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Last Post 05 Apr 2024 04:33 PM by  Kevin S Ruegg
R-24-0030 Rules 32(b) and (c), Rules of the Supreme Court
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Stacy Skankey
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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10 Jan 2024 03:32 PM
    Stacy Skankey
    Goldwater Institute
    500 E. Coronado Rd.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Phone: (602) 462-5000
    Fax: (602) 256-7045
    [email protected]
    AZ Bar # 035589
    Petition to Amend Rules 32(b) and (c), Rules of the Supreme Court

    Filed: January 10, 2024

    Would amend Rules 32(b) and (c) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona to eliminate the authority to levy State Bar membership dues for non-regulatory functions.

    Comments must be submitted by no later than Wednesday, May 1, 2024, and any reply by a petitioner must be submitted no later than Monday, June 3, 2024.
    Attachments
    Steven R. Simon
    New Member
    Posts:2 New Member

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    20 Jan 2024 10:06 AM
    Steven Simon Law, PLLC
    1815 Purdy Ave
    Miami Beach, FL 33139-1425
    https://www.inslaw.net
    Office: 305-972-6074

    This proposed amendment is critical to safeguard the 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights and the 14th Amendment due process property rights of attorneys in the monies that we are required to pay as dues in order to maintain our bar licenses. Right now the Arizona Bar is charging over $500 annually for basic membership while I am only paying $265 a year for my Florida Bar dues and there is no good reason for this cost differential. Extra frills that the Arizona Bar governors want to spend should be paid by voluntary contributions.
    Carrie Ann Donnell
    New Member
    Posts:2 New Member

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    02 Feb 2024 11:45 AM
    Carrie Ann Donnell
    American Juris Link
    7000 N 16th St. #120-155
    Phoenix, AZ 85020
    [email protected]

    I support the proposed rule to reduce State Bar membership dues to the cost of regulatory functions. I have worked in public interest law my entire career, providing pro bono services to the most vulnerable clients in Arizona. I have also offered legal services in Arizona at very low market rates while working part-time as a stay-at-home mom. It is critical that attorney bar dues are minimal in order to maximize access to justice. Any extra overhead, even a few hundred dollars a year, increases client costs and reduces lawyer availability for those who can least afford it. This is unjustifiable when the extra fees are completely unrelated to the lawyer's qualifications or ability to adequately represent her clients -- and especially when the fees are for services, functions, and positions that the lawyer doesn't use or actively opposes. For these reasons, I support the proposed rule.
    James C. Mitchell
    New Member
    Posts:1 New Member

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    08 Feb 2024 09:38 AM
    James C. Mitchell
    Rua António Gonçalves
    LT 4, Apt 3A
    3040-375 Coimbra, Portugal
    [email protected]
    U.S. phone 520-907-2478

    I write to support this proposal and to stress a requirement for the legitimate regulatory activities suggested by Petitioners: to be essential, a program must work. No mandatory bar function should be undertaken without proof that it is likely to achieve its asserted goals. No existing function should be continued without periodic proof of performance.

    One State Bar function identified by Petitioners as permissible is enforcing mandatory continuing legal education. Permissible, but unproven. Perhaps in the future it will be possible to reduce wasted time, onerous costs, and the State Bar’s temptation to push political viewpoints. At present, however, MCLE as imposed here fails any realistic standard of necessity for regulation of the practice of law.

    Consider the recent appraisal of a distinguished task force appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court to study lawyer competency. After a two-year research project, the task force in 2023 “found no scientific study or empirical evidence to support the claim that compulsory CLE is an effective means of maintaining and enhancing lawyer competence, and after 40 years of mandatory CLE in Georgia and elsewhere, the absence of such support is striking. And yet, mandatory CLE requirements impose real costs upon lawyers, year after year.”

    That conclusion is astonishing for its clear-eyed candor. Bar regulators nationwide have avoided any careful examination of MCLE for decades. To my knowledge, the only other state to rigorously study its forced CLE scheme was Michigan. There, the mandate was rescinded, with one Michigan Supreme Court justice finding that it had “no more value than chicken soup.”

    MCLE’s futility is obvious to millions of its dragooned customers, but a hard sell to bar associations that cherish their cut of the course fees and the warm fuzzy bragging rights for promoting “education.” As I noted in 1999, MCLE represents “the unseemly mating of cash cow and public relations bull.” Our State Bar once boasted about the profit it was making, apparently forgetting that the State Bar’s CLE profit was the members’ loss.

    As the Georgia report indicates, customary rationalizations for compelled CLE are crumbling in their vacuum of verifiable value. Over the years, however, some MCLE supporters have attempted to thwart informed criticism by arguing that the mandate is a done deal. “That train has left the station,” they say.

    Yes, but what a muddled metaphor. Nobody ever bought an overpriced train ticket for the purpose of leaving a station. Travelers want to get somewhere. MCLE’s asserted destination was always a mirage, a mythical land where forced torpid seminars protect the public and ensure that all the lawyers are above average. That train has not arrived. For all we know, it’s off the rails and spinning its wheels in the desert sand somewhere, feigning optimism by puffing, “I think I can, I think I can….”

    But it can’t, given the proven paucity of evidence supporting it. That train is a half-century late in some states, thirty-five years in Arizona. This is no way to run a railroad or regulate a learned profession.

    Petitioners’ proposal would help eliminate the mandatory bar mission creep that sucked Arizona into the MCLE swamp. It could help lead to MCLE's elimination or at least to substantial mitigation of its harm. I therefore respectfully ask this Court to approve the requested rule.
    _____

    The Georgia Task Force report:
    https://www.gasupreme.us/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/LCTF-Final-Report.pdf
    (I am a former member of the State Bar of Arizona. Resigned in good standing upon retiring and moving to Portugal.)
    Pearlette J. Ramos
    New Member
    Posts:1 New Member

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    28 Mar 2024 03:54 PM
    Pearlette J. Ramos
    President, Arizona Black Bar
    P. O. Box 628
    Phoenix, AZ 85001
    [email protected]
    (480) 213-8339
    www.arizonablackbar.org

    The Arizona Black Bar (“ABB”) opposes the petition, dated January 10, 2024, filed by the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute that amends Rules 32(b) and (c) (“Rule 32”), of the Arizona Supreme Court (“Court”) governing membership in the State Bar of Arizona (“State Bar”) which would: (a) maintain the current mandatory membership requirement for all lawyers; and (b) eliminate the membership dues for “non-regulatory functions.”

    The petitioners urge the Court to reduce the State Bar membership dues to only mandatory requirements related to regulatory functions. However, the State Bar has a responsibility that goes beyond the regulation of Arizona lawyers as its mission is to “serve and protect the public with respect to the provision of legal services and access to justice.”

    The State Bar performs vital functions that affect the legal profession, Arizonans and the community as a whole which are intertwined and interrelated. The proposed Rule 32 amendments would compromise the State Bar’s ability to offer the following:

     Ethics Hotline that provides proactive advice to prevent ethical mishaps
     Fee Arbitration Program that efficiently resolves disputes between the public and attorneys
     Maintain programs that improve access to justice
     Provide resources and assistance to partner bar organizations
     Engage in initiatives specifically aimed at improving lawyer well-being
     Offer educational programs that substantially benefits lawyers, the legal community and the public
     Organize pro bono legal service events for low and middle-income Arizonans

    These and other State Bar programs are germane to lawyers’ ability to participate in pro bono work, educate the public about legal issues, and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.

    In conclusion, the State Bar is the heartbeat of the Arizona legal community. It is the foundational element upon which lawyers engage with one another and the public. The ABB and other partner bar associations rely on the services and functions provided by the State Bar. As such, the ABB urges the Court to refrain from adopting the proposed Rule 32 amendments.

    kielsky
    New Member
    Posts:2 New Member

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    01 Apr 2024 05:28 PM
    Michael Kielsky, #021864
    Attorney
    KENT LAW, PLC
    7540 S. Willow Dr.
    Tempe, AZ 85283
    480.359.5368
    [email protected]

    I support this proposed rule change, for all the reasons provided in the petition. As former (Maricopa County Bar Association) and current (East Valley Bar Association) president of local, voluntary bar associations, many if not most non-germane activities of the State Bar of Arizona are already activities, programs, and services lawyers seek and find in voluntary bar organizations.

    The State Bar of Arizona's inability to out-compete and displace the voluntary bars should stand as proof that the State Bar of Arizona's use and abuse of mandatory bar dues for non-germane activities is not the exclusive, the best, or the only way for such. Even with its (Supreme Court sanctioned) near-monopoly and its mandatory dues (costs plus) model, the State Bar fails to out-compete the voluntary bars in the market-place. That alone is proof positive that limiting the State Bar by rule to ONLY the core of its regulatory functions will not harm the legal profession, and will most likely help further improve the legal profession and the better serve the public.

    /s/ Michael Kielsky
    Aditya Dynar
    New Member
    Posts:1 New Member

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    01 Apr 2024 08:13 PM
    Aditya Dynar (031583)
    Pacific Legal Foundation
    3100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1000
    Arlington, VA 22201
    (602) 582-0356
    [email protected]

    I support this rule-change petition. A vast majority of Arizona lawyers are required to interact with the State Bar of Arizona's website on only two occasions every year. The first is to electronically fill out and submit the yearly CLE affidavit around June. The second is to pay the bar dues and fill out related electronic forms in January. The petition strikes the appropriate balance between protecting SBA's core functions and permitting the collection of annual dues to cover only those functions.

    My office address is provided for identification purposes only. I submit this comment as an individual. This comment is not submitted on behalf of my employer or anybody else.

    /s/ Aditya Dynar
    Dustin Romney
    New Member
    Posts:1 New Member

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    03 Apr 2024 03:10 PM
    Dustin Romney
    Frazier Law, PLLC
    7702 E Doubletree Ranch Rd., Suite 300
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
    480-352-5256
    [email protected]
    Arizona State Bar #034728


    I fully support this rule change. It is manifestly unjust for anyone to be forced to fund political speech or activism with which they disagree. Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court has recognized this as a constitutionally protected right. It is long past time for the Arizona bar to respect that right.
    Kevin S Ruegg
    New Member
    Posts:1 New Member

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    05 Apr 2024 04:33 PM
    Kevin S. Ruegg, CEO
    Arizona Bar Foundation
    4201 N. 24th St, Ste 210
    602-340-7356
    FAX - N/A
    [email protected]
    Bar # - N/A

    The Arizona Supreme Court established the State Bar of Arizona and tasked it with not just regulating the practice of law but gave it a mission “to serve and protect the public with the provision of legal services and access to justice.” In turn, and pursuant to this mission, the State Bar of Arizona created the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (AZ Bar Foundation) as a separate 501(c)(3) organization in 1978, to assist in promoting access to justice for all Arizonans.

    In partnership with the State Bar, the Foundation strives to fulfill this mission through shared responsibility for several joint programs impacting thousands of Arizonans each year. In 2023 alone: the Modest Means Project - a statewide reduced-cost legal help program - helped 12,300 people; Wills For Heroes – a free end-of-life care and estate planning program for first responders and their families - created 327 wills, and Mock Trial – a trial simulation program designed to engage students in the law - impacted 967 students. Additionally, during the COVID crisis, the AZ Bar Foundation and State Bar of Arizona partnered to create the Covid-19 hotline to help nearly 3,000 individuals understand changes in the law due to the pandemic.

    Second, the State Bar of Arizona facilitates and provides strong support to the AZ Bar Foundation’s programs in numerous ways. In addition to financial support for expanding pro bono efforts, the State Bar organizes a member donation drive and promotes pro bono service and charitable giving to support legal aid services for low-income Arizonans.

    Finally, the State Bar of Arizona serves and protects the public by building trust in the legal system through education of the public about their rights, hosting and promoting free legal clinics, and operating a public service center which receives more than 10,000 calls each year. Through all facets of its operation, the State Bar of Arizona consistently promotes trust in the legal system, access to justice and protects the public.

    It is for these reasons that the AZ Bar Foundation submits this comment opposing the changes proposed in Petition R-24-0030.

    Limiting the State Bar’s activities solely to attorney regulation would strip away the State Bar’s ability to partner with legal organizations and law firms to ensure that Arizona continues to promote access to justice. It would severely hinder volunteer lawyer assistance and campaigns to fund free legal help to those in need. Therefore, with great concern for the negative impact on fellow Arizonans and the AZ Bar Foundation, we respectfully request that the Court deny changes to the State Bar of Arizona as proposed in this petition.

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