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Two and a half months after it began, the lawsuit raised by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute against its parent, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is over. William Clark Jr. of Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia, attorney for the plaintiffs, confirmed that he had filed papers June 6 in Orphans’ Court asking Judge Frank X. O’Brien to dismiss the lawsuit. Clark’s clients, the former members of the executive committee of PBI, were ousted by a newly elected board of directors at PBI following the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case under its King’s Bench power. After that action, Clark requested an emergency conference with O’Brien in an effort to stay the new board from removing the six on the executive committee. But O’Brien refused. In his order last Thursday, he called the issue a “corporate governance” matter properly left to PBA and PBI to resolve according to their own bylaws. With that, the new board removed the six officers, who now had no ability to vote for changes within PBI and apparently had no standing to challenge the organization from the outside, given O’Brien’s order. “The members of the former executive committee are disappointed that PBA was unwilling to address the issues raised,” said Clark. “Instead, PBA turned [the suit] into a naked power play for control.” In the beginning of the suit, Clark said, he represented both the six executive committee members and the PBI as an organization. When the PBA requested the Pennsylvania Supreme Court take the case, it raised allegations that this action was never authorized by the full board of PBI. The PBI, in turn, supplied the court with letters representing a “large majority” of the PBI board in support of the action, according to Clark. It was all over when a vote was taken June 2, the day the new officers were elected to PBI. Robert Fiebach, the newly-elected president of the PBI, said a vote was also taken on the litigation, which sounded a predictable death knell for the case: The new board unanimously voted for termination of the litigation. As part of his new duties as president, Fiebach said he sent a letter to Clark asking him to file a praecipe to terminate the lawsuit immediately, which Clark did. Asked whether Drinker Biddle would represent the PBI in any future matters, Clark said, “I assume our representation will have terminated as of the termination of this lawsuit.” When asked to comment on the matter, Fiebach said to his knowledge, Drinker Biddle “never was retained by PBI. They only represented the six people who brought this lawsuit.” PBA President Marvin S. Lieber of Pittsburgh said he was happy to see the action end. “I’m delighted it’s been concluded and concluded favorably to PBA. I’m glad we can move forward to advance CLE in Pennsylvania,” he said. Fiebach said he just has the desire to put the lawsuit behind PBI. “I want us to move on and continue providing what, in my opinion, is the best CLE in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

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