Public Affairs

Law Improvement Program

The Oregon State Bar Law Improvement Program is an avenue for Bar sections and committees to participate in the legislative process. Law improvement legislation includes proposals to clarify statutory ambiguities, to modify unforeseen “glitches” in major legislation passed in previous sessions, and to codify case law as necessary. The deadline for submission has passed for the 2019 legislative session. However, if a section group or committee is interested in the 2021 session, please contact the Public Affairs Department for more information.

OSB Sections and Committees have the opportunity to provide input on a legislative issue as well as take a position on proposed legislation. If your Section or Committee decides to take a position, please complete the form provided at the link above and submit it to the Public Affairs Committee through Susan Grabe, OSB Public Affairs Director. Proposals must receive approval from the Public Affairs Committee on behalf of the Board of Governors before taking any action. If any questions arise, please contact the Public Affairs Department.

OSB Board of Governors Public Affairs Committee

The Public Affairs Committee of the Board of Governors oversees the work of the program, and makes recommendation to the Board of Governors on public policy issues.

The Board or its Public Affairs Committee sets priorities regarding legislation or positions on legislation. In so doing, the Board will make a reasonable effort to do the following:

  • Encourage as wide a participation of the membership as possible;

  • Formulating positions on legislative issues;

  • Inform members of the Bars legislative positions;

  • Respect divergent opinions of subgroups within the legal profession;

  • Provide assistance to bar sections and committees;

  • Avoid committing bar funds to issues that are divisive or create factions within the profession;

  • Present major issues to the House of Delegates for approval.

2018 Public Affairs Committee Members

Kathleen Rastetter, Chair, Oregon City

Whitney Boise, Vice-Chair, Portland

Rob Gratchner, Portland

John Bachofner, Vancouver, WA

Eric Foster, Medford

Eddie Medina, Beaverton

Liani Reeves, Portland

Michael Rondeau, Roseburg

Oregon State Bar Public Affairs Staff

Susan Evans Grabe
(503) 431-6380
Amy Zubko
Legislative Attorney
(503) 431-6317
Matt Shields
Staff Attorney
(503) 431-6358
Kellie Baumann
Public Affairs Assistant
(503) 431-6376

Public Affairs Overview

Mission Statement

The Public Affairs Program works to apply the knowledge and experience of the legal profession to the public good by advising governmental bodies, proposing legislation for law improvement, and advocating on matters that affect the legal profession.

The Public Affairs Department provides legal expertise and assistance to lawmakers; informs bar leaders, members and government bodies on bar related legislation and public policy issues; assists bar groups with law improvement projects; and influences major issues affecting the legal profession and justice system.

The OSB Legislative Guideline Overview

The board has determined that the use of bar dues to participate in shaping legislation that involves the regulation of the legal profession and matters concerning the quality of legal services available to the people of Oregon is germane to the bar's role and is in the public interest.

Oregon State Bar legislative or policy activities shall be limited to those reasonably related to any of the following subjects:

  • The regulation and discipline of lawyers;

  • The improvement of the functioning of the courts including issues of judicial independence, fairness, efficacy and efficiency;

  • The availability of legal services to society;

  • The regulation of lawyer trust accounts;

  • The education, ethics, competence, integrity and regulation of the legal profession; or

  • The provision of law improvement assistance to elected and appointed government officials;

  • Issues involving the structure and organization of federal, state and local courts in or affecting Oregon;

  • Issues involving the rules of practice, procedure and evidence in federal, state or local courts in or affecting Oregon; and

  • Issues involving the duties and functions of judges and lawyers in federal, state, and local courts in or affecting Oregon.

*Excerpt from OSB Bylaws, Article 12 Legislation and Public Policy

Public Affairs Policies

What is the Keller Rule?

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Keller v. State Bar of California, 499 US 1, 111 SCt 2228 (1990) that an integrated (mandatory) bar's use of compulsory dues to finance political and ideological activities violates the 1st Amendment rights of dissenting members when such expenditures are not germane to the bar's purpose, which the court identified as regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services.

Keller does not prohibit integrated bars from using member dues to advance political or ideological positions that are not germane to the bars purpose; however, it requires that dissenting members receive a refund of the portion of dues attributable to the non-germane activity.

How To Get Involved

Useful Links

State of Oregon

Oregon Courts

Oregon Legislature

Bar Partner Links

The United States Congress

Historical Data

Legislative Session

2018 Legislative Session

The Public Affairs Department is available to assist all OSB Sections and Committees with bill tracking. As part of that process, Public Affairs staff reviews all bills introduced during a legislative session, and will refer bills to groups that we feel might be interested. Contact your Section or Committee chair in regards to what bills your section has asked to be tracked.


Task Forces