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.

2019 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.

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.

2019 Public Affairs Committee Members

Eric Foster, Chair, Medford

Eddie Medina, Vice-Chair, Beaverton

Whitney Boise, Portland

John Bachofner, Vancouver, WA

Kate Denning, Salem

Kamron Graham, Portland

Bik-Na Han, Hillsboro

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

Program Mission Statement

The Public Affairs Department advances the bar’s mission of promoting respect for the rule of law and increasing access to justice by advocating in the legislature for adequate funding of the judicial system and legal services for the poor, responding appropriately to challenges to a fair and impartial judiciary and to the court’s authority to regulate the legal profession, and pursuing improvements to the administration of justice.

Program Description

The Board of Governors Public Affairs Committee develops the policies that guide the department’s work and recommends positions the bar should take on public policy issues affecting the bar and the legal profession.

With the oversight of the Public Affairs Committee, the Public Affairs team provides information and assistance to bar groups, bar members and government bodies on a wide variety of bar-related legislation and public policy issues facing the profession, with special emphasis on access to justice and preserving the independence of the judiciary. The Public Affairs team works closely with OSB sections and committees on law improvement legislation and to identify responses to significant legal trends that affect the practice of law and the bar.

Legislative Session Guidelines

The Public Affairs Committee is committed to advancing the bar’s mission to protect the public, improve the administration of justice, promote respect for the rule of law and increase access to justice. To that end, the Public Affairs Committee supports the following legislative goals:

  • Protect the public, the administration of justice and the rule of law.

  • Create meaningful access to justice and provide information about the law, legal issues, and the civil and criminal justice system.

  • Make Oregon laws more consistent and more uniform.

  • Improve the ability of attorneys to competently serve the interests of the citizens of the state.

  • Support a fair and effective criminal justice system.

  • Ensure efficient, competent and ethical delivery of legal services.

  • Promote the protection of privileged and confidential information while promoting access and education regarding public records.

  • Provide appropriate information and assistance regarding ethical issues to legislators, especially legally-trained legislators.

  • Improve the juvenile justice system and encourage better coordination between the different components of the system.

  • Foster diversity, equity and inclusion among legal service providers and in the justice system.

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


Task Forces