Law Improvement Program
2021 Legislative Session
The Oregon State Bar Law Improvement Program is an avenue for Bar sections and committees to participate in the legislative process. Law improvement legislation includes proposals to clarify statutory ambiguities, to modify unforeseen “glitches” in major legislation passed in previous sessions, and to codify case law as necessary.
The Public Affairs Department is available to assist all OSB Sections and Committees with bill tracking. As part of that process, Public Affairs staff reviews all bills introduced during a legislative session, and will refer bills to groups that we feel might be interested. Contact your Section or Committee chair in regards to what bills your section has asked to be tracked.
OSB Sections and Committees have the opportunity to provide input on a legislative issue as well as take a position on proposed legislation. If your Section or Committee would like to take a position, please complete the form provided at the link below and submit it to the Public Affairs Committee through Susan Grabe, OSB Public Affairs Director. Proposals must receive approval from the Public Affairs Committee on behalf of the Board of Governors before a section or committee may take any action. If any questions arise, please contact the Public Affairs Department.
OSB Board of Governors Public Affairs Committee
The Public Affairs Committee of the Board of Governors oversees the work of the program, and makes recommendations to the Board of Governors on legislation and public policy issues.
The Board or its Public Affairs Committee sets priorities regarding legislation & public policy. In so doing, the Board will make a reasonable effort to do the following:
- Encourage as wide a participation of the membership as possible;
- Formulating positions on legislative & public policy issues;
- Inform members of the Bar's legislative & public policy positions;
- Respect divergent opinions of subgroups within the legal profession;
- Provide assistance to bar sections and committees;
- Avoid committing bar funds to issues that are divisive or create factions within the profession;
- Present major issues to the House of Delegates for approval.
2021 Public Affairs Committee Members
Katherine Denning, Chair, Salem
Ryan Hunt, Vice-Chair, Salem
Gabe Chase, Portland
Joseph Hesbrook, Bend
Curtis Peterson, Portland
Joe Piucci, Portland
Michael Rondeau, Roseburg
David Rosen, Bend
Susan Grabe, Staff
Oregon State Bar Public Affairs Staff
Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer
Public Affairs Administrative Assistant
Public Affairs Overview
Program Mission Statement
The Public Affairs Department is committed to serving the public interest by regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services & supporting the judiciary and improving the administration of justice.
The Board of Governor’s Public Affairs Committee develops the policies that guide the department’s work and recommends positions the bar should take on public policy issues affecting the bar and the legal profession.
With the oversight of the Public Affairs Committee, the Public Affairs team provides information and assistance to bar groups, bar members, and government bodies on a wide variety of bar-related legislation and public policy issues facing the profession, with special emphasis on access to justice and preserving the independence of the judiciary. The Public Affairs team works closely with OSB sections and committees on law improvement legislation and to identify responses to significant legal trends that affect the practice of law and the bar.
Legislative Session Guidelines
The Public Affairs Committee is committed to serving the public interest by regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services & supporting the judiciary. To that end, the Public Affairs Committee supports the following legislative goals:
- Protect the public, the administration of justice and the rule of law.
- Create meaningful access to justice and provide information about the law, legal issues, and the civil and criminal justice system.
- Make Oregon laws more consistent and more uniform.
- Improve the ability of attorneys to competently serve the interests of the citizens of the state.
- Support a fair and effective criminal justice system.
- Ensure efficient, competent, and ethical delivery of legal services.
- Promote the protection of privileged and confidential information while promoting access and education regarding public records.
- Provide appropriate information and assistance regarding ethical issues to legislators, especially legally trained legislators.
- Improve the juvenile justice system and encourage better coordination between the different components of the system.
- Foster diversity, equity, and inclusion among legal service providers and in the justice system.
Public Affairs Policies
What is the Keller Rule?
In 1990, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 US 1, 110 SCt 2228 (1990) that an integrated (mandatory) bar's use of compulsory dues to finance political and ideological activities violates the 1st Amendment rights of dissenting members when such expenditures are not germane to the bar's purpose, which the court identified as regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services.
Keller prohibits integrated bars from using member dues to advance political or ideological positions that are not germane to the bar's purpose; but if such speech occurs, the member may seek a refund of the member dues expended on that activity.