Update from WSBA President Patrick Palace

2013-14 WSBA Board of Governors

June flew by! I thought I would take a few minutes to give you an update on the highlights of the month.

The month began with our Board of Governors meeting at the WSBA conference center. I am happy to report to you that we had more members watching online then we have ever had before. It is my hope that this trend continues. Now that we have made space for people to join us online, we will grow it.

On June 9, I was invited to address the District and Municipal Court judges at their annual convention at Semiahmoo in Blaine. This gave me the opportunity to discuss not only the current status of the Bar and the issues regarding the future of the bar, but also an opportunity to discuss the future of the courts. DMCJA President Judge Svaren was a wonderful host and I appreciate being invited to speak at such a beautiful conference.

On June 11, Paula Littlewood and I began the Listening Tour. We travelled through the Northwest portion of the state as part of our annual Listening Tour. We met with lawyers in Montesano, Bremerton, Port Angeles, Coupeville, Mt. Vernon and Friday Harbor. Together these encompass the Grays Harbor County Bar, the Kitsap County Bar, Skagit County Bar and the Island County Bar.

During the tour, we talked about a myriad of issues, including the limited license legal technician rule, the changes in our NWLawyer magazine, and the future of the profession; we received a lot of supportive comments about Casemaker, the Legal Lunchbox CLE series and the Ethics line.  This was a very successful tour and a highlight for my presidency. It was such an honor to have the opportunity to meet with so many of our members and have frank discussions about the profession and the future of our bar.

On June 18, I spoke at the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) seminar entitled “Stress Less: Mindfulness 101.” This was a webinar about mindfulness. It included the first-ever online mindful meditation by a bar association. The actual meditation was led by Sherry Williams, who did a wonderful job. The seminar was well attended, particularly for an event that did not carry any CLE credit and was not focused on any black letter law. There were over 300 people in attendance. This seminar was in follow-up to the mindfulness edition of the June NWLawyer. I also wrote a blog piece entitled “Doing Nothing Can Be Really Something” that was a precursor to the seminar.

On June 19, I addressed the WSAJ Board of Governors and spoke about the current issues before our Bar with a focus on the future of the profession. WSAJ had great interest in the final report from the Escalating Costs of the Litigation Task Force. That report is expected to be finalized by the end of the fiscal year.

While at the WSAJ meeting, Jim Bamberger requested donations for the civil legal aid needs study. It gave me great pride to inform Mr. Bamberger and WSAJ that the WSBA had approved $15,000 for the study previously and that the Budget and Audit Committee recommended an additional $35,000, for a total of $50,000 to support a very meaningful and absolutely needed study. It is my hope that other bars will follow suit and provide money to further support the study.

That evening, former WSBA President Mark Johnson hosted the Equal Justice Coalition dinner. I had the pleasure of addressing members of the EJC community, as well as the leadership of a number of minority bars. This was a special opportunity to address this group because it was Justice Mary Yu’s birthday. We sang happy birthday to her and provided her with flowers and a card. It was a gift to us that she chose to spend her birthday supporting civil legal aid.

Finally, on June 20, I attended the Board of Judicial Administration meeting. When I drove into the parking lot, I spoke with the attendant to get a parking slip. I mentioned the Board of Judicial Administration. He smiled at me and said, “That’s funny, I get your little joke about being bored.”  Nevertheless, I did attend the meeting and I was not bored at all. BJA is engaged in a lively discussion about its strategic plan, retooling the structure of its committees, and the future role of BJA. It is exciting to see the Courts taking this role.

Next month, we will meet in Skamania County for our Board of Governors meeting. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to email me, patrick@palacelaw.com.