D.C. Bar Annual Report
From Washington Lawyer, July/August 2010Leading the Way to the Future
The D.C. Bar continued to experience change in fiscal year 2009–2010 as it strived to meet the current needs of its members and the community, and to prepare for future challenges.
During her term Bar President Kim M. Keenan focused on the future of the Bar and the legal profession, adopting “Reinventing Leadership” as her theme and creating a Leadership Task Force charged with making recommendations to the Bar’s Board of Governors on how to improve leadership activities within the organization.
In Keenan’s inaugural “From the President” column, she wrote:
Reinventing leadership is about injecting the culture of leadership into everything we do. The goal is to find ways to encourage leadership throughout the membership, and to cultivate new leaders to take the reins so that we stay on the cutting edge of the profession.… I believe that as the economy experiences a correction, the legal profession must and will make its own correction. I believe that in making our correction, we will emerge stronger and better equipped to serve the needs of our profession, our clients, and our communities.
A significant part of this forward-looking vision is the Bar’s first strategic plan that provides guidelines for the organization’s future. Approved by the Board of Governors in November 2009, the plan is the result of an effort started in 2008 under then-Bar President Robert J. Spagnoletti. The plan includes a core ideology for the Bar, a statement of its envisioned future, focused goal areas for the next five years, and a set of strategic objectives in each goal area.
The plan will help the Board of Governors ensure that its decisions are consistent with the overall direction of the Bar and its motto of “Service, Integrity, and Leadership.”
Advancing Professional Excellence
The strategic plan was one of the topics explored at the 2010 District of Columbia Judicial and Bar Conference in April.
With the theme “Survival Strategies for Modern Legal Times,” the conference featured programming on topics such as keys to successful law firm management, perceptions of racial and ethnic disparities in the courts, how to navigate District tax disputes, prosecutors’ disclosure obligations, judicial selection, e-communication, and postconviction issues. The event also featured the opening plenary sessions “Impact of the Economy on the Legal Profession” and “Addressing Impairment in the Legal Profession.”
The Bar’s 21 sections offered members even more programming and networking opportunities than it did the previous year. This year the Sections Office produced 260 programs, 89 courses more than in fiscal year 2008–2009.
Three sections—Estates, Trusts and Probate Law; Law Practice Management; and Litigation—launched listservs as part of a pilot program to assess the value of an electronic discussion group. The listservs provide information on events, programs, and issues affecting practicing lawyers. Assigned coordinators field suggestions, questions, and complaints, as well as provide feedback to the Sections Council that will consider whether to continue or expand the use of listservs for members of additional sections of the Bar.
Nearly 9,000 attorneys attended courses held by the Bar’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program, including more than 3,500 who completed the Mandatory Course.
The CLE Program offered 123 different courses and 12 sessions of the Mandatory Course. Among the top drawers were “Dealing With the Foreclosure Crisis: What to Do for Your Client” (more than 100 registrants); “Fee Agreements in the District of Columbia: Ethical and Practical Guidance” (90 registrants); “Ethics Rock Extreme,” a musical ethics class offered as part of the Judicial and Bar Conference (130 attendees); and “Appellate Advocacy,” featuring Judges Brett M. Kavanaugh and Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (130 registrants).
In 2009 the Mandatory Course marked its 15th anniversary. Its first session was held in July 1994 with 61 attendees; in July 2009 a total of 312 attorneys had taken the course. With the goal of serving Bar members better, the Mandatory Course has changed dramatically over the years, and this year saw the inauguration of its use of a high-tech responder technology for more interactive question-and-answer sessions.
As the economy struggles along and more attorneys consider going solo, the D.C. Bar Practice Management Service Committee’s free interactive program, “Basic Training: Learn About Running a Law Office,” continues to grow in popularity. As of May 5, 2010, 320 people had attended the 20 sessions held in fiscal year 2009–2010. Overall, the program has attracted 509 attendees since it was first offered in November 2008.
Reaching Out to Members and the Community
As the bleak economy continues to cast a pall over the nation, the demand for pro bono legal services is more pressing than ever. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program can attest to this, having served a record number of clients at its court-based resource centers and monthly walk-in clinics. The number of clients served at the Advice and Referral Clinic grew to 1,084; the Landlord Tenant Resource Center assisted 5,296 people, a 13 percent increase from the previous year; and the Community Economic Development Project matched more than 50 community-based nonprofits with pro bono counsel.
To meet these challenges, the Pro Bono Program has strengthened its collaborations with other legal services providers, recruited new pro bono volunteers, and launched projects that focus on emerging issues.
One such project is the Consumer Law Resource Center where, one day a week, volunteers from Williams & Connolly LLP provide pro se assistance in consumer-related matters. The resource center, along with the D.C. Bar Strategic Planning Project, received the 2010 Best Bar Project Award.
The Pro Bono Program also launched the Health Care Access Project, which assists individuals with medical debt by matching them with lawyer volunteers who can help clients resolve their medical debt or obtain preapproval for care.
In addition, several law firms have been recruited to participate in the Advocacy & Justice Clinic, which seeks to provide representation on a range of civil legal problems through a partnership with legal services providers and District law firms and government agencies.
The Bar provides support and guidance to its members through its Lawyer Assistance Program, a free, confidential program for law students, lawyers, and judges who are experiencing problems with alcohol, anxiety, depression, drugs, or stress.
This year program staff and Lawyer Assistance Committee members worked closely with committee chair David Jaffe, associate dean for student affairs at American University Washington College of Law, to produce and present a DVD titled “Getting Healthy, Staying Healthy” at the annual conference of the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. The DVD has since been requested and shown by approximately 24 law schools across the country.
Meeting Professional Standards and Responsibilities
D.C. Bar Rule XI governing attorney discipline underwent more changes this year. Changes implemented by the Board on Professional Responsibility, the office that adjudicates cases of lawyer misconduct, include a new negotiated discipline process in which Hearing Committees now consider both petitions for formal discipline in contested proceedings and petitions for negotiated discipline brought by the Office of Bar Counsel.
There also may be changes to Rule XII of the Rules of Procedure of the Clients’ Security Fund. In December the Board of Governors approved two proposed revisions by the Trustees of the Clients’ Security Fund and forwarded them to the D.C. Court of Appeals where they were still pending as of press time.
The fund provides restitution to former clients when an attorney has been found to have dishonestly retained a client’s money, property, or other thing of value; its trust is funded by an annual appropriation of Bar members’ dues.
The proposed revisions would remove the preconditions or “jurisdictional triggers” that must be present for the fund to reimburse a client, and allow it to consider claims from claimants who sustained their loss as a result of the conduct of a disbarred attorney. In regards to the latter change, refunds would only be made if the applicant reasonably believed the attorney was licensed to practice law at the time he or she was retained, and only if the attorney had been disbarred for two years or fewer when retained.
Another resource for ensuring the integrity of the legal profession is the Bar’s Attorney/Client Arbitration Board (ACAB), which offers an arbitration service for Bar members and their clients to resolve disputes involving fees and legal malpractice. This year ACAB trained 25 new arbitrators—15 lawyers and 10 nonlawyers—on its fee arbitration service.
A number of amendments also have been made to the Fee Arbitration Service Rules of Procedure, and one of the substantive changes relates to whether a sole arbitrator or a three-person arbitration panel is selected for a case. The maximum amount of fees a sole arbitrator could adjudicate previously was $5,001, but recent amendments have raised that threshold to $10,001.
Finally, the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted amendments to the rules governing Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) recommended by the Board of Governors, turning what was then a voluntary program into a comprehensive one.
Starting August 1, 2010, participation in the IOLTA program will be mandatory for Bar members who receive IOLTA-eligible funds, except when an attorney is otherwise compliant with the contrary mandates of a tribunal, or when the attorney is participating in and compliant with trust accounting rules and the IOLTA program of the jurisdiction where he or she is licensed and principally practices.
The court also adopted interest rate comparability provisions for banking institutions in which Bar members are permitted to hold client funds.
The revised rules are intended to boost funds distributed by the D.C. Bar Foundation to local legal services providers by increasing revenue from D.C. IOLTA and interest paid by banks on funds held in these accounts. The revisions also provide greater clarity to the trust account ethics rules.
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BAR AND AFFILIATEConsolidated Statements of Activities and Financial Position
Years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008
|Admissions and registrations||1,746,993||1,754,371|
|Books and publication sales||212,183||224,259|
|Other fees and services||17,824||20,492|
|Net assets released from restrictions||—||—|
|Board on Professional Responsibility||$6,455,851||$6,012,174|
|Conference and Annual Meeting||201,548||395,624|
|Continuing Legal Education||2,599,897||1,874,166|
|Clients’ Security Trust Fund||255,273||70,570|
|Pro Bono Program||1,633,371||1,552,099|
|Total Program Services||$16,619,184||$15,049,999|
|Administration and Finance||$5,868,966||$5,205,358|
|Administration and Finance–Pro Bono||217,364||249,856|
|Fundraising Pro Bono||198,148||181,080|
|Total supporting services||7,326,120||6,628,398|
|Changes in net assets||(2,330,060)||(322,151)|
|Net assets beginning of year||9,991,167||10,313,318|
|Net assets end of year||$7,661,107||$9,991,167|
|Investments: Clients’ Security Trust Fund||701,833||751,191|
|Due from (to) funds||—||—|
|Receivables, net of allowance||175,554||169,115|
|Deposits and prepaid expenses||529,624||298,562|
|Furniture, equipment and leasehold improvements, net||6,944,643||1,085,484|
|Liabilities and Net Assets|
|Accounts payable and accrued liabilities||$3,592,996||$3,114,538|
|Landlord Improvement Allowance||4,287,266||—|
|Deferred Rent Liability||200,268||—|
|Net Assets Designated:|
|Mandatory dues purposes||$2,803,612||$4,518,170|
|Clients’ Security Trust Fund||701,833||752,388|
|Pro Bono Program||2,387,177||2,745,731|
|Continuing Legal Education||62,902||49,909|
|Total Net Assets||$7,661,107||$9,991,167|
|Total Liabilities and Net Assets||$26,356,321||$22,318,252|
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, 2009 and 2008. Any member who wishes to receive a full copy of the Bar’s Consolidated Financial Statements and Schedule may request one by calling 202-737-4700, ext. 3343.
BOARD OF GOVERNORS 2009–2010
Kim M. Keenan
The Keenan Firm
Ronald S. Flagg
Sidley Austin LLP
U. S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
R. Justin Smith
U. S. Department of Justice
Johnine P. Barnes
Baker & Hostetler LLP
Amy L. Bess
Vedder Price P.C.
Paulette E. Chapman
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.
Judith M. Conti
National Employment Law Project
Sabine S. Curto
Jenner & Block LLP
King & Spalding LLP
Nathalie F. P. Gilfoyle
American Psychological Association
Ankur J. Goel
McDermott, Will & Emery LLP
Ellen M. Jakovic
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Charles R. Lowery Jr.
The Consumer Federation of America
Rebecca M. McNeill
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Barry C. Mills
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP
Laura A. Possessky
Gura & Possessky, PLLC
James W. Rubin
Hunton & Williams LLP
Javier G. Salinas
Ernst & Young LLP
Christina G. Sarchio
Patton Boggs LLP
Robert J. Spagnoletti
Schertler & Onorato, LLP
Benjamin F. Wilson
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
D.C. BAR COMMITTEES AND TASK FORCES
Attorney/Client Arbitration Board
Malcolm L. Pritzker, Chair
Harold D. Kessler, Vice Chair
Robert J. Spagnoletti, Chair
Ronald S. Flagg, Chair
Gary E. Humes, Chair
Community Economic Development
Pro Bono Project Advisory
George E. Covucci, Chair
Professor Susan Bennett, Vice Chair
Continuing Legal Education
Morton J. Posner, Chair
Kristin D. Alden, Vice Chair
Carolyn B. Lamm, Chair
Disaster Practice Issues Working Group
Richard B. Nettler, Chair
T. Cary Devorsetz, Chair
Kim M. Keenan, Chair
Family Law Task Force
Rita M. Bank, Cochair
Margaret J. McKinney, Cochair
Robert J. Spagnoletti, Chair
Governance Integration Advisory
George W. Jones Jr., Chair
Robert D. Okun, Chair
Kim M. Keenan, Chair
David B. Jaffe, Chair
Ellen L. Stefani-Pyle, Vice Chair
Leadership Task Force
David J. Cynamon, Cochair
Alfreda Robinson, Cochair
Thomas B. Mason, Chair
Devarieste Curry, Vice Chair
Charles K. Kerby III, Chair
Marilyn E. Mickelson, Vice Chair
Paul M. Smith, Chair
Robert J. Spagnoletti, Chair
Kim M. Keenan, Chair
Practice Management Service
Peter C. Wolk, Chair
Natalie Marie Koss, Vice Chair
H. Guy Collier Jr., Chair
James J. Sandman, Vice Chair
Theodore Hirt, Chair
Patrick McGlone, Vice Chair
Martha JP McQuade, Chair
Rules of Professional Conduct Review
George R. Clark, Chair
Bridget Bailey Lipscomb, Vice Chair
Christina G. Sarchio, Chair
Amy L. Bess, Cochair
James W. Jones, Cochair
D.C. BAR SECTIONS
Council on Sections
Darrell G. Mottley, Chair
Linda E. Carlisle, Vice Chair
Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section
Katherine C. Gehringer, Cochair
Michael L. Stern, Cochair
Antitrust and Consumer Law Section
Ronald G. Isaac, Cochair
Karin F. R. Moore, Cochair
Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law Section
Karl W. Means, Cochair
Bradley A. Thomas, Cochair
Computer and Telecommunications Law Section
Joy M. Ragsdale, Chair
Carolyn W. Brandon, Vice Chair
Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section
Larry Ellsworth, Chair
Elizabeth P. Gray, Vice Chair
Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section
Stephen B. Pershing, Cochair
Michael J. Zoeller, Cochair
Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section
David B. Deitch, Cochair
Seth A. Rosenthal, Cochair
District of Columbia Affairs Section
Esther S. Bushman, Cochair
Nicola Y. Whiteman, Cochair
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section
Brenda Mallory, Cochair
Anna L. Wolgast, Cochair
Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section
Kimberly K. Edley, Cochair
Catherine Mary Rafferty, Cochair
Family Law Section
Sarah C. Connell, Cochair
Avrom D. Sickel, Cochair
Government Contracts and Litigation Section
Elizabeth W. Newsom, Cochair
Mary Ita Snyder, Cochair
Health Law Section
Robyn W. Diaz, Cochair
Hemi D. Tewarson, Cochair
Intellectual Property Law Section
Stephen E. Belisle, Cochair
Barbara I. Berschler, Cochair
International Law Section
Susan M. C. Kovarovics, Chair
Priscilla W. Wakefield, Vice Chair
Labor and Employment Law Section
S. Micah Salb, Chair
Joyce E. Taber, Vice Chair
Law Practice Management Section
Jeffrey L. Berger, Cochair
Sundeep Hora, Cochair
David D. Fauvre, Cochair
Moxila A. Upadhyaya, Cochair
Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section
David H. Cox, Cochair
Steven L. Dube, Cochair
Lisa M. Zarlenga, Chair
Carolyn O. Ward, Vice Chair
Tort Law Section
Denis C. Mitchell, Cochair
Thomas C. Mugavero, Cochair
Board on Professional Responsibility
Charles J. Willoughby, Chair
Ray S. Bolze, Vice Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
Douglas Spaulding, Vice Chair
W. Mark Smith, President
Marna S. Tucker, Vice President