November 17, 2017 Dialogue

Learnings from the LRIS Annual Workshops

By Laurin' C. Roberts Thomas

I have been manager of the State Bar of Michigan Lawyer Referral Service for just over three years. As a first-time attendee of the ABA's Annual LRIS Workshop, I'd like to share with you my takeaways from the workshop:

  • As a listserv member, it was wonderful to meet everyone and put faces to the names we see in our emails all the time.
  • LRIS'ers are a dedicated group, very caring and invested in the growth of their programs.
  • The Nuts & Bolts program was very informative and definitely worth the extra day. As a first-timer, fairly isolated and new to the game, learning about other programs, how they operate differently from my own program, and getting ideas for changes/improvements in my program's operation was really helpful.
  • Some items that I'll seek to implement in my program are those that look to involve LRS panel members in various ways to encourage their investment in the program, which can only enhance what we do. I especially like the idea of substantive training/updates to LRS staffers by panel members and input regarding practice areas.
  • As an African American female, I found the implicit bias training informative and difficult to sit through. There were highlighted statements that just made my gut churn as I saw them, particularly as I have heard them all, frequently, throughout my life. Again, wouldn't it be nice if instead of implicit bias we emphasize implicit diversity?
  • David Eaton's session on social media was very informative. I can't wait to utilize some of the tracking techniques that he spoke of in providing us with his "secret formula."
  • It was interesting from my perspective as an attorney manager, that many, if not most of the participants, were not attorney managers. There were also non-attorney managers, non-attorney staff members, as well as attorney panel members in attendance. It was refreshing to hear their different viewpoints.
  • The participation and input from the technology vendors was invaluable. It is one thing to have them off in a room by themselves hoping that someone will stop by their tables, but including them as an integral part of our discussions was a fabulous idea.
  • Socially, it was a great group of people. From the reception at the historic music hall of Lola's, to hanging out in the bar/restaurant watching the end of the World Series and other sporting events, to just plain getting to know everyone—the camaraderie was amazing.
  • The program was so packed with good positive topics that there was no opportunity to go out for daylight sightseeing until after the final session on Saturday (believe it or not).
  • Lastly, I was able to cross one thing off my bucket list. Prior to this workshop, I had been to forty-six out of forty-eight continental United States, all but Oregon and Washington. After the last session, my husband and I hopped an Amtrak into Washington State to Vancouver so that I could finally say that I have been to all forty-eight continental United States.

All in all, it was far more than I expected and a worthwhile, informative event from beginning to end. If you missed it this year, I strongly recommend that you don't make the same mistake next year.

Laurin' C. Roberts Thomas

LRS Manager, State Bar of Michigan

Laurin' C. Roberts Thomas is the LRS manager at the State Bar of Michigan. She can be contacted at (517) 346-6335 or lcthomas@michbar.org.