A Fresh Start

    July 12, 2013 1:40 PM by Molly Kilmer

    Posted 7/12/2013 by Karyn Linn

    After reading a recent blog post titled 7 Secrets for Successful Board Meetings, I was reminded that many bar associations welcome new officers and board members during the summer months.  In fact, the Division for Bar Services updates more officer records in our database in June and July than any other time of year.  If you are one of the many bar associations installing or preparing to install a new class of bar leaders this summer, here are some resources to help make sure everyone gets a fresh start to the new year. 

    If you (or a representative from your association) recently attended the ABA Bar Leadership Institute, a copy of the New Bar President and Members of the Board, is close at hand.  This leadership handbook offers advice and guidance for bar leaders embarking on their leadership journey.  It addresses the most frequently asked bar leader questions as well as best practices for the nonprofit community.  The publication is succinct and also shares wisdom, tips and cautionary tales from both elected and staff leaders.   

    Leaders thrive best when they know their roles and responsibilities, and goals are clear.  Visit the division’s online Governance Guide to get ideas for planning your next board orientation session, communicating board member roles and responsibilities, and advancing your association’s strategic plan. 


    And yes, meetings do matter!  In addition to the post referenced above, the ABA Section of Litigation’s Sound Advice podcast on Meetings that Matter will help ensure your association’s meetings are time well spent and not just a necessary evil.  Nan Joesten, Principal, Rapid Evolution LLC will give you 10 tips on how to lead and participate in productive meetings.


    Be sure to visit the Division for Bar Services Online Resource Pages for more tips on how to help your bar leaders get a fresh start to the new year.  If you have any fresh ideas at your disposal, please share them with us. 


    One Day Only

    May 10, 2013 3:29 PM by Molly Kilmer


    Posted 5/10/2013 by Molly Flood


    When I logged into Facebook during my train ride to work, I was reminded that yesterday was not any random Thursday.  It was my alma mater’s (Saint Mary’s College) 24-hour Alumnae Donor Challenge. An anonymous donor promised to donate $50,000 to the college’s annual fund if at least 500 other alumnae made contributions on May 9th.  The development office took this challenge seriously and promoted the event via email, mailed postcards and numerous social media postings.  A Twitter hashtag (#bellesgiveback) was circulated and Facebook page was created. Happy hours were planned in select cities to encourage dontation. All of their leg work seems to have paid off. Not only did 901 alumnae donate $106,565 in one day, but it kicked off a Saint Mary’s love fest on social media. Friends promoted the event, shared inspiring graphics, posted the video and talked about their love of SMC.


    When the goal was reached in the early evening, I felt a true sense of accomplishment and pride. Saint Mary’s pulled off the double trick of raising a large amount of money in day and energizing their alumnae donors.  These types of donor challenges are all the rage in collegiate circles, but they would be quite effective for any size bar foundation. This article provides background about a similar challenge put on by Skidmore College and serves as an effective how-to for any charitable foundation that would like to put on a similar event.  Raise money and turn a random work day into a love fest for your organization. It sounds like a winning fundraising model to me.


    Rocking to Change

    April 24, 2013 1:56 PM by Michael Ward

    Posted 4/24/2013 by Maggie Bieniek

    Last Thursday, I woke up with a river in front of my house. It was almost seventy degrees outside and my neighbor was barefoot and knee-deep in rain water trying to rescue his drowning car. It was just a matter of time before the weather changed to sunny with a massive temperature drop. What we can learn from Mother Nature is that change is constant and inevitable. We have to learn to roll with the punches.


    In my case, the flooding forced me to stay home where I tackled my reading list. I started with Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, which was provided to BLI attendees and staff over a month ago. After scanning some of the chapters, it is evident that the professional world is also very much like the weather. Every day, we deal with changes, uncertainties, and concerns about time. One minute everything is dry and sunny and the next there is a massive flood because of forgotten deadlines, a crashed network, or a dip in non-dues revenue. All of these more minor interruptions come amidst a crisis in the legal profession and constantly advancing technology. To combat the onslaught, we need to take action. In Bregman’s words, instead of not rocking the boat, we need to “Rock on”. What is your association doing to rock the change? Updating your membership model? Starting a new program? Investing in social media? We’d love to know. Email barservices@americanbar.org


    Tapping the Brakes

    April 17, 2013 4:04 PM by Molly Kilmer

    Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon has shaken us to the core. Our hearts break for deceased and the injured. The past few days have reminded us of the courage of first responders, that disaster preparedness is vitally important and that acts of kindness and generosity often follow these horrific tragedies.


    Along with these silver linings, an unfortunate lesson has been learned. In an era of ceaseless social media and a 24/7 news cycle, our news media is frequently getting the story wrong. At many NABE Meetings and the recent ABA Bar Leadership Institute, we are reminded that effective social media requires frequent postings and a quick turnaround time. Let’s continue to embrace this technology but vow to never sacrifice accuracy in pursuit of a rapid response.  Our members require us to be a trusted source of news. Let’s remember that people do not care who was first with the story, but they do remember who was wrong.

    2013 ABA Bar Leadership Institute: Tweet all about It

    April 1, 2013 1:12 PM by Molly Kilmer

    Posted 04/01/2013 by Molly Flood


    There’s been a recurring theme over the past few meeting of bar leaders. Time. Simply put, there’s not enough of it. We’re working more hours, commuting longer distances, but our personal lives are as busy as ever.  Mary Byers has already addressed how the time deficit is impacting professional associations. Peter Bregman’s keynote presentation at the 2013 ABA Bar Leadership Institute expanded on that theme. He showed us how we can better structure our days to accomplish more with our extremely limited time.


    It’s in the spirit of Bregman’s “18 Minutes” time management approach that I provide this succinct summary of this year’s BLI. Get thee to Twitter. A quick review of posts using the #BLI13 hashtag provides an excellent taste of the conference.  See how participants summarized Verna Myers’s suggestions about inclusive organizationsGet practical tips on speaking to the media from Bruce Hennes. Learn some sobering facts about the changing legal profession from Deborah Epstein Henry and Marta-Ann Schabel.  Twitter can’t and shouldn’t replace the experience of two days of intense learning and networking, but sometimes life only allows enough time for us to read the sound bites.

    2013 ABA Bar Leadership Institute Primer

    March 12, 2013 1:02 PM by Molly Kilmer

    Posted 03/13/2013 by Molly Flood


    Tomorrow marks the start of the 2013 ABA Bar Leadership Institute. The ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and the Division for Bar Services are putting the final touches on this year’s program. We’re excited to welcome you to Chicago for 2 days of extensive training on how to effectively lead bar associations. Here are some last minute tips that will enhance your 2013 BLI experience.


    • Register Early:  Avoid the lines on Thursday morning and register on Wednesday from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  As an added bonus, early registrants will receive one free drink ticket to Wednesday’s welcome reception and are entered into a raffle to win one of two Visa gift cards.

    • Download the app: The Division for Bar Services has again partnered with Kittay New Media to create a first-rate mobile experience for BLI attendees. The 2013 BLI App is a practical meeting guide with direct links to program descriptions, room locations and meeting handouts.
    • Access the App at: http://knmsites.com/bli/
      To use on your smartphone or tablet:
    • Step 1.  Open this website in your smart phone or tablet browser
    • Step 2. Bookmark the page
    • Step 3. Select the option to save the page to your home screen


    • Read the meeting program: Start planning what governance and communications workshops you’d like to attend.  Peruse the meeting handouts to get a sneak peak at some of the programming.


    • Get on social media: Twitter will be buzzing with live tweets throughout the BLI. The hashtag for this year’s meeting is #BLI13. If you’d like to sharpen your social media skills, Friday’s workshops include a session on Social Media Basics and one for more advanced users.


    • Questions on site: Please look for the Registration Desk and the DBS Resource Table on the 7th floor.  The entire Division for Bar Services staff will be on site, and we are happy to answer any and all questions.


    Check back here next week for a recap of the key events from the 2013 ABA Bar Leadership Institute. You can also follow the action in real time at the Division’s twitter feed: @ababarservices.


    Help without Hassle

    February 28, 2013 11:16 AM by Molly Kilmer

    Posted 2/22/2013 by Molly Flood


    The best lesson I’ve learned since the day my twins were born is to accept all offers of help. This was especially the case when I returned to the hospital a week after my initial discharge. People wanted to help, but it was overwhelming to keep track of the many offers of assistance. That’s when MealTrain came to our rescue. Meal Train allows your friends and family to sign up for time slots to bring food. It’s a tool that takes the hassle out a general offer of assistance into a hot dinner on the table.


    The MealTrain model is a natural one for bar associations to emulate. As I've written before, the organized bar is a community that can and should help one another during difficult times. Louisiana’s SOLACE program is a prime example of how this can work.  When a member of the state’s legal community suffers a tragedy, SOLACE helps coordinate office assistance, child care, meals or whatever the family may need. SOLACE provides the infrastructure to allow your members to quickly help their colleagues in need. This program's simple yet effective model has now been adopted by the State Bar of Nevada and the Nebraska State Bar Association. Tap into the generosity of your members and make sure that volunteering is never an onerous task. Let’s work to develop systems and programs that help our members give back with a minimum of stress.

    Questions to Make Meaning

    January 24, 2013 10:06 AM by Michael Ward

    Posted 1/24/2013 by Elizabeth Derrico


    I looked up and it was the third week in January. How did it happen that we are careening headlong into the NABE-NCBP-NCBF Midyear Meetings with the Bar Leadership Institute following very soon after? No doubt about it, time got away from me as we kicked off 2013. You can see it in the paucity of blog posts and in the receipts to be filed. Time is our one non-renewable resource. Once we’ve spent it idly flipping through the latest celebrity gossip sheet or sitting in a meeting that goes nowhere, we can never get it back. It is true for our organizations as well.


    Questions of strategy revolve around how we are spending our time. As many of our associations head into budget season, it is a good time to reflect on how we are aligning our mission, vision and values to serve our members and the profession. My colleague Julie Deacon, executive director of the Maine State Bar Association posted a link on her Facebook  page to these questions. They will help shape the next 49 weeks both for ourselves and for our organizations. How will you have a year that matters?


    In Defense of the Defenders

    January 14, 2013 10:07 AM by Michael Ward

    Posted 1/14/2013 by Tori Jo Wible (Guest Blogger)

    All lawyer jokes aside, and I’ve heard them all, one of the things that makes me the proudest of our profession is lawyers protecting the rights of the most hated clients.  One of my heroes is John Adams, not just because of his position as a founding father, or because he looks a lot like Paul Giamatti, but because he defended the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre; a truly difficult position, even without a 24 hour a day news cycle.


    In our society, pro bono counsel frequently take on unpopular clients, such as the lawyers representing detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.  However, the modern-day John Adamses are the public defenders.  The indigent criminal defendant is often an unlovable client.  The fundamental role of the defender is to ensure that the client’s rights are protected.  The three parts of the criminal justice system – the judiciary, the prosecution and the defense – must all do their jobs effectively for the system to work.  All too often, public defenders are overwhelmed with impossible caseloads, unmanageable timelines and dwindling budgets. 


    What does any of this have to do with bar leaders?  Plenty. Bar associations can help courts avoid the breaking point. Find out how at the Indigent Defense Summit at the ABA Midyear in February. Buck Files, President of the State Bar of Texas and a criminal defense attorney, will be one of several high profile speakers discussing what bars can do to solve the crisis.


    This year is the 50th Anniversary of the landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. The promise of Gideon remains unfulfilled; come learn what you can do to help. The Summit runs all day Saturday, February 9, but the sessions most relevant to bar leaders are in the afternoon.  ABA President, Laurel Bellows has been invited to discuss how the private bar can help public defenders meet the promise of Gideon.


    Tori Jo Wible is assistant staff counsel for the ABA's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. Reach her at tori.wible@americanbar.org.


    Are You Violet or Are You Martha Levinson?

    January 7, 2013 3:04 PM by Jennifer Lewin

    Posted 1/7/2013 by Jennifer Lewin


    I confess to being one of the many who scheduled her evening around Downton Abbey last night. And besides witnessing Mary and Matthew’s wedding (finally) and enjoying a reunion with the ever-quotable Violet, I was struck most by the episode’s pull between tradition and change. Most of us spend a good bit of our work lives negotiating that tension. As I reflect on it, I spend most of mine tracking the innovative, and frankly I tend to give traditions pretty short shrift. Maybe it’s because we have just come through the holidays, but I realize I need to change that.


    There are so many traditions our bars carry out that members continue to value. I think about the bar memorial services that honor attorneys who have passed. These are events local bars have held for decades, and they consistently rank at the top in member surveys. Or it’s the sometimes raucous bench-bar gatherings or the annual crawfish boils where lawyers and judges socialize and interact on equal footing. But what do we do when attendance starts to dwindle or members start to complain about the “old way” that an event is handled? How do we respond? Are we the intractable Violet? Do we want to burn it all down like Martha Levinson? Or are we taking the time to identify what’s valuable in our traditions and occasionally reinterpret them to make them more meaningful to ourselves, our members and our communities? My personal resolution for 2013 is to find a bit more of that middle ground.  


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