As the Bar Foundation completes another calendar year, it is always beneficial to look back at what has been accomplished in the past 12-24 months. The Bar Foundation, through its Board of Directors, has achieved the following goals:
* IOLTA Program-Distributed over $920,000 to entities providing free civil legal services for low income West Virginians and implemented the IOLTA Comparability Rule, as approved by the WV Supreme Court.
* Grants-Authorized more than $55,000 to groups to improve the administration of justice, a 400% increase over what had been distributed in the previous four years.
* Bar Foundation Fellows-Selected thirty-two judges and lawyers to be awarded this prestigious honor.
* Finances-Received two clean annual independent audits, paid off more than $180,000 for all loans from the WV State Bar and added to reserve funds.
* Governance-Made decisions and took actions to operate the Bar Foundation in the most effective and efficient manner.
As the policy making body for a striving organization, the Board of Directors has the following plans for the near future:
* IOLTA Program-Implement the IOLTA2 automated database and enhance the working relationships with the State’s more than eighty banks as interest rates increase from their historic lows.
* Finances-Continue prudent financial operation and become debt-free by 2011.
* Education-Educate the general public with facts and information regarding the Bar Foundation, the legal profession and the justice system.
* Legal Entities- Expand cooperative programs and services with other groups and organizations in the legal community.
HAPPY NEW YEAR-
The West Virginia Bar Foundation and its Board of Directors, a diverse group of fifteen lawyers from all parts of the State and all types of law practice, wish you, your family and loved ones a Happy New Year and hope that 2010 is the best year ever for you!
U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE BERGER INVESTITURE CEREMONY-
On December 11, Judge Irene C. Berger took the public oath of office as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia before a large overflow crowd of legal, judicial and government leaders, as well as a multitude of relatives, friends and members of the general public, at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston. Judge Berger’s illustrious and extraordinary career has included legal experience representing low income persons, county and federal prosecutor positions and more than fifteen years as a Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge. She will hear cases at both the Beckley and Charleston Federal Courthouses.
BAR FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS-
On December 10, the Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting in Charleston. The fifteen member Board, a diverse group of lawyers from all parts of the state and all types of law practice, spent an extensive amount of time in fulfilling its fiduciary and policy making duties. The Independent Auditor provided a clean audit for the 2008-09 fiscal year, the Bar Foundation/State Bar Joint Committee reported on the lease situation for the facility at 2006 Kanawha Blvd., East in Charleston, the Financial Report was accepted, the Grants Committee received approval for two grants bringing the total grant funds distributed to more than $55,000 in the past 18 months, the 2010 class of Bar Foundation Fellows was approved, IOLTA grants were acted upon and the Bar Foundation’s actions in the past five years were reviewed.
IOLTA ADVISORY COMMITTEE-
On December 10, the IOLTA Advisory Committee met for its quarterly meeting in Charleston. The Committee, which consists of bankers, accountants, government officials and lawyers, reviewed the IOLTA funds that have appeared to stabilize after several months of reductions because of historically low interest rates and difficult economic conditions. Nevertheless, in the past two years, IOLTA funding in WV has gone down by approximately 30% while the national reduction average is approximately 65% with surrounding jurisdictions suffering even more—Maryland (70% decrease), Virginia (80% decrease) and Washington, DC (80%). The Committee recommended the distribution of $115,000 to the seven IOLTA grantees, in accordance with the Order of the WV Supreme Court (Rule 1.15 of the WV Rules of Professional Conduct).
THE LAW WORKS-
Upcoming on Thursday, December 17, Bar Foundation President John H. Tinney (Charleston) and Secretary/Treasurer J. Franklin Long (Bluefield) will be discussing the mission, activities, services and successes of the organization with host Dan Ringer on the long standing and well regarded The Law Works TV program on the WV Public Broadcasting System. The thirty minute legal program begins at 8:30PM. All three lawyers are Bar Foundation Fellows with many years of experience and expertise in the practice of law and with legally related entities.
BAR FOUNDATION CONTRIBUTION-
Recently, Steve White, a well known and well respected lawyer in Charleston, made an unsolicited substantial contribution to further the work of the Bar Foundation in improving the administration of justice and the provision of legal services for the State’s citizens. Steve made the following comments in providing his donation to the tax exempt entity, stating that the Bar Foundation ” will put it to good use. I appreciate the good work” done at the Foundation. A very big Thank You to Steve White. Please consider joining Steve in financially supporting the important activities of the Bar Foundation.
GOOGLE LEGAL RESEARCH-
In the past two weeks, the American Bar Association Journal announced that Google has initiated a new technology tool that will provide “legal research for the average citizen—and lawyers, too”. The interesting article is located on the Internet here– http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/google_offers_legal_research_for_the_average_citizenand_lawyers_too