GOVERNANCE & BYLAWS SECTION
Welcome to the section devoted to the Rhode Island Bar Association Governance and ByLaws. Choose from the options below to navigate this section:
The Rhode Island Bar Association is a unified bar to which all attorneys licensed to practice in the state, belong. As of May 2016 we have 5,418 active members and 1065 inactive and out-of-state members bringing our total to 6,483. There are currently 158 Associate and/or In House Counsel Memberships. The total of all membership categories is 6664.
An elected House of Delegates meets quarterly and an Executive Committee, which meets monthly to govern the Association.
The Law Center is located at 41 Sharpe Drive, Cranston, RI 02920.
The Bar Center provides a venue for a number of Association services, activities and meetings, houses the Bar staff and is available to members for meetings. Office hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
The Association holds an Annual Meeting in June. The "Bar year" runs from July 1 through June 30. In fulfilling its stated purposes, the Bar's programs and activities are designed to serve the needs and interests of the membership, the public and the administration of justice.
The Rhode Island Bar Association publishes the Rhode Island Bar Journal, a bi-monthly news magazine featuring articles and important information for our members. Articles on current legal issues and news about the Association are in the Journal and available on this web site.
Standing and special committees direct much of the programming of the RI Bar Association. Standing committees are created by the Bylaws for the investigation and study of matters relating to the accomplishment of the general purposes, and business of the Association.
Committee members are appointed by the incoming Bar President and serve for one-year terms, which may be renewed. View more information on our committes by visiting the following sections:
Annual dues for:
- Active members having been admitted five years or more are $225
- Inactive members pay $140 annually
- Inactive out-of-state members pay $140 annually
- Members admitted less than five years pay $140 annually
- Voluntary judicial members' annual dues are $140
- In-House Counsel dues are $125 annually
- Associate Member dues $125
- Honorary members, having reached the milestone of 50 years of bar membership, have fully abated dues.
- Law Student member dues are $50 annually
- In addition, all members are required to pay an annual assessment of $25.00 for the Client Reimbursement Fund except Honorary Members and out-of-state inactive members.
ARTICLE I - Name
Section 1.1. Section 1.1. This Association shall be called the RHODE ISLAND BAR ASSOCIATION.
ARTICLE II - Objectives
Section 2.1. The objectives of the Association shall be to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution and laws of Rhode Island and to maintain representative, democratic government; to advance the science of jurisprudence; to promote the administration of justice; to uphold the honor and dignity of the process of law; to apply its knowledge and experience in the field of the law to the promotion of the public good; to encourage and cultivate social intercourse among the members of the Rhode Island Bar; and to cooperate with the American Bar Association, other national, regional and state bar associations and the local bar associations in the State of Rhode Island.
ARTICLE III - Members
Section 3.1. All persons who are admitted to practice law in the State of Rhode Island shall thereby become members of this Association; subject in each case to due compliance with the requirements of membership. Residence in Rhode Island shall not be a condition of eligibility to membership.
Section 3.2. All matters concerning the regulation of the practice of law, admission to practice, discipline and disciplinary procedures shall continue to be vested exclusively in the Supreme Court of the State of Rhode Island in accordance with the inherent powers of said Court.
Section 3.3. The membership of this Association shall be divided into three classes known respectively as "active" members, "judicial" members, and "inactive" members.
The class of active members shall include all members of the Rhode Island Bar except the judicial and inactive members. The class of inactive members shall be limited to those persons eligible for active membership, but who are not engaged in the practice of law in Rhode Island and have filed with the Secretary of the Bar written notice requesting enrollment in the class of inactive members. Full time judges and retired judges who are eligible on temporary judicial assignment and are not engaged in the practice of law shall be classed as judicial members. Any inactive or judicial member in good standing may change his or her classification to that of an active member by filing with the Secretary of the Bar a written request for transfer to the class of active members. Any member who has been admitted to practice in Rhode Island more than fifty (50) years shall be an honorary member for life, and at his or her request, excused from dues.
Section 3.4. The amount of Association dues for the three classifications, and assessments shall be fixed from time to time by the House of Delegates.
Section 3.5. Resignations, Suspensions and Expulsions. No member of this Association shall be suspended or expelled except in accordance with the inherent powers of the Supreme Court covering attorneys and counselors.
Any practitioner admitted to practice law in Rhode Island can resign from membership upon written application to the Executive Committee that he or she no longer wishes to practice law in Rhode Island and no longer wishes to be a member of the Association. Acceptance of this application by the Executive Committee will remove the person's name from the membership rolls and no dues will be charged thereafter. Should that person request reinstatement at a later date, such reinstatement will be possible upon payment of the current year's dues and a reinstatement fee to be determined by the Executive Committee. All dues and fees can be cancelled or adjusted for good cause shown.
In the event a member shall allow his or her dues to be in arrears for a period of sixty (60) calendar days, said member shall be notified in writing by certified mail, addressed to said member at his or her latest given address on file with the Supreme Court advising said member that unless said arrears are paid in full within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of said notice, the name of said member shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court requesting that said member be suspended from the practice of law.
In the event the Supreme Court shall order the suspension of said member, he or she shall not engage in the practice of law in this State until said arrears have been paid in full and the Supreme Court has acted favorably on a petition by said member for reinstatement.
ARTICLE IV - House of Delegates
Section 4.1. The control and administration of the affairs of the Association shall be vested in a House of Delegates representative of the profession of law in Rhode Island, provided however, that:
- The House of Delegates may not take any action contrary to the provisions of these By-Laws or contrary to or inconsistent with action previously taken by the membership at a meeting thereof duly called and held, and
- Except as previously determined by the membership or the House of Delegates, the Executive Committee shall have full power in the control and administration of the affairs of the Association between meetings of the House of Delegates.
Section 4.2. Membership. The House of Delegates shall be composed of the following:
- Eighty elected delegates, chosen as provided in Article VIII.
- The elected officers.
- The immediate past president.
- Five (5) former Presidents of the Association, chosen as provided in Article VIII.
- The Editor-in-Chief of the Rhode Island Bar Journal.
- The Rhode Island delegates to the American Bar Association House of Delegates
Section 4.3. Districts. The elected delegates shall be elected from the members of the Association whose official addresses are in the geographical districts of the state as follows:
- District 1: Newport County
- District 2: Washington County
- District 3: Kent County
- District 4: Bristol County and East Providence
- District 5: Providence and North Providence
- District 6: Cranston, Johnston, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, Smithfield
- District 7: Pawtucket, Central Falls, Lincoln, Cumberland
- District 8: Burrillville, Woonsocket, North Smithfield
Section 4.4. The official addresses of members for the purpose of determining the number of and the election of delegates shall be:
- A member in active practice at the location of his office. A member who has more than one law office may notify the Secretary in writing which office shall be his or her official address but unless and until such notice is received, the official address shall be whichever office is his or her mailing address for Association purposes.
- Judges of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Superior Court, Family Court, District Court and United States Courts, all other full time judges of any other courts, and full time commissioners of the Workers' Compensation Commission and other full time judicial or quasijudicial officers at the location of their residences in Rhode Island.
- Other full-time public officials at their residences in Rhode Island.
- Except as provided in subsections (a), (b), and (c), all other members at their residences in Rhode Island, but if they have no residences in Rhode Island, they shall have no official addresses for this purpose unless and until they respectively designate such an address in Rhode Island by written notice to the Secretary,
- For the purpose of this Article the official addresses of the members shall be determined at the beginning of the fiscal year of the Association.
Section 4.5. The eighty (80) elected delegates shall be apportioned annually among the eight districts in accordance with the number of members whose official addresses are within the territorial limits of such district, but no district shall have less than two (2) delegates.
Section 4.6. The House of Delegates shall hold its annual meeting for the election of elected members of the Executive Committee and for other business between June 15 and June 30 as determined by the President Elect and at such meetings shall elect from among its members six (6) members of the Executive Committee. The House of Delegates shall hold regular meetings at least quarterly. Such meetings shall be held at such place and hour as shall be determined from time to time by the House of Delegates, or, in the absence of such determination, by the Executive Committee; but if no such determination is made, such meetings shall be held at a time and place determined by the President. The House of Delegates shall hold special meetings whenever such meetings are called by the President, the Executive Committee, or by written petition of ten (10) members of the House of Delegates, or fifty (50) members of the Association.
Section 4.7. All committees of the Association shall make written reports to the membership at the annual meeting and at such other meetings as may be required by the House of Delegates or the Executive Committee or deemed by the committees to be appropriate.
Section 4.8. The House of Delegates shall be the policy making body of the Association; and no committee of the Association shall speak in its name without prior authority of the House of Delegates except that such authority may be exercised or granted by the Executive Committee where time is of the essence.
Section 4.9. A quorum of the House of Delegates shall be thirty (30) provided that no resolution shall pass unless it shall be approved by at least 20% of the full membership of the House of Delegates and a majority of those present.
ARTICLE V - Executive Committee
Section 5.1. The Executive Committee shall consist of the elected officers, the immediate past President, the Editor-in-Chief of the Rhode Island Bar Journal and six (6) members at large elected by the House of Delegates from among its members.
Section 5.2. The Executive Committee shall manage the affairs of the Association between meetings of the Association and of the House of Delegates, and shall have authority to exercise all of the powers of the Association, subject to the By-Laws, and to prior determinations by the membership and by the House of Delegates.
Section 5.3. In matters of sufficient importance, the Executive Committee shall call special meetings of the House of Delegates or poll the members of the House of Delegates or the members of the Association.
Section 5.4. The Executive Committee shall hold regular monthly and additional special meetings at such time and place as it shall determine.
Section 5.5. Minutes of each Executive Committee meeting are to be mailed to each member of the House of Delegates promptly after each Executive Committee meeting.
Section 5.6. At any meeting of the Executive Committee, one (1) or more members may participate in a meeting by means of telephone conference or similar communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can communicate with each other at the same time. Participation in the meeting pursuant to the foregoing sentence shall constitute the presence of a person at such meeting.
ARTICLE VI - Officers
Section 6.1. The officers of the Association shall be a President, a President-Elect, a Treasurer and a Secretary.
Section 6.2. The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Association. He or she shall preside at all meetings of the Association, the House of Delegates, and the Executive Committee. He or she shall fill vacancies in committees of the Association occurring during his or her term of office and shall appoint the members of committees created during his or her tenure of office as President. He or she shall, at the annual meeting, in writing, make such report of the activities and other matters of the Association during the preceding year as he or she may deem desirable and in such report shall make such recommendations for future action of the Association as he or she may determine to be in its best interest.
Section 6.3. The President-Elect shall perform all of the duties of the President in case of the absence or disability of the President and shall succeed to the office of the President on July 1, in the year following the year of his or her election. The President-Elect shall appoint all committees of the Association to serve during his or her term of office as President, obtain acceptances, and report the same at the annual meeting prior to his or her assumption of office as President.
Section 6.4. The Treasurer shall supervise the finances of the Association, shall collect, receive, hold and disburse all monies and evidence of property as directed from time to time by the House of Delegates or the Executive Committee, shall submit his or her accounts for appropriate audit and shall report concerning the financial operations and status of the Association at the annual meeting of the membership. The Treasurer shall have general charge of the financial affairs of the Association and shall perform such other duties as may be required of him or her by the House of Delegates or the Executive Committee. The Treasurer shall cause the Association�s records to be audited annually by a certified public accountant and shall cause the report of such audit to be presented to the Executive Committee for review and consideration within a reasonable time following the end of the Association�s fiscal year. No certified public accountant or organization associated with such certified public accountant shall audit the records of the Association for more than five consecutive fiscal years. During the absence or disability of the Treasurer, the Executive Committee shall delegate his or her powers and duties to any other member of the Executive Committee.
Section 6.5. The Secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings of all meetings of the Association, the House of Delegates and the Executive Committee. He or she shall issue notices of all meetings, and all other notices required under the By-Laws; and in case of special meetings shall include in the notice thereof a brief statement of the business to be transacted. He or she shall keep a correct list of the names and official addresses of all members of the Association. During the absence or disability of the Secretary, the Executive committee may delegate his or her powers and duties to any other member of the Executive Committee.
Section 6.6. The House of Delegates may appoint such other officers and assistants to the officers as may be deemed necessary or appropriate from time to time; and in case of emergency the Executive committee may make like appointments until the next meeting of the House of Delegates.
Section 6.7. During his or her term as an Officer of the Association, he or she shall not publicly comment in the any way regarding the fitness or suitability of any person seeking any judicial office. The term �publicly� as used herein shall include publication of any written or oral communication to any public body or officer engaged in a judicial selection process or permitting any statement concerning the qualification of the judicial candidate to be transmitted to such officer or body.
Section 6.8. Indemnification � The Association may indemnify any officer, director, committee member, employee or agent of the Association whose conduct meets the standards described in RIGL S7-6-6(b)(1) as from time to time amended.
ARTICLE VII - Professional Staff
Section 7.1. There shall be a professional staff to serve the Association, the House of Delegates, the Executive Committee, the officers and the members in all matters of common interest to the members of the Bar of Rhode Island.
Section 7.2. The director of the professional staff shall be the Executive Director who shall be elected by and serve at the pleasure of the Executive Committee subject to appropriate contractual arrangements regarding tenure and retirement as may be made from time to time.
Section 7.3. There shall be such other professional, clerical and other employees as the House of Delegates or the Executive Committee shall determine from time to time. All such other employees of the Association shall be subject to the direction of the Executive Director.
Section 7.4. The Executive Director and the staff shall be responsible for and perform such duties as shall be assigned to them from time to time.
ARTICLE VIII - Meetings and Elections
Section 8.1. The annual meeting of the Association shall be held on such date during May or June and at such hour and place within the State of Rhode Island as shall be fixed and determined by the Executive Committee; but in case of failure by the Executive Committee to make such determination, such annual meeting shall be held on the third Monday of June at such hour and place in the State of Rhode Island as may be determined by the President.
Section 8.2. Special meetings of the Association shall be called by the President whenever he or she shall deem such special meetings necessary or desirable and whenever he or she is requested so to do by the House of Delegates, the Executive Committee, or by written petition of fifty (50) members of the Association.
Section 8.3. Notice of all meetings shall be sent by mail to all members, or published in the Rhode Island Bar Journal, at least seven (7) days prior to the date of the meeting.
Section 8.4. At any meeting of the Association, the presence of twenty five (25) members shall be necessary to constitute a quorum, but any less number may adjourn to a day specified.
Section 8.5. The officers of the Association, former Presidents of the Association, as members at large of the House of Delegates, and delegates from the several districts (except in case of counter nominations as provided in Section 8.9) shall be elected at the annual meeting. If there is more than one candidate for an office, there shall be a written ballot for that office and the candidate receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected. The officers and members at large of the House of Delegates shall enter upon their duties on July 1 following the annual meeting and shall hold office until the following June and, if necessary thereafter, until their successors are elected.
Section 8.6. At all meetings of the Association, the House of Delegates and the Executive Committee, procedure shall be governed by the current edition of Roberts' Rules of Order.
Section 8.7. There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of twelve members to be appointed by the President. Four members shall be appointed for a 3-year period; four members shall be appointed for a 2-year period; four members shall be appointed for a 1-year period. Each year, the duly elected President of the Bar Association shall nominate four new members to serve a term for a period of three years. Each year the President shall select one member to serve as Chairperson for that one year. At all times, all five counties of the state shall be represented on the Nominating Committee by at least one member whose official address is in each county of the state. The Nominating Committee shall nominate candidates for election as officers, as members at large of the House of Delegates, from among the former Presidents, and as delegates from the several districts to serve during the ensuing year. The Nominating Committee shall report its nominations in writing to the Secretary at least sixty (60) days before the date scheduled for the annual meeting. The Secretary shall mail notice of all nominations to all members not later than sixty (60) days before such date.
Section 8.8. Counter nominations for officers and the members at large of the House of Delegates from among the former Presidents, may be made by written nomination signed by not less than fifty (50) members of the Association and filed with the Secretary not less than forty (40) days before the scheduled date of the annual meeting.
Section 8.9. Counter nominations for delegates from the several districts maybe made by members whose official addresses are within the territorial limits of such districts by written nominations filed with the Secretary not less than forty (40) days before the scheduled date for the annual meeting signed by either one-fourth (1/4) of the members whose official addresses are in such district or by fifty (50) such members, whichever is the smaller number.
Whenever there are more nominated candidates for election as delegates than a district is entitled to, the members from that district shall vote by mail ballot. The candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected. Ballots shall be mailed by the Secretary in such manner that the voting will be secret to all members whose official addresses are within the district, not less than thirty (30) days before the scheduled date for the annual meeting, and shall be returned to the office of the Association not less than ten (10) days before such date. The President shall appoint three (3) tellers from the three separate districts to count the ballots; and the tellers shall count the ballots and file a written report of the result with the Secretary in time so that the same maybe announced at the annual meeting for the election of officers. In the event of a vacancy in the House of Delegates, the President shall be empowered to appoint a qualified member to fill such vacancy.
ARTICLE IX - Sections
(Eliminated at Annual Meeting, June 19, 1981).
ARTICLE X - Committees
Section 10.1. The House of Delegates shall establish such standing, special, temporary or other committees of the Association as it shall determine from time to time and shall determine the extent of the authority and responsibility of such committees, the number of members thereof, and in the case of temporary committees the time when such committees shall be required to take action and report thereon.
Section 10.2. The House of Delegates shall establish such committees of the House of Delegates as it shall determine from time to time for the appropriate conduct of its affairs.
Section 10.3. The Executive Committees shall establish such special or temporary committees as it shall determine from time to time.
Section 10.4. Appointments to all standing and regular committees and, unless otherwise specified, to all other committees shall be made by the President-Elect for the ensuing fiscal year or by the President for the balance of the current fiscal year. Except as otherwise specifically provided by the House of Delegates, the members of all committees shall serve until the end of the fiscal year and until their successors have been appointed.
ARTICLE XI - Publications
Section 11.1. The Rhode Island Bar Journal shall be published by the Board of Editors of the Rhode Island Bar Journal, the members of which shall be appointed by the President-Elect. The Editor-in-Chief shall be appointed or re-appointed for annual terms beginning on July 1.
Section 11.2. Other publications of the Association may be issued after prior approval by the House of Delegates.
Section 11.3. The Rhode Island Bar Journal and all other publications shall be subject to the supervision and control of the House of Delegates and/or the Executive Committee. The House of Delegates may establish rules for such publications.
ARTICLE XII - Seal
Section 12. I. The seal of the Association shall be circular in form and shall have inscribed thereon "Rhode Island Bar Association, 1898".
ARTICLE XIII - Fiscal Year
Section 13. I. The fiscal year of the Association shall begin on the first day of July in each year and end on the last day of June in the succeeding year.
ARTICLE XIV - Amendments
Section 14.l. These By-Laws may be amended by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members present at any meeting of the Association, provided that at least twenty (20) members vote in the affirmative. Notice of the proposed amendment shall be given in the notice of the meeting at which action is taken thereon; and such notice shall be given by mail or by publication in the Rhode Island Bar Journal at least twenty (20) days before the date of the said meeting.
Section 14.2. The following sections of these by-laws may be amended by either two-thirds (2/3) of the members present at any meeting of the Association, provided that at least twenty (20) members vote in the affirmative, or, by the affirmative vote of a majority of the entire House of Delegates at any meeting provided notice of the proposed amendment shall be given in the notice of the meeting in which action is to be taken and such notice shall be given by mail at least ten (10) days before the date of the said meeting: Sections 3.3; 4.3; 4.4; 4.6; 4.7; 6.5; 6.6; 6.7; 8.1; 8.6 and all of Article XI.
NOTE: These Rhode Island Bar Association Bylaws were updated effective July 1, 2008