Three things to talk to you about this month: a great event, a thank you, and some medicine. Let's start with the great event.
I am excited to announce
that the HSBA annual fundraiser dinner will be sponsored this year by the Hawaii State Bar Foundation, and will take place on August 24, 2013 at the Hawaii Convention Center's Rooftop Ballroom. Robbie and Cindy Alm have graciously agreed to co-chair this year’s dinner and so many of our HSBA leaders and members have volunteered to help out that this promises to be an unforgettable evening. The theme for this year’s dinner is "The Spirit of ALOHA" and the dinner will honor the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye and retired Senator Daniel K. Akaka. If you have not already done so, please mark your calendars and plan to attend. Consider this my personal invitation and request. It will be a wonderful event and one that I hope you will not miss.
This year would have marked the 60th year of Senator Inouye's membership in the Hawaii State Bar Association. We are grateful that we are able to honor the life and legacy of Senator Inouye. As a national hero and leader, Senator Inouye served the nation honorably and courageously. Through the years, he gave many generations of Hawaii attorneys a chance to serve in Washington D.C. and instilled in these fortunate individuals his deep sense of pride in public service, high standards of work ethic, and respect for the law.
While not a member of the HSBA, Senator Akaka's contributions to our state as a Congressman in the United States House of Representatives and as a three-term U.S. Senator are immeasurable. As a U.S. Army veteran and former educator and public school administrator, he embodies the HSBA's goal of civility in the pursuit of justice and fairness. We acknowledge both senators for their contributions to Hawaii and our Nation.
I anticipate that many of our neighbor island members will want to attend this event, and I know that doing so poses a financial burden far beyond just buying a ticket or table for the dinner. For this reason, this year we will be offering neighbor island members a special event ticket price and we look forward to seeing you here and enjoying the evening with you. This year’s dinner will benefit the Supreme Court Oral Argument Project by helping to fund the HSBA’s assistance to private and public school students attending oral arguments similar to the events the Court has held at Farrington High School and on Maui. Oral arguments hearings are being planned for Hilo, Kona, and Kauai by the Chief Justice and the Court. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the HSBA annual dinner will be used to provide financial assistance to legal service providers for their respective access to justice projects in our communities.
Second, Law Week wrapped up a little over a week ago with volunteers manning free legal clinics at locations in communities all over Oahu and each of our Neighbor Islands. Many of our attorneys gave of their time and expertise to attend these clinics and meet with people to provide free legal information regarding issues that include bankruptcy, divorce, child custody, elder care, employment law, real property and probate matters. The HSBA Young Lawyers Division, led by Jeffrey Kent, sponsors Law Week and coordinates all the activities that week which includes the free legal clinics and Action Line. Action Line is a call in legal information service where attorneys volunteer their time to help answer legal questions from the general public regarding different topics. The topics are different each day and this year, Action Line covered: Consumer Protection/Bankruptcy/Foreclosure (Monday); Family Law/Custody/Divorce (Tuesday); Estate Planning/Elder Law (Wednesday); Employment Law/Worker’s Comp/Wrongful Termination (Thursday); and Property Law/Landlord-Tenant (Friday).
On behalf of all of us at the HSBA, allow me to extend a great thank you to the YLD and all of those involved in making this year's Law Week activities such a success. And this thank you also extends to all of those who volunteered their time to man the legal clinics and Action Line. Your time and your effort, one-on-one with people, many of whom may have never had a conversation with a real attorney, helps demonstrate who we are and the good that we can do in our communities. I hope that you feel the experience was meaningful and maybe even enjoyable. And I hope that you encourage others to volunteer a bit of their time when these opportunities arise. A little bit of time by each of us makes an extraordinary difference.
Finally, you are going to have to take a bit of medicine. You, and I am using that term loosely as I know this will not apply to all of our members, failed on something. You didn’t get back to me when I asked for your comments on certain proposed rule changes. In particular, the Supreme Court is seeking to amend Rules 11 and 17 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, which rule changes relate to the management of client funds and client trust accounts. When we asked for your review and comment, you said nothing. Not one comment, suggestion, proposed revision, or indication of concern. Zero. Not one letter, email, text, tweet, Facebook message, or Instagram photo. So, the HSBA Board, as your representatives, responded to the Supreme Court by the stated deadline and indicated that we had received no comment and took no position. It was only after the deadline and our response that I started hearing from attorneys and groups of our members that there are real concerns about these proposed rule changes. Many of you have or are trying to send comments and letters directly to the Judiciary now, and I encourage anyone with concerns to do so. However, by failing to get us your comments and concerns in time, we as an organization missed the opportunity to comment directly and to meaningfully respond as the Bar to the Supreme Court's request. That is unfortunate, particularly on something as important as a change in the rules governing our obligations relating to client funds.
So here is my request. Read (quickly skim if you want) what we send to you and take care to look at proposals and comment requests that come from the Judiciary. This is your opportunity to say something and we listen and pass on your comments to the Supreme Court. We at the HSBA take great care to screen what we send you and to carefully limit the number of e-mail blasts we send, and the content of those e-mails, so that we don’t bother you with superfluous, repetitive messages or advertisements. We do not sell your e-mail addresses and we do not give them out to advertisers. What we send you is, I believe, worth a minute of your time to at least review and consider. Doing that, and commenting when these opportunities arise, will ensure that our collective voices are heard. I know that there is tendency to hit the [delete] button and just assume someone else will look it over and respond. We have all done that. The problem is, as was demonstrated by this most recent proposed rule change, way too many of us are doing that. As your representative, I need your input on these matters so I am asking you to help us ensure that rule changes like these do not pass by without comment and critique due to our collective failure to respond.
As always, mahalo and a hui hou.
- Craig P. Wagnild, HSBA President
I'd like to thank all the volunteers for another successful law week. We were able to host walk-up law clinics throughout the state and partner with KHON's Action Line to provide legal information to those in need. In the past three years that I have been serving on the YLD it has always amazed me that so many of our attorneys in the HSBA generously give their time to serve the community.
In somewhat bittersweet news I will be stepping down as president of the YLD because my wife and I are relocating. Thank you to the YLD board and HSBA for this great opportunity and best of luck to incoming president Malcolm Barcarse.
- Jeff Kent - Young Lawyers Division President