Plenty to look forward to in coming months

February 2, 2018
President’s Message By Hal Coffey

While attending the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting with county and state bar leaders from across the commonwealth, I hear one question over and over – “So, how’s your year going and what’s in store for the rest?” In answering that time and again, I figured this would be a great time to update all of you on some specific items we are working on for the remainder of my term as ACBA president.

We continue to advocate the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, PA Disciplinary Board and CLE Board to institute an emeritus status for attorney registration. The purpose behind this designation is to give retiring attorneys an outlet for using the skills they’ve acquired over the years to help increase access to the courts for indigent persons. Details still are being worked out for this program, but our points of advocacy include the need to keep any registration fees low and to minimize the CLE requirements for such emeritus attorneys as they will be working on a limited basis under the supervision of legal services and related existing entities.

The ACBA lease for our space in the Koppers Building expires at the end of 2020, so we have taken a proactive posture to both examine the association’s needs and where to best fulfill those needs in the most economical and practical way. Our ad hoc committee reviewing the leasing situation ordered a spatial-analysis study, which is in the process of being finalized. In it, we will see the needs of our staff along with meeting spaces and get a footprint for what we need and want going forward. One of the major components is to secure flexible meeting space that serves our numerous sections, committees and divisions as well as co-working and social spaces.

By the time of publication of this column, we will have had the first meeting of our new sponsorship subcommittee under the auspices of the Finance Committee. ACBA Treasurer Jim Mall and I enacted this subcommittee with a three-fold purpose: brainstorming for new non-law firm sponsors for events and the ACBF; assist committees, divisions and sections in finding industries interested in connecting with their membership and keeping an eye on the exclusives granted to sponsors in certain sectors to achieve maximum benefit for members.

As the AOPC public-access policy has recently come into operation, we have heard from members in various areas of practice about their concerns with implementation and compliance. With stories of difficult experiences with filing and access – both online and in-person – to necessary documents, I have convened an ad hoc committee led by Immediate Past President Melaine Shannon Rothey to compile these anecdotes and work with the Department of Court Records and staff to tweak the practice and balance the Allegheny County implementation to both serve the overall purpose of protecting the information of litigants with the ability of ACBA members to provide access to justice for their clients.

Looking further out, I am extremely excited for the ACBA Bench-Bar Conference in June. Bench-Bar Chair Bryan Neft and the entire Bench-Bar Committee have been planning innovative programs and events for this year, including a TED Talks-style main program examining the numerous aspects of the Pennsylvania medical marijuana law on many practice areas including labor and employment, banking, criminal law and real property. And the continued mix of litigation, alternative dispute and transactional CLEs yields plenty for practitioners of every stripe. And this year, maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a few more people join me for the president’s run on Friday morning. Hey, a guy can dream.