Board Minutes

Board Minutes - February 22, 2013


February 22, 2013
Kansas City President Hotel

Members present:
Patrick B. Starke, President
P. John Brady, President-Elect
Reuben Shelton, Vice-President
Lynn Ann Vogel, Immediate Past President
Sebrina A. Barrett, Secretary

Bevy A. Beimdiek
Thomas V. Bender
Erik Bergmanis
Suzanne B. Bradley
Robert J. Buckley
Nimrod T. Chapel, Jr.
Mark W. Comley
Hon. Charles Curless
Dana Tippin Cutler
Joel R. Elmer
Michael E. Gardner
Wendy Garrison
James H. Guest
J. B. Lasater
Gregg F. Lombardi
Neil F. Maune, Jr.
Mira Mdivani
Max E. Mitchell
Nancy R. Mogab
Douglass F. Noland
Joseph P. Rice, III
Tricia M. Scaglia
Walter R. Simpson
W. Douglas Thomson

Raymond E. Williams
Eric J. Wulff

Attending by telephone:
Nicole Colbert-Botchway
Brian Francka
Genevieve M. Frank
John W. Grimm
John R. Gunn
Edward J. Hershewe
Robert S. Kenney
Hon. John F. Kintz
Mark H. Levison
Hon. Mark H. Neill
Brett W. Roubal
Antwaun L. Smith
Wallace Squibb
Joan M. Swartz
Lynn Ann Vogel

Members absent:
Hon. Richard Bresnahan

Also attending:
Robert Stoeckl
Catherine Barrie
Eric Wilson
Chris Janku
Kent Hopper
Anne Chambers

1. Minutes:

It was moved and seconded that the minutes from the Board of Governors meeting of November 16 and the minutes of the Executive Committee meetings held on November 16, December 11, January 18, and January 31 be approved. The motion was approved.

2. Finances:

A. Finance Report

Mr. Erik Bergmanis reported that the finances of The Missouri Bar are in good shape as we begin a new year. Revenue at the beginning of the year is tracking as expected, consisting mainly of member enrollment fees. He reported that the 2012 year-end financial status came in approximately $1 million better than expected with end-of-year disbursements approximately $500,000 less than expected and final year revenues about $500,000 better than anticipated. He noted that disbursement savings were broadly distributed including: YLS expenses, board expenses, and general office expenses. He further reported that pro hac vice revenue was higher than expected and CLE Publications reversed an anticipated $75,000 shortfall. Mr. Bergmanis also noted that the e-commerce system was implemented in December and is operational.

He pointed out that the budget approved for 2013 is lower than the 2012 budget, explaining that the 2012 budget included additional expenses related to transitions of retiring staff members. It was moved and seconded that the financial report be approved. The motion was approved.

B. Transfer of Signature Authority

Ms. Sebrina Barrett reported that Dan Lehman, Director of Administration, is expected to retire at the end of March and that Kent Hopper will assume the responsibilities of administration and human resources. She reported that these personnel changes require the transfer of signature authority. It was moved and seconded to authorize transfer of signature authority for The Missouri Bar from Daniel Lehman to Kent R. Hopper. The motion was approved.

3. February Appointments

There were no February appointments.

4. May Appointments

A. Fee Dispute Resolution Committee

Mr. Pat Starke informed the Board that Mary Lou Martin’s term on the Fee Dispute Resolution Committee will expire in May and that Ms. Martin is eligible for reappointment. He noted that this action will be taken at the May meeting.

5. Officers’ Reports:

A. President’s Report

(1) Task Force on Criminal Justice

Mr. Starke reviewed developments related to the Missouri State Public Defender caseload issue, noting that courts have taken action to appoint lawyers in central Missouri and also Jefferson County. He noted that the committee appointed within the Board and chaired by Judge Charles Curless is proceeding in its work to address the issues outlined at the November Board of Governors meeting and he noted this group has decided that it would be beneficial to add some perspective from outside of the Board as part of their efforts.

Mr. Starke also noted that legislation has been introduced which would radically change the way Missouri would provide for the defense of indigent citizens in criminal cases, shifting caseloads away from the MSPD system to private attorneys. He reported that efforts continue to foster cooperation resulting in a compromise to address the caseload issues.

(2) Amicus Lex

Mr. Starke briefly reviewed initial efforts and long-term expectations for the Amicus Lex program. He thanked the members of the Board who have made contact with their assigned legislators. He also assured those who have not yet made contact with their designated legislators that it is not too late to do so. Several members of the board reported on meetings with their designated legislator(s), noting that reactions have been very positive. Messrs. Tom Bender and Ray Williams reported as did Ms. Suzanne Bradley.

(3) Miscellaneous

Mr. Starke also reported on issues raised by lawyers in the St. Louis area related to their participation on Missouri’s Judicial Performance Evaluation (JPE) committees. Mr. Starke reported that he has asked a panel of leaders to consider these issues and recommendations for any changes. He reported that he has asked the following leaders to assist: Hon. Ann Covington, Hon. Michael A. Wolff, Hon. Wm. Ray Price, Jr., Hon. Ronnie White and Eric Wulff.

B. President-Elect’s Report

Mr. Jack Brady reported on his plans to focus on issues related to aging lawyers and new lawyers in the profession. He noted that the aging of the baby boomer generation is raising issues related to lawyers transitioning into retirement and preparing for potential interruptions or the closing of their practice because of incapacitation or death. These issues are in focus nationwide, and he reported that he intends to establish a committee to look into these issues in Missouri. He further reported that this initiative also focus on the opposite end of the “aging in the profession” phenomenon, exploring difficulties facing new and young lawyers transitioning into practice. He noted the problems facing new lawyers range from the lack of jobs to an increase in malpractice claims against this segment of the profession.

Mr. Brady also reported that he will be focusing on improving The Missouri Bar website. He noted that the website is excellent for lawyers, but could be improved as a resource for citizens and the general public. He noted that increasing the use of multi-media components would be one way of making the website more attractive and responsive to the needs of the general public. He further noted that shifting the focus to better communicate with the general public would support and enhance citizenship education efforts and public education in vital areas such as the importance of the non-partisan court system.

He also reported that he is interested in increasing the involvement of the large law firms in The Missouri Bar, in reviewing insurance coverage for The Missouri Bar, and in working with Reuben Shelton and Bob Stoeckl to change the format of the Awards Banquet at the Annual Meeting.

C. Vice-President’s Report

Mr. Reuben Shelton reported that he is primarily focused on providing support for the initiatives of the President and President-Elect. He reported that he has been attending as many meetings and events as possible and is quite involved as liaison with a very active Legislative Committee. He reported that he has attended the recent State of the Judiciary address and luncheon, attended the legislative dinner in Kansas City, joined President Starke at a meeting of the Mound City Bar Association, and attended the National Conference of Bar Presidents (NCBP). He noted the value of meeting with leaders from bars across the country at NCBP as a way to gain perspective about what other bars are doing and as a way to compare the programs and activities of The Missouri Bar in relation to the other bars. He further reported that he is planning to have lunch or otherwise meet with every past president of The Missouri Bar as he progresses through the ranks of leadership, noting the value of tapping into the wisdom of that group of leaders.

Mr. Shelton reminded the board that Legislative Day is scheduled for April 3 and noted that the legislative advocacy effort will begin with a dinner on April 2. He reported that the North Carolina and Oklahoma Bar Associations have outstanding “Legislative Day” programs and that he may visit those bars to get additional ideas to improve our efforts. He concluded noting that he and Bob Stoeckl met prior to this meeting to discuss ideas for make changes to the Awards Banquet at the Annual Meeting.

D. Executive Director’s Report

(1) Ms. Sebrina Barrett reported on that she recently attended the National
Association of Bar Executives (NABE) meeting and shared some trends and developments reported by other bar associations from across the country. These included the following:

- The Supreme Court of Washington has established a rule allowing non-lawyers to assist in the handling of some civil cases, especially family law matters. The newly licensed individuals are called Limited License Technicians.

- Washington and California Bars have encountered bar de-unification efforts and both bars noted that their commitment as a resource to the public, as well as to lawyers, proved to be a key factor in their favor during these efforts.

- The Illinois Bar Association has decided to offer free online CLE. However, the free CLE offered is enough to fulfill the annual CLE requirement.

- A number of states are encountering similar attacks on their non-partisan court selection systems.

(2) Building Addition

Ms. Barrett reported that work is well under way for the addition of the third floor to The Missouri Bar Center, showing photos of the construction progress. She noted that construction is currently focused on getting the roof in place to protect against inclement weather. She further reported that a significant portion of the construction should be completed when board members travel to Jefferson City for “Legislative Day” in April.

(3) Carol Chazen Friedman Scholarship

Ms. Barrett reported that the Board is once again funding a Carol Chazen Friedman Scholarship to the Solo and Small Firm Conference. She noted that a number of board members have already sent their donation to fund this scholarship.

(4) Miscellaneous Materials in Meeting Packet

Ms. Barrett called attention to a variety of materials included in the meeting packet including:

● A list of vacancies for the 2013-14 Board of Governors elections
● A nominating petition to file for board elections
● Information on the Complaint Resolution Committee and the Fee Dispute Resolution Committee

6. Legislation:

Ms. Catherine Barrie reported that two bar-drafted measures are currently making their way through both the House and Senate. She reported that the House version of the criminal code (HB 210) has had two hearings in the House. The bill sponsor Rep. Stanley Cox decided to conduct multiple hearings on related chapters as a way to more clearly present and understand the proposed changes. She noted that the Senate version (SB 253) of the bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate and is awaiting a hearing.

Ms. Barrie also reported that a Probate & Trust Committee drafted bill (SB 100) clarifying that a health savings plan, or similar plan, including inherited account or plan are exempt from creditor claims has been perfected in the Senate. She also noted that the Commercial Law Committee made a late objection to the bill that was not substantive, but instead focused on the Committee’s contention that they did not have an opportunity to review and comment on the measure. Ms. Barrie reported that the Executive Committee concluded that it would be unfair to stop the progress of this measure at this point, especially since the measure had been sent to the chairs of all bar committees well in advance of board approval.

She further reported that Sen. Brad Lager has introduced a bill (SB 351) that would disqualify a supreme, appellate or circuit court judge from hearing or deciding a case when an attorney or a party to the case has served on a judicial commission that nominated the judge or if a party’s attorney is currently employed by a firm who also employs a person who served on a judicial commission who nominated the judge. No other legislative activity relating to the Non-Partisan Court Plan was reported.
Ms. Barrie concluded with a review of actions previously reported to the Board via the listserve. She reported the Executive Committee has reviewed 65 bills. Thirty-two position statements were sent and 20 additional statements will be finalized and sent next week.

7. Committee Reports:

A. Client Security Fund Committee

Mr. Chris Janku reported that the Client Security Fund Committee met on February 7 to discuss deferred claims held over from 2012 and newly received claims for $2,500 or less. The Committee recommended the payment of five deferred claims and the denial of one deferred claim. The Committee deferred action on 12 claims held over from 2012 and requests authority to submit recommendations on those claims at a future meeting of the Board of Governors. The Committee recommended payment of 12 newly received claims for a total of $14,650 and the denial of two new claims, noting that all newly received claims recommended for payment are for $2,500 or less. Mr. Janku also reported that the Committee recommended the approval of a payment of $250 on Wylie v. Williams, a claim which had been approved for denial by the Board, based on the Committee’s prior recommendation. He reported the total recommended for payment in 2013 is $31,749.01, which is below the $112,500 limit established by Article 2.10. He reported that the balance of the fund exceeds $370,000 which includes the balance left over from 2012 and the new appropriation for 2013. It was moved and seconded to approve the recommendations of the Client Security Fund as submitted. The motion was approved.

Mr. Janku also reported that the Client Security Fund Committee at its February 7 meeting requested that the Board of Governors amend the Regulations and Rules of Procedure to permit payment of claims involving a fraudulent or dishonest act which occurs within a brief period after an attorney has been disbarred or suspended. He noted that the proposed language is based upon Rule 1.B(6) of the ABA Model Rules for Lawyers’ Funds for Client Protection. It was moved and seconded to approve the proposed amendment of the Regulations and Rules of Procedure of the Client Security Fund as recommended. The motion was approved. Mr. Eric Wulff voted no.

Mr. Janku reported that the Client Security Fund Committee sought information and legal advice regarding the process of bringing a lawsuit to obtain a judgment and recover monies from attorneys against whom claims have been paid from the Client Security Fund. Based upon this information, the committee voted to endorse the concept of pursuing the recovery of money when greater than $2,000 had been paid on claims involving that attorney. He reported that the committee will present the Board of Governors with specific recommendations to implement such a policy at a future meeting.

B. Military Law Committee/Pro Bono Legal Assistance

Mr. James Guest reported on an initiative that would assist members of the military and veterans with legal issues, citing a growing need in Missouri. As the liaison to the Military Law Committee, Mr. Guest is working with the committee chair Tom Rynard. Mr. Guest reported that his objective following the November board meeting was to survey other states with similar programs. He reported that Texas and Oklahoma have active and successful programs. He explained that the Texas program is based on a “clinic in a box” concept, in which the state bar recruits the local and specialty bars to operate clinics where active duty and veterans are provided with information and education about proceeding on a pro se basis, as well as information on legal assistance resources available within their communities. The state bar provides the local and specialty bars with a box filled with everything needed to conduct the clinic. He reported that there is no guarantee of representation under the “clinic in a box” model.

Mr. Guest reported that the Oklahoma Bar’s program goes further. Active duty military and veterans attend the “clinic in a box” presentation. However, lawyers staffing the clinic have attendees complete a questionnaire related to their legal problem and the questionnaire is forwarded to the Bar, which employs a staff person whose responsibility it is to match that person with legal representation. Volunteer lawyers are recruited for this purpose.

In addition, Mr. Guest reported that the ABA has its own program where lawyers sign up to provide representation and active duty military and veterans are matched with a pro bono lawyer.

Mr. Guest noted that either model requires resources and buy-in from local and specialty bars. And he noted that there are a number of practical considerations that would need to be addressed including (1) who the program would serve (e.g. active duty, veterans, National Guard, etc.), (2) income level restrictions, (3) types of cases handled, (4) referral vs. resource focus, and (5) support for lawyers (e.g. insurance, forms, case support, etc.). Mr. Lombardi reported that Legal Aid of Western Missouri would be interested in participating in such a program and would be able to satisfy some infrastructure needs such as insurance coverage for lawyers and support with resources and other assistance.

C. Board Liaison Reports

The following Board of Governors members provided a brief report on the activities of the committees to which they serve as liaisons:

(1) Bevy Beimdiek – Gender & Justice Committee
(2) Thomas V. Bender – Business Law Committee
(3) Erik Bergmanis – Education Law Committee, Travel Committee
(4) Robert J. Buckley – Health & Hospital Law Committee
(5) Mark W. Comley – Insurance Programs Committee, Labor &
Employment Law Committee
(6) Brett W. Roubal - Probate & Trust Law Committee
(7) Reuben A. Shelton – Legislative Committee
(8) Joan M. Swartz – Commercial Law Committee

8. Public Service Announcements:

Ms. Sebrina Barrett reported that the 2013 institutional ads are now available for viewing on The Missouri Bar website.

9. Future Planning:

Members of the Board divided into four groups to discuss issues related to future planning in following areas: pro bono, Amicus Lex, governance, and senior lawyer/new lawyer transitions. Each group met for approximately 30 minutes.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Sebrina A. Barrett, Secretary