Washington Lawyer

D.C. Bar Annual Report

From Washington Lawyer, July/August 2009

Challenges and Changes

Fiscal year 2008–2009 has been nothing short of historic and, for all its booms and busts, is best summed up in a single word: change. For the D.C. Bar, 90,000-plus members strong and counting, “change” is a fitting description of the past year as it broke new ground and rallied for bold actions to anticipate future needs and challenges.

Upon assuming office in 2008, D.C. Bar President Robert J. Spagnoletti spelled out the Bar’s new and immediate charge: meeting the future with a plan. “We are a unified bar; we need a unified vision of how we achieve our mission,” Spagnoletti wrote in his inaugural “From the President” column in Washington Lawyer. The year 2008–2009 called for the Bar to be forward-looking, to define which route it will take, and to build on traditions that have served it well for nearly four decades. As part of this effort, the Bar convened a Strategic Planning Committee to clarify its mission, review its current programs, identify trends in the legal profession, develop a vision for the future, and create a method for measuring the results of its initiatives. With the assistance of a professional facilitator, the committee has collected member feedback through focus groups, telephone interviews, and member surveys, and it aims to have a comprehensive plan adopted in the coming months.

Embracing Change
One of the concrete ways the Bar embraced change this year was by relocating its headquarters from 1250 H Street NW, its home for more than 15 years, to 1101 K Street NW. A special Building Committee, created early in 2008, examined multiple locations for purchase or lease before unanimously recommending leasing at the new location. The Bar’s new headquarters include features that will enable the continuation of outstanding service to the membership such as environmentally friendly design, welcoming presence, state-of-the-art technology services, and expansive office and conference room space to house its extensive offering of educational programs into the next decade.

Also relocating this year was the Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR), the office that adjudicates cases of lawyer misconduct. On May 15, 2009, BPR moved to the completely renovated Old Courthouse of the District of Columbia, at 430 E Street NW, along with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The move accommodates BPR’s Office of the Executive Attorney and enables its hearings to take place in Courtroom II. The restoration of this historic landmark at the center of Judiciary Square is the conclusion of a multiyear project that brings back a jewel that will serve the public for generations to come.

In spite of the difficult economic environment that prevailed for most of 2008, the Bar forged ahead to deliver on its promise of service, integrity, and leadership. Having reached the limit of its prior dues ceiling set by the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003, the Bar’s Board of Governors petitioned the court in June 2008 for an increase to $285, allowing the Bar to operate effectively for at least the next five years. After securing the court’s approval of the new ceiling in September 2008 and undergoing months of deliberations, the Board of Governors adopted a fiscal year 2009–2010 budget that set membership dues of $224 for active members, $126 for inactive members, and $113 for judicial members. The new dues amounts will take effect July 1, 2009.

Weathering the Crisis
For proof of the Bar’s resilience in times of crisis, one only needs to look at its year-end numbers. While the recession forced belt-tightening measures among lawyers and law firms everywhere, the Bar’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program consistently worked to equip Bar members with the right tools to aid them in their practice which, in turn, translates into better service for their clients. In 2008–2009 approximately 4,000 new Bar members registered for the Mandatory Course on the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and District of Columbia Practice. In all, more than 7,000 Bar members took advantage of training opportunities offered by the CLE Program in the past fiscal year.

The Bar’s 21 sections also continued to offer a valuable array of substantive programs and networking opportunities for its 30,000 members. Affirming the staff’s hands-on involvement, excellent planning skills, and team effort, the Sections Office produced 171 programs, with approximately 50 more in line. For the first time in 10 years, all 21 sections cosponsored the annual Youth Law Fair, which focused on the inherent risks associated with teens increasingly turning to popular media to communicate. The event, held on March 7, 2009, in partnership with the D.C. Courts, earned for the Litigation Section the 2009 Best Section Community Outreach Project Award. The Health Law Section, on the other hand, developed two CLE programs and held a number of training sessions geared toward the public, winning it the 2009 Best Section Award. The Sections Office also formalized its E-Mail Only Project, with 18 sections now opting to use e-mail as their primary form of communication with members.

In the face of difficult times, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program continued and expanded its efforts to serve those of limited means in the community. It launched a fourth resource center at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, this one to assist clients with consumer law matters, joining the more established resource centers focusing on landlord–tenant, probate, and tax sale redemption matters. It also undertook the Health Care Access Project in February 2009 to assist District residents denied medical care due to unpaid medical debt.

Additionally, the Pro Bono Program continued operating a broad array of programs that connected Bar members to low-income clients struggling with legal matters. Its Advocacy and Justice Clinic matched hundreds of clients with attorneys from 27 major law firms and government agencies, its Community Economic Development Project and Small Business Initiative brought legal services and training to several hundred nonprofit groups and small businesses, and its Advice and Referral Clinics assisted more than 1,000 individuals in the Anacostia, Columbia Heights, and Shaw neighborhoods. The Pro Bono Program also assisted tenants in more than 350 rental units to remedy code violations and hazardous living conditions, and it provided a wide range of general law-related information to the public through recorded telephone announcements and Internet postings. Separately, its training programs prepared more that 750 lawyers and paralegals to work with legal services providers to meet the specific needs of their clients.

Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession
The Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) and the Office of Bar Counsel continued the important work of maintaining the integrity of the legal profession by operating the D.C. Bar’s lawyer discipline system. They, too, embraced change when the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted several amendments to its disciplinary rule. Those changes included a procedure for negotiated discipline, the ability to impose temporary suspension of attorneys in certain circumstances, a default discipline procedure, suspension pending final action by the court where BPR recommends disbarment or suspension for more than one year in certain circumstances, an expedited reciprocal discipline procedure, and an expedited reinstatement procedure. In anticipation of the rise in diversion and monitoring cases, the Bar’s Practice Management Service Committee recruited and trained eight new practice monitors, expanding its existing pool of volunteers to 15.

Another way the integrity of the profession is being upheld is through the work of the Bar’s Attorney/Client Arbitration Board (ACAB), which docketed 79 cases in 2007–2008, representing nearly a 25 percent increase in fee disputes and legal malpractice claims docketed the previous year. So far in 2008–2009, the ACAB has opened and docketed 88 cases. Separately, the Lawyer Assistance Program produced a brochure specifically tailored for the District’s law student population, addressing concerns such as substance abuse and mental health issues. Some 6,000 copies of this brochure were distributed to local law schools and at various law student events.

Finally, the Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee wrapped up its review and analysis of the D.C. Bar Foundation’s proposal to change the rules governing Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA), turning it from a voluntary to comprehensive program for Bar members. IOLTA interest revenue, distributed by the foundation among local legal services providers in the form of grants, is anticipated to increase if the revisions are adopted by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Preparing for the Future
The nation’s bleak economic news included difficult stories of employment downturns as well. In response, the Practice Management Service Committee offered a timely course for Bar members contemplating starting their own practice. The free, interactive program, “Basic Training: Learn About Running a Law Office,” has been particularly popular, attracting 135 Bar members since it was launched in November 2008. To date, the training has run nine sessions, usually sold out 45 to 60 days in advance, and 10 more are scheduled for the remainder of 2009.

Change also was the theme at the 2009 D.C. Bar Conference on March 30, 2009, taking into account the shifts in power in both Congress and the White House. With the theme “Making History: What Does Change Mean for the District?” the conference explored how a new majority may impact District governance and issues as well as the judicial selection process.

Across the Bar, various departments rose to the challenge of being strategic and proactive even while operating under tight budgets. By enhancing the Bar’s online payments gateway, our Member Service Center closed a successful dues season with record-low suspensions. A total of 86,075 members paid their dues and applicable fees before the September 30, 2008, deadline.

Another way the Bar kept its eye on the future was by working with a consultant to undertake an information technology planning and staffing study at all three locations funded by Bar dues—headquarters, the Board on Professional Responsibility, and the Office of Bar Counsel. As a result, the Bar’s Board of Governors approved the consultant’s recommendations in April 2009 to adopt a centralized information technology services delivery model that meets the entire organization’s needs in a strategic, cost-effective, and collaborative manner while maintaining appropriate confidentiality and security of electronic data.

Uncompromised Commitment
Notwithstanding the difficult economic climate, the Bar has not wavered in its pledge to be of service to the community. In 2008–2009 the Bar continued assisting voluntary bar associations as well as fostering relations with the public. The Law School Initiative was launched in 2008 in an effort to connect law school students with services being offered by the Bar. The project, started during a forum attended by D.C. Bar and voluntary bar leaders as well as law school deans and representatives, will continue into fiscal year 2009–2010.

The Bar remains a strong ally of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission in its efforts to ensure adequate public funding for civil legal services. During a particularly challenging year, when the needs of the lower-income population have increased, the Bar more than ever acknowledged its special obligation to help. By way of testifying before the District’s representatives, the Bar was able to successfully assist in the commission’s efforts to keep District funding largely intact for the next fiscal year.

Through the years the Bar has survived one obstacle after another, and 2008–2009 was no exception. As the year’s accomplishments demonstrate, the Bar remains quick to adapt to change and strong enough to see beyond even the most challenging times.

BOARD OF GOVERNORS
2008–2009

President
Robert J. Spagnoletti
Schertler & Onorato, LLP

President-Elect
Kim Michele Keenan
The Keenan Firm

Secretary
Javier G. Salinas
Ernst & Young LLP

Treasurer
Lena Robins
Amgen Inc.

Members
Johnine P. Barnes
Baker & Hostetler LLP

Amy L. Bess
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP

Paulette E. Chapman
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson,
DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.

Judith M. Conti
National Employment Law Project

Sabine S. Curto
Jenner & Block LLP

Judy Deason
King & Spalding LLP

Ronald S. Flagg
Sidley Austin LLP

Nathalie F. P. Gilfoyle
American Psychological Association

Ankur J. Goel
McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Antonia B. Ianniello
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Ellen M. Jakovic
Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Charles R. Lowery Jr.
Attorney-at-Law

Rebecca M. McNeill
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow,
Garrett & Dunner, LLP

Barry C. Mills
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

Laura A. Possessky
Gura & Possessky, PLLC

Christina G. Sarchio
Patton Boggs LLP

DeMaurice F. Smith
National Football League Players
Association

Melvin White
McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Benjamin F. Wilson
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

D.C. BAR COMMITTEES AND TASK FORCES

Attorney/Client Arbitration Board
Donna Bright Rubenstein, Chair
Carol P. Stuart, Vice Chair

Audit
Melvin White, Chair

Budget
Kim Michele Keenan, Chair

Building
Gary E. Humes, Chair

Community Economic Development
George E. Covucci, Chair
Susan Bennett, Vice Chair

Continuing Legal Education
Virginia A. McArthur, Chair
Kristin D. Alden, Program Chair

Court Funding
Carolyn B. Lamm, Chair

Disaster Practice Issues Working Group
Richard B. Nettler, Chair

Disciplinary System Study
John A. Payton Jr., Chair
Joan L. Goldfrank, Vice Chair

Dues Ceiling
John C. Cruden, Chair

Election Board
Lois Hochhauser, Chair

Executive
Robert J. Spagnoletti, Chair

Family Law Representation
Margaret Martin Barry, Chair

Finance
Melvin White, Chair

Governance Integration Advisory
George W. Jones Jr., Chair

Judicial Evaluation
Robert D. Okun, Chair

Landlord–Tenant Implementation
Kim Michele Keenan, Chair

Lawyer Assistance
Laurens Ayvazian, Chair
Peter Cohen, Vice Chair

Legal Ethics
Hamilton P. Fox III, Chair
Devarieste Curry, Vice Chair

Membership
Charles K. Kerby III, Chair
Marilyn E. Mickelson, Vice Chair

Nominations
Eileen Sobeck, Chair

Pension
Melvin White, Chair

Personnel
Robert J. Spagnoletti, Chair

Practice Management Service
Peter C. Wolk, Chair
Natalie Marie Koss, Vice Chair

Pro Bono
H. Guy Collier Jr., Chair
Eric S. Jackson, Vice Chair

Publications
Theodore Hirt, Chair
Patrick McGlone, Vice Chair

Regulations/Rules/Board Procedures
Martha JP McQuade, Chair

Rules of Professional Conduct Review
Eric L. Hirschhorn, Chair
Daniel Schumack, Vice Chair

Screening
Christina G. Sarchio, Chair

Strategic Planning
Amy L. Bess, Cochair
James W. Jones, Cochair

D.C. BAR SECTIONS

Council on Sections
James E. Rocap III, Chair
Darrell G. Mottley, Vice Chair

Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section
Ilene R. Heller, Cochair
R. Justin Smith, Cochair

Antitrust and Consumer Law Section
Ronald G. Isaac, Cochair
Maribeth Petrizzi, Cochair

Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law Section
Karl W. Means, Cochair
Bradley A. Thomas, Cochair

Computer and Telecommunications Law Section
Nicholas G. Alexander, Cochair
Matthew A. Brill, Cochair

Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section
James E. Day, Chair
Larry Ellsworth, Vice Chair

Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section
Stephen B. Pershing, Cochair
Michael J. Zoeller, Cochair

Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section
Ashley N. Bailey, Cochair
Amit P. Mehta, Cochair

District of Columbia Affairs Section
Esther S. Bushman, Cochair
Claudia L. McKoin, Cochair

Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section
James W. Rubin, Cochair
Anna L. Wolgast, Cochair

Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section
Morris Klein, Cochair
Catherine Mary Rafferty, Cochair

Family Law Section
Kristin L. Henrikson, Cochair
Kathrina S. Peterson, Cochair

Government Contracts and Litigation Section
Elizabeth W. Newsom, Cochair
Mary Ita Snyder, Cochair

Health Law Section
Robyn W. Diaz, Cochair
Kendra A. Martello, Cochair

Intellectual Property Law Section
Stephen E. Belisle, Cochair
Barbara I. Berschler, Cochair

International Law Section
Susan M. C. Kovarovics, Chair
Jonathan G. Cederbaum, Vice Chair

Labor and Employment Law Section
Lily M. Garcia, Cochair
S. Micah Salb, Cochair

Law Practice Management Section
Jeffrey L. Berger, Cochair
Conrad J. Jacoby, Cochair

Litigation Section
Theresa A. Coetzee, Cochair
Mary L. Smith, Cochair

Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section
Roy L. Kaufmann, Chair
Arthur F. Konopka, Vice Chair

Taxation Section
Linda E. Carlisle, Chair
Lisa M. Zarlenga, Vice Chair

Tort Law Section
Catherine A. Hanrahan, Cochair
Christopher H. Mitchell, Cochair

AFFILIATED PROGRAMS

Board on Professional Responsibility
Charles J. Willoughby, Chair
Ray S. Bolze, Vice Chair

Clients’ Security Fund
Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, Chair
Robert P. Owens, Vice Chair

District of Columbia Bar Foundation
Stephen J. Pollak, President
Marna S. Tucker, Vice President

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BAR AND AFFILIATE
Consolidated Statements of Activities and Financial Position
Years ended June 30, 2008 and 2007
Revenue 2008 2007
Members’ dues $15,961,289 $14,953,407
Admissions and registrations 1,754,371 1,757,265
Advertising 360,700 399,784
Books and publication sales 224,259 196,093
Contributions 1,924,555 1,591,265
In-kind contributions 971,186 851,610
Investment income (549,395) 1,888,412
Mailing list 24,626 28,543
Miscellaneous 105,505 39,663
Other fees and services 20,492 41,732
Rental income 261,293 272,664
Royalties 297,365 283,470
Subscriber fees 2,313
Net assets released from restrictions
Total Revenue $21,356,246 $22,306,221

Expenses    
Program Services:    
Board on Professional Responsibility $6,012,174 $5,390,393
Regulation Counsel 1,697,850 1,571,184
Conference and Annual Meeting 395,624 248,310
Continuing Legal Education 1,874,166 1,951,399
Sections 1,497,630 1,569,711
Clients’ Security Trust Fund 70,570 300,166
Publications 1,949,886 1,939,453
Pro Bono Program 1,983,035 1,746,023
Total Program Services $15,480,935 $14,716,639

Supporting Services:

Administration and Finance $5,205,358 $4,872,719
Executive Office 992,104 920,333
Total supporting services 6,197,462 5,793,052
Total expenses 21,678,397 20,509,691
Changes in net assets (322,151) 1,796,530
Net assets beginning of year 10,313,318 8,516,788
Net assets end of year $9,991,167 $10,313,318

Assets 2008 2007
Cash $211,852 $272,499
Investments: Clients’ Security Trust Fund 751,191 750,000
Investments 19,802,048 18,428,344
Due from (to) funds
Receivables, net of allowance 169,115 184,775
Deposits and prepaid expenses 298,562 277,705
Furniture, equipment and leasehold improvements, net 1,085,484 1,310,832
Total Assets $22,318,252 $21,224,155

Liabilities and Net Assets    
Liabilities:    
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities $3,114,538 $3,176,484
Deferred revenue 9,193,880 7,715,685
Rent deposit 18,667 18,668
Total Liabilities $12,327,085 $10,910,837

Net Assets Designated:    
Mandatory dues purposes $4,518,170 $4,713,268
Clients’ Security Trust Fund 752,388 752,017
Pro Bono Program 2,745,731 2,669,881
Sections 641,852 811,611
Continuing Legal Education 49,909 49,443
Undesignated 1,283,117 1,317,098
Total Net Assets $9,991,167 $10,313,318
     
Total Liabilities and Net Assets $22,318,252 $21,224,155


The above financial reports represent the District of Columbia Bar’s Consolidated Statements of Activities and the Consolidated Statements of Position for the Years ended June 30, 2008 and 2007. Any member who wishes to receive a full copy of the Bar’s Consolidated Financial Statements and Schedule may request a copy by calling 202-737-4700, ext. 3241.