WisBar News: Board opposes proposed real estate legislation, supports Legislative Oversight Committee recommendation, and more:

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  • WisBar News
    August
    02
    2005

    Board opposes proposed real estate legislation, supports Legislative Oversight Committee recommendation, and more

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    At its July 22 meeting, the Board of Governors opposed proposed legislation that would allow real estate brokers to provide legal advice, affirmed the Legislative Oversight Committee’s decision on section advocacy on the proposed marriage amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution, authorized the ADR Section to file an amicus brief, approved revisions to the State Bar strategic plan and supported the current ABA delegate representation at the state level, among other actions.

    Board opposes proposed real estate legislation, supports Legislative Oversight Committee recommendation, and more

    Aug. 2, 2005

    At its July 22 meeting, the Board of Governors opposed proposed legislation that would allow real estate brokers to provide legal advice, affirmed the Legislative Oversight Committee's (LOC) decision on section advocacy on the proposed marriage amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution, authorized the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section to file an amicus brief, approved revisions to the State Bar strategic plan, and supported the current ABA delegate representation at the state level, among other actions.

    Real estate legislation. At the request of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Policy Committee and the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, the board opposed proposed legislation to expand the powers of real estate brokers under Wis. Stat. chapter 452, as outlined by the Wisconsin Realtors' Association's License Law Task Force Report. In a unanimous vote, the board agreed that such expansion would be detrimental to the public because it would allow brokers, who are not licensed to practice law by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to provide legal advice (including enhanced abilities to negotiate and draft contracts and explain the consequences of actions taken during transactions). Furthermore, the Bar is concerned that the proposed amendments to chapter 452 authorize activities that are intended to be precluded under sec. 757.30(2).

    Marriage amendment. The board affirmed the Legislative Oversight Committee's (LOC) decision that the Public Interest Law and Individual Rights and Responsibilities sections have met the requirements set forth by supreme court rule and have authority to use section resources only for public policy advocacy on the proposed constitutional amendment to define legally valid or recognized marriages. Both sections have pledged to continue to meet the requirements set forth by supreme court rule.

    The LOC was established last summer to assist the State Bar Government Relations team by monitoring public policy positions, providing recommendations regarding section lobbying fees and the costs of each section's annual legislative activity, and reviewing grievances filed by any sections, divisions, or individual State Bar members regarding public policy positions taken by the State Bar or its entities.

    ADR amicus. The board approved the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section's request to file an amicus brief in Borst v. Allstate Insurance Co., currently before the court of appeals. At issue are the partiality of an arbitrator who is a member of a law firm regularly retained by a third party to an arbitration and the extent to which an arbitrator may order or prohibit discovery. Chief Judge Daniel P. Anderson initiated the request for an amicus to assist the court in its deliberations. For more information, visit www.wisbar.org/adr.

    ABA delegates. The ABA Governance and the Section Officers commissions have made proposals to increase each body's representation. State Bar delegates to the ABA House of Delegates asked the Bar to provide them with some direction. The board voted that State Bar delegates should take a position that results in maintaining as closely as possible the current ratios between states and other ABA entities, which will ensure that the states and not the sections are the stronger voice.

    Other actions. The board adopted a public policy position, at the Bench Bar Committee's request, supporting a national statement by the Beverly Hills Bar Association to help the public recognize that recent verbal and physical attacks on the nation's judges and jurors jeopardize the independence of the judiciary and threaten the nation's democratic process. The national statement reads:

    "We, the undersigned, hereby express our solidarity in support of the independence of our Nation's judges, juries and courts. While the Constitution guarantees the right to disagree with a decision of a jury or judge, physical attacks, personal threats, demeaning epithets and false and misleading accusations create an atmosphere of contempt and disrespect which is unacceptable in a constitutional democracy. We all need to fear a day when our legal rights are determined by public opinion. The right to be judged by an independent judge or jury must be protected."

    The board approved a State Bar reserve policy, which ensures the Bar has adequate funding available to meet future needs in the case of an unexpected financial crisis, purchase facilities and equipment, provide startup funds for new programs and opportunities, and meet specific long-term obligations. The policy will be reviewed by the board every five years.

    The board approved the bylaws of the Section Leaders Council (SLC), formerly Section Leaders Advisory Council. The SLC's mission is to enhance the value of sections within the State Bar's administrative and governing structure and assist the sections in promoting the State Bar's mission.

    Robert Swain, Appleton, was elected to fill the board vacancy created by the resignation of Mark McGinnis who was elected Outagamie County Circuit Court judge.

    The board approved Past President Michelle Behnke's appointment of Jeri Fiala, Madison, U.S. Bank vice president and trust manager, to serve as a public member on the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WisTAF) board. The supreme court created WisTAF in 1986 to manage the state's Interest on Lawyers Trust Account program and provide financial support for the delivery of legal services to Wisconsin's low-income residents.

    The minutes will be posted on WisBar after approval at the September meeting.