Meeting educates lawyers on law changes, new filing system
The Greater Ashland Beacon / July
BELLEFONTE Local members of the Kentucky Bar Association gathered this week in Russell and Bellefonte. Part of a series of annual updates in progress across the state, local lawyers gathered to learn about recent changes in Kentucky laws and collaborate on new public outreach programs being sponsored by their professional association.
The two-day meeting covered a wide variety of topics from the roll out of Kentucky’s new electronic filing system to recent Kentucky Supreme Court decisions.
Kentucky lawyers are required to attain continuing education hours each year in order to maintain their state licenses. These events serve a great purpose for bar members. By offering regional events any that choose to attend can complete their requirement for the year,” said local attorney John Vincent. One of two Kentucky Bar Association Governors elected to represent the 7th District, which stretches along the eastern-most portion of the state. “
Kentucky Bar Association President William E. Johnson, of Frankfort, attended events to meet local attorneys and speak about the organizations annual agenda. Johnson, who has practiced law for 55 years, said the most significant changes Kentucky lawyers will face in the coming years is the rollout of Kentucky’s electronic filing system.
Still in development, the new system will significantly change the way lawyers in Kentucky file legal paperwork and how members of the public will interact with the courts. Most lawyers, Johnson said, are ready to make the switch and have experience using federal e-filing system.
Johnson said he would be working with legislative officials during the upcoming General Assembly session to adequately fund the state’s judiciary. In recent years, the state has underfunded the system, which could have serious long-term consequences when it comes to recruiting and retaining judges. “Judges haven’t had a raise in eight years and they are underpaid compared to other states,” he said. “We need good lawyers to make good judges. If you we don’t fund them, we aren’t going to get them,” he said. Without competitive salaries, those good lawyers may stay in private practice rather than move to the bench and take a pay cut.
Johnson also spoke about his vision help Kentuckians in need.
He believes Kentucky lawyers can and should do more to help the state’s large population of recently returning and aging veterans. He is working to set up committees across the state to get the word out that there are attorneys willing to do free legal work for those with serious needs.
He cited the number of recent returning veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder as being among those most in need of legal representation.
“I want the bar association to be active in taking care of our vets,” said Johnson, noting many attorneys don’t spend as much time as they should doing pro-bono work for Kentuckians in need. He wants to change that by engaging more lawyers in “activities that help the public in need.”