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
Public Affairs Assistant
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.
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.
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.
Public Affairs Policies
What is the Keller Rule?
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
State of Oregon
Bar Partner Links
The United States Congress
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.