Receive updates and news from our current OAJ president, Bob DeRose
July 9, 2012
It has been two months since I was sworn in and your OAJ Staff, Officers and Board have been busy. Much has been communicated on the various Listserves but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk with the entire membership. The following is an update of all the things OAJ has been doing for you and your clients:
For the fourth straight year, OAJ’S operating budget has finished in the black allowing the organization to continue to fund its reserves that had been previously near depletion. We will also undergo a voluntary audit in the month of July and have our current investment strategies analyzed by a third-party investment advisor.
The Annual Convention again delivered a social atmosphere and top notch presentations. Attendance was over 410 attorneys and we look for this number to grow in 2013. For the first time, OAJ will hold a Winter Convention at the Wyndham on Playhouse Square in Cleveland on November 15th and 16th. Please mark your calendars as many of your favorite OAJ CLE’s will now be a part of the Winter Convention.
Membership has held steady over the course of the last 3 years at just over 1,430 members. With an estimated 6,000 attorneys eligible for OAJ membership we are looking to grow over the course of the next year by 10%. To assist us in this endeavor we have contracted with a marketing and advertisement specialist who will be running the campaign from late this July through September. The goal for this campaign is 100 new OAJ members that have been in practice for two years or more.
Our newly minted Public Relations Committee has hit the ground running. Under the guidance of Co-Chairs Dennis Mulvihill and Jeremy Burnside, the committee has launched OAJ’s website NowIKnowMore.com. This unique website is dedicated to those interested in the truth about what is actually happening in the real world. This site will bring to light the true stories of destructive business decisions, preventable medical errors, and predatory financial practices, among others, and warn that we all need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves, our families, and our communities from those who cause harm. We have spent years debunking items like the "Stella Awards" and this site is the first step in aggressively spreading the word to the public. I would ask two things from each of you: 1) take a moment and go check out the webpage; and, 2) WE NEED YOUR STORIES. Please submit your stories via the website or email to AlisonK@OAJustice.org and any articles, or information that proves the story to be true. The goal is to grow this site rapidly and then move on to stage two that includes an email campaign to spread the word.
Legislative advocacy is the benchmark service the OAJ provides its members and their clients. The Executive Committee, John Van Doorn, Legislative Committee Co-Chairs Bob Wagoner and Paul Grieco, and the Legislative Committee have been very busy dealing with many issues that face us daily. Here are a few issues that OAJ currently:
Ohio Clerks of Court ask the Supreme Court to place the duty to serve Summons on Plaintiff Counsel
OAJ is managing opposition to a change proposed to Civil Rule 4 that would shift the burden for serving a complaint from the county clerk to the plaintiff’s attorney. The Ohio Clerk of Courts Association has submitted the request to the Ohio Supreme Court, where it will be considered by the Commission on Rules of Practice and Procedure. OAJ has registered its opposition to the proposal in the attached letter. At this juncture, no action is contemplated by the Commission. If the Commission reverses its decision and recommends the proposed rule change, the comment period would start in October. No action is needed from you at this time. OAJ is preparing a comprehensive strategy to defeat the proposal. Part of the strategy, if necessary, will include a call to the membership to participate in the comment process.
OAJ considers legal challenge to WC restriction
In an effort to prevent a bill that eliminates lump sum payments to injured workers who have lost a limb, or use of a limb, from becoming law, the OAJ is investigating its options for filing a lawsuit challenging the provision’s inclusion into a massive budget bill without hearings or discussion. This is potentially a violation of Ohio’s Single Subject Rule. OAJ has retained outside counsel to research issues related to this problem and will make a decision once Counsel has issued his opinion. Frank Gallucci, Rich Brian and Eric Cameron, along with the WC Regional Reps. have been on top of this problem from the bill’s signing. More to come.
OAJ sponsors fundraising events for OAJ current and future political champions
One of my goals as President is to consolidate the political power of OAJ’s members. To accomplish this, we have targeted eight legislators and challengers that support our mission and our clients for whom OAJ’s leaders will host political fundraisers. We are combing the money the OAJ PAC has voted to give to these individuals and using it to help seed these fundraisers. The hope is that by having the OAJ PAC’s check delivered at an OAJ fundraiser we will increase the aggregate amount of contributions credited to OAJ without depleting the OAJ PAC.
I want to recognize and thank Tom Myers who hosted a successful event on June 30 in Bellaire for state Senator Lou Gentile. On July 23, Henry Acciani, Anne Gilday and Don Moore have an event planned for state Representative Connie Pillich in Cincinnati. Eric Cameron, Ray Critchett, Sean Harris and Bob Wagoner are sponsoring a fundraiser for state Rep. John Carney in Columbus on August 2. As OAJ President, I am co-hosting each event to show my support for these deserving candidates. The event invitations are attached to this email. Please support one or more of these events in your area. More events are coming in the near future. Please support the OAJ leaders when they ask you to contribute.
OAJ leaders educate candidates on our civil justice system
OAJ Board members are interviewing dozens of candidates running for the Ohio General Assembly, both to hear their views about our 7th Amendment rights and to educate them about specific issues that impact the civil justice system. OAJ prepared a candidate questionnaire for the purpose. After sending the questionnaire to a candidate, Board members are meeting with the candidate to discuss what they read and lobby them on our issues. If you want to meet with a local candidate and would like to use OAJ’s questionnaire, please let me or John Van Doorn know.
Skindell reaches out to OAJ
State Senator Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), the endorsed Democrat candidate running for the Supreme Court against Justice Terrence O’Donnell, met with OAJ leaders before announcing. He asked for OAJ’s support, which we swiftly pledged. Senator Skindell is a trial attorney and an OAJ member. If Senator Skindell campaigns in your neighborhood, please introduce yourself and support him.
That’s all that I have for now. As will be my custom over the next year, I will periodically but at least monthly, correspond with you about what your association is doing for you and your clients. If at any time you wish to speak with me, or any of the OAJ Leadership, please feel free to contact us directly. Remember you elected us to serve you. Until next month….
Robert E. DeRose
Ohio Association for Justice