From the Chair...

Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service

I appreciate being given this opportunity to introduce myself. I am John C. Norwine, the new Chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on LRIS. I was a practicing attorney in Cincinnati for many years before becoming the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Bar Association (CBA) in 1995. The CBA has operated an LRIS since 1943, and our LRIS has been ABA approved for many years.  I am firmly committed to serving both our attorneys and the public through LRIS systems, and hope that our committee will continue to provide a valuable service to every LRIS in the country.

Unfortunately for me, I am stepping into a pair of large shoes in succeeding Sheldon Warren as Chair of the committee. Sheldon is as knowledgeable as anyone in the country on LRIS issues, and he has successfully driven our committee forward for many years. If there is a “giant” in the LRIS world, Sheldon fills that role. Fortunately, for our committee and for me personally, Sheldon has agreed to continue to be a resource to the committee and to help out in the future. That assistance, coupled with the outstanding staff support we receive from Jane Nosbisch and Jason Vail, will allow us to continue to be the excellent resource that the committee has always been.

ABA President Bill Robinson sent a letter this past month to virtually every state, local and specialty bar association in the country in which he stressed the partnership between the ABA and these other bars. This partnership assists all of the other bars in providing value to their members while supporting the efforts of attorneys who serve the public. No committee in the ABA provides more direct value to the state and local bars than the LRIS Committee, as we assist attorneys in improving their practices while providing access to justice for the public that might not be available without the LRIS. Simply put, we are there to support our attorneys and the public in a way that no one else is.

I want to close with my impressions of the LRIS Workshop that was held in New Orleans in October. While I had attended a Workshop about ten years ago, this was my first one as Chair of the committee, and it gave me a different view of the activities. It truly is a Workshop, not just a conference, as those in attendance did not just listen to the proverbial "talking heads." It was interactive, comprehensive, and a great learning experience for both experienced and new LRIS employees and others. And, after looking at all of the evaluations, those in attendance were just as impressed with it as I was. I have no doubt we can duplicate these fine efforts at next year’s conference in Las Vegas. I hope that many of you reading this column will be able to attend.