Board Minutes

Board Minutes - July 12, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013
Big Cedar Lodge, Branson

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.
Nicole Colbert-Botchway
Mark W. Comley
Hon. Charles Curless
Dana Tippin Cutler
Joel R. Elmer
Brian Francka
Genevieve M. Frank
Michael E. Gardner
Wendy Garrison
John W. Grimm
Jim Guest
John R. Gunn
Edward J. Hershewe
Robert S. Kenney
J. B. Lasater
Mark H. Levison
Gregg F. Lombardi
Mira Mdivani
Max E. Mitchell
Nancy R. Mogab
Douglass F. Noland
Joseph P. Rice, III
Brett W. Roubal
Tricia M. Scaglia
Walter R. Simpson
Joan M. Swartz
W. Douglas Thomson
Raymond E. Williams
Eric J. Wulff

Present by telephone:
Hon. John F. Kintz

Members absent:
Hon. Richard Bresnahan
Neil F. Maune
Hon. Mark H. Neill
Antwaun L. Smith
Wallace Squibb

Others present:
Millie Aulbur
Catherine Barrie
Lucas Boling
Anne Chambers
Farrah Fite
Kent Hopper
Chris Janku
Cindy Neagle
Delores Shepherd
Robert Stoeckl
Gary Toohey
Eric Wilson

1. Minutes:

It was moved and seconded that the minutes from the Board of Governors meeting of May 10 and the Executive Committee meetings of May 10, May 23 and June 21 be approved. The motion was approved.

2. Finances:

A. Finance Report

(1) Financial Statements

Mr. Erik Bergmanis reported that the financial status is in good order. He called attention to the audit report, noting that the auditors gave The Missouri Bar an unqualified opinion regarding its financial books and accounting methods. He further reported that the receipts and disbursements are both on schedule. He noted that we incurred higher than expected expenses for snow removal, building insurance and furniture.

(2) 2013 Annual Meeting Budget

Mr. Bergmanis reported that the Board approves the budget for the Annual Meeting at this meeting. He noted that the Friday night awards banquet has been replaced with an awards luncheon and that this change, and other related expenses for Friday evening and for the meeting, is estimated to result in significant savings, which could be as much as $46,000 for this year’s meeting. It was moved and seconded to approve the Annual Meeting budget. The motion was approved.

(3) Enrollment Fee Increase

Mr. Bergmanis reported that the Finance Committee and Executive Committee are recommending a $75 increase in the enrollment fee for Missouri lawyers in categories 1 and 3, effective on January 1, 2014. Discussion focused on the need for the increase. This discussion included a review of the Bar’s fiscal cycle, which results in a surplus in the early years after a fee increase and eventually results in operating at a deficit at the end of the cycle. It was noted that the Bar is currently operating in the deficit phase of the cycle and has operated at a deficit for the past three years, utilizing reserves. It was further reported that the Bar’s reserves need to be increased from the current amount of three months to six months, an amount considered a standard minimum for bar associations. It was further noted that IT costs are a major driver behind the need for an increase with these costs having doubled in the last five years and the expectation that they will continue to grow if the Bar is going to meet the demands of connectivity and technological improvements needed and expected by members. It was also noted that while inflation has been very low on an annual basis, prices of goods and services paid by the Bar have risen. Additional discussion focused on the economic pressures faced by lawyers and the legal profession during the past five years. Comments were expressed regarding the wide range of benefits and member discounts that The Missouri Bar maintains and continues to develop to improve the practice of law
and for the financial benefit of members of The Missouri Bar, as well as the need to better communicate these benefits to members.

Additional discussion focused on a request by the Supreme Court of Missouri for The Missouri Bar Board of Governors to consider approving an additional fee increase to the current $20 amount of the enrollment fees that is earmarked to provide funding for the four legal services offices in Missouri. Mr. Starke provided a brief overview of The Missouri Bar and Board of Governors’ ongoing commitment to support access to legal services and access to the justice system for low-income citizens in the state. Mr. Gregg Lombardi provided a thorough review of the need for additional funding for legal services to the poor. He thanked The Missouri Bar, the Board of Governors and the Supreme Court of Missouri for their long history of support of legal services for the poor. He reported that the need for legal services to the poor continues to increase, with approximately 180,000 Missourians falling into poverty since the 2008 economic downturn and a total of approximately 900,000 Missourians now living in poverty. He explained the limitations on the ability of Legal Services offices to meet this need due to the lack of funding and the valuable impact that a fee increase earmarked for these offices would have on this need. He reported that these citizens currently cannot and do not have access to Missouri’s courts and the justice system.

Mr. Jack Brady briefly outlined efforts taken by The Missouri Bar to help bring access to the justice system to low-income citizens of the state, noting the $20 fee added to the enrollment fee for members of The Missouri Bar in 2003, as well as recent efforts to utilize the web to provide information about services available from organizations within the state to low-income citizens and continued support of pro bono efforts by attorneys. He suggested that there is a significant need for a comprehensive review of the current state of legal services to the low-income community, including identifying the many organizations and agencies that provide such services along with Legal Services offices within the state and to develop a comprehensive plan of action to address the issues of access to justice, the available funding, and services needed to make a positive impact on this problem.

Mr. Pat Starke thanked Mr. Lombardi, the Legal Services organization, and Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman for their commitment to access to justice and efforts on behalf of the low-income citizens of the state.

Mr. Starke further reported that a proposed fee increase, if approved, would be announced to the membership in this afternoon’s edition of ESQ and additionally through Missouri Bar publications. Members would have an opportunity to make comments to the Board of Governors regarding the proposed increase until the Board of Governors gives final consideration and vote at the board meeting scheduled for September 18 at the Annual Meeting.

It was moved and seconded to approve the $75 increase to the enrollment fees for members of The Missouri Bar in categories 1 and 3, effective January 1, 2014, as recommended by the Finance Committee and Executive Committee. The motion was approved.

Mr. Starke thanked Erik Bergmanis and the members of the Finance Committee for their work on the enrollment fee proposal.

3. Appointments:

A. July Appointments

JPE Committees

Mr. Pat Starke reported that appointments are needed to several Judicial Performance Evaluation Committees. He reported that Micah Hall and Robert Officer have been nominated for appointment to fill two openings on the 22nd Circuit (City of St. Louis). It was moved and seconded to approve these appointments. The motion was approved.

Mr. Starke also reported that Tom Jones has been nominated to fill one of four vacancies on the 21st Circuit (St. Louis County). It was moved and seconded to approve his appointment for the remainder of a term expiring in 2014, at which time he would be eligible for a full six-year term. The motion was approved.

Mr. Starke encouraged members of the Board to make recommendations to fill additional vacancies by the September meeting, noting that appointments are needed for one non-lawyer vacancy in the 7th Judicial Circuit (Clay County), one lawyer vacancy on the Appellate Committee from the Southern Appellate District, and three remaining vacancies on the 21st Judicial Circuit (St. Louis County).

Mr. Starke reported that the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committees are a critical part of the Non-Partisan Court Plan and they play an important role in the public’s perception of how judges are reviewed under the system. Mr. J. B. Lasater further reported on issues related to the resignation of all four lawyer members of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee in St. Louis County. Mr. Lasater reported that there may be a need to reevaluate how the JPE Committees are set-up and how the process is administered to address the issues in St. Louis County. He suggested such changes might include the possibility of appointing members of MATA and MODL to the JPE Committees, appointing judges from the Court of Appeals to the committees, having the Missouri Bar Board of Governors make the decisions regarding designations to retain or not retain, and to institute a program to help judges designated “do not retain” to improve. Additional suggestions included appointing in-house corporate attorneys from companies within the circuit with lawyers who practice before the judges providing input to these in-house JPE committee members. It was also suggested that lawyers on the JPE committees be given the option to have an automatic change of judge. Concerns were raised about the fairness to the parties and the process if the lawyers had the option to automatically change the judge. It was further noted that efforts should be taken to better educate the judges about why the judicial performance process exists, how it has evolved and how the process works, including explaining the limited discretion members of the JPE committees have, noting that if a judge falls below a minimum score value, that judge must be designated as “do not retain.” Other options discussed included having lawyers from other areas of the state, not practicing in the circuit, evaluate the judges. It was not known whether any disciplinary action had been initiated against any judges. Mr. Starke noted that a proposal containing a number of recommendations to address these issues is currently before the Supreme Court of Missouri.

B. September Appointments:

Trustees of The Missouri Bar

Mr. Pat Starke reported the Board will fill a vacancy on the Trustees of The Missouri Bar at the September meeting. He noted that Ms. Carla Fields Johnson’s term as a Trustee is expiring and she is not eligible for reappointment. He encouraged members of the board to make recommendations to fill this vacancy.

4. Governance Report:

A. Number of Board Meetings

Mr. Pat Starke reported that a small committee has been working on changing the number of Board of Governors meetings from six to four. Mr. Jack Brady provided a review of the current board meetings held annually. He noted that currently the Board of Governors holds a winter meeting in February, a Legislative Day in April, a meeting in conjunction with the Spring Committee Meetings in May, a summer meeting in July, a September/October meeting in conjunction with the Annual Meeting and one in November at the Fall Committee Meetings. He reported that the proposed change would reduce the number of meetings to four per year by combining the winter meeting, Legislative Day, and May meetings of the Board, holding this combined meeting in late February/early March. The other meetings would remain the same. It was noted that the change would not take effect until 2015 because the venue for the Spring and Fall Committee Meetings – Capitol Plaza Hotel – does not have late February/early March dates available in 2014. Dates are available for 2015 and 2016. Under the proposed schedule, the Legislative Day would be held on Wednesday, the Executive Committee and Board of Governors would meet on Thursday, and the Committee Meetings would be held on Friday. The dates would be March 4 – 6 in 2015 and March 2 -4 in 2016. Questions were raised about how committees with pending legislative issues could be incorporated into the Legislative Day activities if the committee meetings are held after that day. It was further noted that a major objective behind the change is to make best use of Board time and resources.
It was moved and seconded to move forward in the direction that has been outlined in the proposal. The motion was approved.

B. Diversity Seats

Mr. Pat Starke called attention to the written report from the committee appointed to review issues regarding the diversity seats on the Board of Governors, including a rule requiring review as to whether the seats should be continued. It was noted that the committee recommended that the diversity seats should be continued, but that the bar’s initiatives and efforts regarding diversity continue to be considered on a regular basis and evaluated as to whether the approaches are working or not. Some discussion focused on the original catalyst for the diversity seats, the possibility of changing the process by which a person is nominated or applies for a seat, and the possibility of refining the definition of diversity. Concerns were raised about the difficulty of defining diversity and the potential risk of inadvertent exclusion with a more narrow definition. Suggestions were made that the committee continue to discuss the issues related to the definition. It was noted that this further analysis would include focus on better defining a process to decide which applications/nominations are selected for the ballot, rather than narrowing the definition of who can apply or be nominated. A motion was made and seconded to accept the report, which includes the recommendation to continue the diversity seats. The motion was approved. Mr. Eric Wulff voted “no.”

C. Board Size

Ms. Nancy Mogab reported that the committee held a conference call to discuss the issues related to the size of the Board of Governors and that the members of the committee will be staying over for another meeting on Saturday. She encouraged any members of the Board who have thoughts or ideas related to board size to share them with any member of the committee (Governors Lasater, Lombardi, Wulff, Williams, Rice, Mdivani, Frank and Cutler). She further reported the committee intends to have a full report and recommendation in September.

5. Officers’ Reports:

A. President’s Report

Amicus-Lex Program

Mr. Pat Starke reported on the status of the Amicus-Lex program. He reported that 200 to 300 people have been recruited to contact members of the Legislature. He reported that a few spots are still missing and once the additional volunteers have been added, a list of those participating will be circulated to the Board. He reported the initiative will be an effective tool to communicate with the Legislature moving forward.

Veterans Program

Mr. Jim Guest reported on an initiative designed to assist veterans and perhaps active duty military personnel with legal issues. He reported a committee was created to identify legal issues facing this segment of our community. He noted that the committee members represent the Board of Governors, local bar leadership, veterans’ courts, the JAG Corp., the Veterans Administration and lawyers with expertise in areas of law affecting veterans and military personnel. He reported the goal is to identify the gaps in services to these groups and to develop programs and initiatives to fill these gaps. He reported the initial area identified would be to develop one-day clinics where veterans can come and speak directly with a lawyer. He reported these clinics would focus on three threshold legal issues facing this community – warrants, license holds, and child support issues – noting these issues are often obstacles to basic services, employment and housing. He reported the approach provides for a “Clinic in a Box” format currently used successfully in Oklahoma and Texas. He reported that initially the clinics are being considered for four areas of the state – Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia. He reported that the leadership of the local bar associations are in the process of presenting the idea of hosting a clinic to their associations. He further reported the clinic approach offers a format that makes the time invested by a lawyer very manageable. He also noted that efforts will be made to identify resources for veterans whose issues require more time and investment, including referral to agencies such as Legal Services, which in some parts of the state have federal funding specifically to serve veterans’ needs. Mr. Starke noted efforts are underway to organize the first clinic in Columbia and take advantage of the presence of the Annual Meeting as part of the initiative.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing at Annual Meeting

Mr. Starke reported the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence will be holding a hearing at the Annual Meeting. He reported the committee plans to hear testimony in four areas:

(1) A comprehensive review of court costs, fees, miscellaneous charges and surcharges;
(2) The state public defender system;
(3) The revision of the Missouri Criminal Code; and
(4) The organization of the state judiciary, including judicial resources, and the justice system.

He reported that the hearing will be a good opportunity for members of the Board to spend some time with the senators on that committee, all of whom have been very supportive of our efforts.

B. President-Elect’s Report

Mr. Jack Brady thanked the Board for the honor and the opportunity to be the 2013-14 Missouri Bar President. He noted that he has a number of priorities for his term, but added that other unanticipated events will arise, and in all cases, he will need the active participation and support of the Board of Governors to succeed. He noted the importance of attendance at board meetings and the value of interacting and establishing personal relationships among its members. And he noted his commitment to making board involvement a positive and enjoyable experience. He praised the staff of The Missouri Bar and their effectiveness in supporting the policy and program decisions of the Board. He reported that his focus for 2013-14 will include furthering the foundation established by President Starke related to the Amicus-Lex program, noting that we now have about 300 lawyers who will be responsive and willing to communicate with our state representatives and senators on issues of concern to the Bar and the administration of justice.

Mr. Brady reported that his plans include establishing a “Blue Ribbon” committee to take a comprehensive look at dealing with access to justice for the low-income citizens of Missouri. He also reported he will focus on the relevance of The Missouri Bar to members and to the public, including enhancing the Bar’s relevance to large firms. He reported that he will also focus on improving the Bar’s website to better engage both the younger members of The Missouri Bar and the public and that he would like to utilize the talent and expertise of the YLS and Leadership Academy in this endeavor. He also noted he will focus attention on key transitions in the profession, working to help young lawyers have a fulfilling and financially successful career and helping senior lawyers transition from the practice of law.

C. Vice-President’s Report

Mr. Reuben Shelton reported that he recently spoke at the Mound City Bar Association retreat and the Mound City Bar Foundation Dinner. He noted that he has also used the opportunity when speaking to groups and at CLE programs in corporate environments to encourage that corporate attorneys become members of The Missouri Bar, noting that he recently had such an opportunity at a patent law program. He further reported that all attorneys at his company, Monsanto, have now become members of The Missouri Bar.

He reported that he joined the leadership of the Bar and then Chief Justice Teitelman for their annual visit to Washington D.C. and had the opportunity to meet with Missouri representatives and senators or their staff members. And he noted that he will be attending and speaking at the Minority Issues Committee Diversity Summit.

D. Executive Director’s Report

(1) Theodore M. McMillian Judicial Excellence Award

Mr. Pat Starke reported that three nominees were received for this year’s Theodore M. McMillian Judicial Excellence Award and the Executive Committee has also added a fourth nominee and recommends the selection of Judge Michael Manners. Members of the Board spoke on behalf of each nominee. Following a vote of the Board of Governors, Judge Michael Manners was selected as the recipient for 2013.

(2) Media Articles

Ms. Sebrina Barrett called attention to the media report provided by Media Relations Director Farrah Fite included in the meeting packet.

(3) Board Election

Ms. Barrett reminded members of the Board that the ballots for the Board of Governors election will go out on July 19 and members will have until August 15 to cast their vote. She asked members of the Board to encourage colleagues to participate in the election.

(4) Bar Center Update

Ms. Barrett provided an update on the construction of the third floor of The Missouri Bar Center, noting that major construction has been completed and the installation of the front stairs along with some cosmetic items remain and are expected to be completed in the next two weeks. She commended Kent Hopper for his work as the liaison with the contractors and his oversight of the construction project, the CLE Department which was displaced from their offices since February and all staff for their professionalism while the work was being completed.

6. Legislation:

Mr. Pat Starke encouraged members of the Board to review the legislation materials included in the meeting packet.

7. Committee Reports:

A. Leadership Academy

Academy co-chairs Jerri Zhang and Amber Jeffers reported on the activities of the 2012-2013 class and introduced its members. Each individual member reported their two-year commitment to the Bar, which will commence following the end of their term. Pat Mobley provided a report regarding the group’s annual project – a series of four brief videos that will be used to promote MOLAP services to members of The Missouri Bar. He reported the videos will be placed on The Missouri Bar website and made available utilizing as many presentation vehicles as possible.

B.Lawyer Referral Service Committee

Mr. Ray Williams reported that the Lawyer Referral Service Committee is recommending an increase in the fee charged to the members of the public who are referred to a lawyer through The Missouri Bar Lawyer Referral Service from the current fee of $25 to $50, effective January 1, 2014. Mr. Williams also explained that when a lawyer accepts a case from the service, the attorney agrees to pay 10 percent of the fees earned to the Lawyer Referral Service. He noted that the committee also is recommending language to be added to the fee agreement between the service and the attorney/firm intended to clarify who is responsible for paying the 10 percent portion of fees. It was moved and seconded to approve the recommendations of the committee as presented. The motion was approved.

C.Client Security Fund Committee

Mr. Max Mitchell reported that the Client Security Fund Committee met on June 21 to consider the payment of claims of $2,500 or less. He reported that the committee recommends the payment of nine claims for a total of $7,909 and the denial of one claim. Mr. Mitchell noted that the Board has authorized payment of $39,658.01 so far for 2013 and the amount currently being recommended will result in a total that is still far below the $112,500 limit on payments authorized to be made prior to the November meeting. It was moved and seconded to approve the recommendation. The motion was approved.

D. Board Liaison Reports

Mr. Starke asked for any board liaison reports that required action or approval. Ms. Dana Tippin Cutler reported that she would submit a written report related to the Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education.

8. Candidates’ Forum:

Mr. Pat Starke opened the floor to the candidates who are running for the position of Vice-President of The Missouri Bar, giving each candidate five minutes to address the Board. Governors Erik Bergmanis and Suzanne Bradley expressed their interest in becoming the next vice-president, with each candidate briefly describing their qualifications, vision and reasons for running for the leadership position.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Sebrina A. Barrett, Secretary