So... Now What?
by James Parks, 2018-2019 OCBA President
Some lawyers like to write. I do not particularly. I do it as part of my job, but I prefer talking (as many of you will likely attest). Regardless, one of the responsibilities of this position is to write the “President’s Page” for LACHES. In that regard, I have decided to: pensa molto, parla poco e scrivi meno. For those of you still interested in Latin, that translates to: think much, speak little and write less. Hence, you will not be blessed with a “President’s Page” every single issue of LACHES this coming year. And speaking of LACHES, it is now digital! You can now read it at your convenience on your tablet or mobile device.
Most of the recent presidents and those coming along seem to have embraced a similar philosophy about the duties of the bar president. Namely, do what we do well and take steps to do it better. Identify and admit where we fall short and work on ways to improve. Anticipate trends and assess how we can serve our members, now and into the future. We need not recreate wheels – nor spin them.
The success of our association, now and in the future, is directly dependent upon our delivery of “value” to our existing and future members. We will point out those benefits of potential value to you and will continue to look for ways to ensure we stay relevant in these days of a constant barrage of socialization on social media, and the zeitgeist of waning membership in associations such as ours. We intend to use improved marketing tools and social media to showcase some of those things the OCBA already does that may enrich your lives and/or careers.
Let’s discuss where we do a good job and where we can do better. We have 32 vibrant and active committees. These committees are the lifeblood of our organization. They serve to enhance knowledge of topics important to their members, and foster networking and social opportunities while helping to build a network of colleagues. If you want to serve on any of these committees, give me a call. To improve the experience of our committee members we intend to pay more attention to the existing (and recently reviewed and revamped) mission statements, blend some committees where that makes sense, and set forth more specific goals, objectives and protocols to ensure each meeting is meaningful, educational or otherwise worthwhile to their members.
We currently offer excellent professional development seminars and CLE events to members. In order to better serve our members, we have expended significant resources to upgrade the technology in the large conference room at the bar office. This room serves as lecture hall, committee meeting space and social events venue. We will continue to bring high-quality and meaningful events, and top-notch educational opportunities.
So, where do we fall short? Among our established goals is to encourage civility amongst lawyers. We can do better. Several years ago, the OCBA promulgated a list of tenets of the principles of civility. Many judges have them prominently displayed in their courtrooms. This year we will continue exploring new ways to educate and impress upon lawyers, old and new, the import and advantages to them and their clients to practice civility.
We must do better at inclusion. Our association does not accurately reflect the breadth and width of our richly diverse legal community. The import of this priority cannot be understated. This is a challenge we should embrace. Nationally, there is groundswell of articles, attention and consideration to this common dilemma. We have a unique opportunity to have the ear of our very own Jennifer Grieco, who will be sworn in next month as president of the State Bar of Michigan. We will explore ways to better attract and serve all the members of our legal community. There are no easy answers nor solutions to this problem. I am optimistic that we can make headway if we dare to have the uncomfortable conversations that will start the process of fully integrating our association with all those folks currently not aptly represented in it. I hope to facilitate that dialogue this year.
We also need to be certain we stay relevant in the future, identify and capitalize on those things that are of “value” to our members, and continue to serve members in the way they wish. Will our association be “virtual” 15 years from now? Yes, if that is what our members want and need. We must be resilient in our thoughts as we grow with the pace of changing technology. It appears those now using social media do not place the same value on “pressing the flesh” with judges and colleagues as more seasoned attorneys. If we wish to grow, we must recruit new members. The number one reason given for joining a bar association is that the individual was asked (or strong-armed) into attending events. Why not ask or convince someone you know, maybe someone “different” from you, to attend one of our top-notch events … they may just want to join!