|Oregon State Bar Bulletin APRIL 2011|
2010 Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals has released the court’s 2010 Annual Report. The Hon. David V. Brewer, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, notes, “I hope that the public and our justice system partners find that the report explains how we are striving to maintain the court’s standard of principled and efficient decision-making, even with insufficient resources.”
The report explains that a workload study undertaken in 2010 by the National Center for State Courts demonstrates that despite successful efforts to modernize and improve its internal processes and case-deciding functions, the court needs at least three new judges and corresponding staff in order to merely “tread water” with its existing caseload. The report also outlines the court’s support for continued technological advancement that will help the court perform its work more efficiently and some of the new initiatives that the court is pursuing as part of its commitment to long-term solutions to chronic underfunding.
The complete report, which includes a link to the National Center for State Courts workload study, is available online at http://courts.oregon.gov/COA/docs/ 2010AnnualReport.pdf.
The House of Delegates Has a
Vacancy for You
Have you ever wanted to help make decisions at the Oregon State Bar? Do you have ideas to help the bar grow toward a brighter future? Are you able to donate time to one meeting a year for three years? If so, the bar’s House of Delegates needs you.
Each year, vacancies open up on the HOD from members whose terms have expired. Constantly refreshing the group’s membership gives more people a chance to participate in policy and decision making. And this year the process to run for an open HOD seat is easier than ever before, because the bar has eliminated the need for a nominating petition. All we need is a candidate statement — located at http://tinyurl.com/HODstatement — returned to the bar by March 18. For more information, visit www.osbar.org/leadership/hod.
BarBooks Feature Allows
Comments From Bar Members
The Legal Publications department of the OSB is excited to announce a new comment feature that has been added to the BarBooks online library. This feature allows you to provide insight into topics that you have dealt with in your practice. You can also discuss new case law, statutes, or rules that you are aware of that impact how material in any one of the books in the library might be applied in practice. Please review the instructions found at tinyurl.com/BarBookscomments before commenting.
Input Requested on New Uniform Civil Jury Instructions
The Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee requests input from those who use the jury instructions. Do you know of an instruction that needs revising or know of an area that is not addressed by a uniform instruction but ought to be? You can post a comment to that effect on BarBooks (online comment feature), which will be conveyed to the committee. Or contact committee chair Cynthia Newton at email@example.com with your suggestions.
LRAP to Help More Lawyers in 2011
The Oregon State Bar Loan Repayment Assistance Program is expected to expand its reach in 2011, serving more public service lawyers than in any year since the program’s inception. The LRAP uses forgivable loans to help lawyers working in public service pay their student debt. Lawyers who have benefitted from the program include public defenders, district attorneys and attorneys working for civil legal services providers.
The program will now offer loans in any amount up to $5,000. Participants selected will receive the forgivable loans for three years, as long as they stay in qualifying employment.
The Board of Governors made the change because of federal law that left many public service lawyers unable to apply for assistance. Currently, federal law affecting student debt limits the maximum monthly payment of federally-guaranteed and federal direct loans to 15 percent of disposable income, for loans made after 2006. Consequently, some lawyers working in public service pay less than $5,000 per year in student debt. Those attorneys can now seek assistance with whatever their annual loan payment is. The program will be able to help more attorneys, without increasing the budget for the program.
Many attorneys in public service face crushing debt, coupled with meager salaries. LRAP applicants last year had an average of $106,764 in student debt, while taking home an average salary of $42,445. The average monthly loan payment for those attorneys was $616. The OSB LRAP was created by the BOG in 2006 to help repay the students loans of attorneys who have dedicated their careers to public service.
Moving Toward a Sustainable Bar
Last year the Oregon State Bar adopted several new policies to save money while becoming more sustainable. For example, all fee statements were sent out electronically this year to avoid mailing costs and paper waste. Also, a requirement to have an e-mail address on file with the bar was adopted by the Oregon Supreme Court in August. http://www.osbar.org/secured/login.asp and clicking on “Communication Preferences,” then “Address Change.”
A new change that fits into the same category is now in effect in the bar’s Admissions department, which is finally getting out of the business of sending out paper bar applications. Applicants will now be able to get the application forms online beginning with the July 2011 exam at: www.osbar.org/_docs/admissions/ExamApplication.pdf. Admissions plans on making other types of bar applications electronic in the near future such as, reciprocity, house counsel, law teacher, pro bono and so on.