The Connecticut Bar Association has almost 70 legislative matters that it's hoping to turn into new law or keep from seeing the light of day.
Eight of the measures are initiatives of the CBA itself, and some 61 items are positions taken by one of the 18 CBA sections that have been endorsed by the CBA.
"We're happy to have a very active role in the legislative process," said Kimberly Knox, the CBA's president-elect and a partner at Horton Shields & Knox in Hartford. "Much of the legislation is recognizing the needs and interests of Connecticut constituents, whether corporate or individuals."
The agenda items typically have a three-year life, and either pass or expire. The one new position taken by the CBA this year is its opposition to a measure allowing non-attorneys to sell title insurance, which would remove a unique Connecticut law.
Items from 2012 that remain on the CBA's agenda include a bill to provide enhanced penalties for the unauthorized practice of law by suspended or disbarred lawyers, non-attorneys and paralegals. The bar group is supporting publication of an online database of state agency regulations, on the agency's website, as published in print in the Connecticut Law Journal.
A new recommendation, from the Business Law Section, is a bill to create "benefit corporations" in Connecticut. Historically, corporations' charters and corporate case law embrace the idea of maximizing shareholder profits as a key corporate purpose. John Lawrence Jr., of Shipman & Goodwin, is the chair of the Business Law Section, which favors the model law.
Some corporations, like Newman's Own, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, make a point of having socially generous objectives. That, said Lawrence, can be a weakness in the event of a hostile takeover or merger attempt. "Rumor has it," he said, this threat was used in the successful effort to force Ben & Jerry's to go public. The "benefit corporation" concept is relatively new, and has only been adopted in about a dozen states, Lawrence said. In addition to making a profit, a "benefit corporation" would have a corporate purpose to "create a material positive impact on society and the environment." Officers and directors could consider the interests of "nonfinancial stakeholders" as well as shareholders, Lawrence said.
A version of the measure, not as well-developed, was vetoed by Gov. Malloy last year, Lawrence noted.
Some legislative initiatives are important in helping lawyers of all practice areas.
That's the case with a measure to require that online publication of state law and regulations by the state be designated "official" and that it is maintained in a reliable manner.