Fred Ury picked up the latest “future of the profession” report produced by a state bar association to land on his desk, tossed it in with a stack of others, and sighed.
“‘We have a problem, Houston.’ That’s what they all say,” explains Ury, a lawyer, a past president of the Connecticut Bar Association and National Conference of Bar Presidents and a tireless agent for change and adaptation in the legal profession. “The question is, now what do we do? We are not coming up with the business model of the new legal practice. But other people are.”
Yes, he says, it’s important for bar associations to recognize problems in the profession—both local and global—and to form task forces and committees to explore ideas for lawyers and bars to adapt and thrive in the future.
But what about following through on task force recommendations? Expanding the roles of committees? Investigating changes in long-standing rules and legislation? Involving more bar members in the discussion?
Coming up with effective responses and reactions to such reports and task forces is still very much a work in progress for many bar associations, Ury and others believe. While forming a “futures” task force or releasing a report can generate a buzz at the bar, continuing the momentum can be challenging, they say. But it is a necessary next step if individual bars, and the profession as a whole, are to successfully embrace—or at least confront—the changes that many believe are necessary to keep lawyers and their associations relevant in the years ahead.