing support to the minority bar associations; and asking the staff to develop one or more budget scenarios that includes greater resources dedicated to diversity and report back at the March meeting of the Council.  The motion carried. 

 

3.05  Discuss potential 2013-14 Strategic Initiatives

This item was tabled to March.

 

3.06  Report from the Council Focus Task Force

Mr. Kyle discussed the meetings of the Task Force noting that they are developing a process to set the focus of the Association.

 

3.07  Discussion of Policy 10 related to the relationship between MSBA sections/committees, districts, and Minnesota CLE

Mr. Duran mentioned that the recent decision to remove funding for civic education programs from the MSBA budget was rationalized because it was not serving our target audience.  That has changed with the emergence of the Amicus Society.  In the past, the MSBA had a 501(c)3 that could raise money to support civic ed efforts but it was discontinued some time ago.  However, we have an opportunity to reorganize MVAP (MN Volunteer Attorney Program), the MSBA’s existing 501(c)3, to support future efforts with AMICUS and civic education because MVAP’s current functions are being turned over to other groups. 

 

If the idea of reorganizing MVAP came to fruition, money to fund AMICUS efforts is still needed.  Mr. Duran has developed a plan to approach Minnesota CLE and ask them to support this effort.  At this time, the MCLE has reserves significantly higher than recommended and may be in a position to provide funding.  Mr. Duran requested the Council’s support of this plan and that they keep it confidential until the meeting with Minnesota CLE has taken place.  The Council agreed on both points.

 

4.      Consent Calendar

4.01  Adoption of the Council Statement of Accountability

4.02  Report on 2012-13 Strategic Initiatives

4.03  Action on the proposed amendments to the Council Process for Amendments to Section Bylaws

4.04  Action on the budget for 2013 Day 9 as recommended by the Day 9 Planning Committee

4.05  Action on the staff recommendation regarding a location for 2014 Day 9

4.06  Action on the request of the Diversity Committee to use $1,000 of the remaining funds from mnlegaldiversity.org website budget to add a speakers bureau function to the website

Funding for mnlegaldiversity.org came from a fundraising campaign that raised more than $40,000 in 2003-04.  Since the launch of the website in 2004, funds have been used exclusively for the creation, maintenance and promotion of the site, including photography, design, and web hosting. The website was overhauled and relaunched in 2009.  Slightly more than $3,000 remains from the original $40,000.  The Diversity Committee seeks authority to have the website designer add a speakers bureau function to the site, at a cost of approximately $1,000. 

 

A motion was made and seconded to approve the Consent Calendar.  The motion carried.

 

5.      Executive Director’s Report

Ms. Mischel noted that we are approaching the end of the Aptify project and it appears that we may be $15-20,000 over budget.  This additional cost would cover training for staff from Aptify.  Definite information should be available by the end of the month.  She indicated that “go Live” may be delayed by one week.

 

6.      Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 5:20 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Michael W. Unger

Secretary