March 1, 2012

From the Top: If You Build It, Will They Come?

The Spring Meeting of the Senior Lawyers Division in Vancouver was a success in every way but one. We had fine meals in a beautiful city, stimulating discussions, and a well attended meeting of our Council, with a number of our members participating by telephone. We  had an outstanding program on elder abuse, chaired by Ruth Kleinfeld. 

However, few of our members attended the meeting in person. The SLD is not unique in having difficulty attracting members to its meetings. The time and expense of attending meetings in person has become prohibitive for many members of the ABA. Thus, for those who want to participate in our discussions, educational programs, and other activities without traveling to meetings, we are constantly adding capability and content to our website, including the ability to use social media to explore areas of mutual interest.

The SLD website is now capable of handling discussions of issues of interest to our members, and we have volunteers who have agreed to lead discussions of women’s issues, books, health topics, and leisure activities. Only one thing is missing: participation. A monologue is not a discussion. Each of topics requires active participation by our members if it is to be meaningful and of interest. Will you participate in these discussions? Are there other topics you’d like to discuss? If so, please let me know by e-mailing me at bmann@ so that we can involve you in getting these dialogues started.

We have also decided to improve our ability to provide valuable content to our members by expanding our electronic publications. Henceforth, we will be publishing two online publications, Elder Law e-News, devoted entirely to matters of interest to lawyers specializing in elder law, and the Senior Lawyers Digest, which will focus on issues of personal interest to senior lawyers. Both of these e-publications require active participants to write columns and provide content. We need members to serve on their editorial boards. Please help us succeed in these efforts by letting Malinda Allen, chair of our Periodical Publications Committee, know that you’re willing to become a member of the editorial board of either of these two e-publications. She can be reached at

We have the capacity to provide meaningful and informative content to all of our members, not just those who are able to attend our meetings in person. The technology is there. It has been built. The question now is, will they come. I hope the answer is yes.

No matter how successful our efforts to provide vicarious SLD participation are, as those who attended the Vancouver meeting will testify, there is no substitute for getting together in person with old and new friends. We are continuing our efforts to expand our travel program and to make attendance at our meetings more valuable and more enjoyable. Each year, participation in our Supreme Court trip, featuring an admission ceremony followed by a reception at the Supreme Court attended by members of the Court, is a highlight for all who attend. Although when you receive this issue  of  Voice  of  Experience  it will be too late for you to participate in the June 3–4, 2012, trip, mark your calendar and plan to participate next year. 

Another great opportunity for personal participation will be at the ABA Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. Although the official SLD meeting is scheduled for August 3–4, our incoming chair, Ed Schoenbaum, has arranged a special treat for those of you who can arrive by Thursday, August 2. Ed has single-handedly organized an elder law program on the afternoon of August 2, from 1:00–5:00 p.m., that is cosponsored by the Chicago Bar Association Elder Law Section and the Illinois State Bar Association’s Senior Lawyer Section. This program will not be publicized in the ABA Annual Meeting schedule because it will be held at Jenner and Block rather than at one of the convention hotels, but information about it will soon be posted on our website, The website will also describe other opportunities for you to get together with other members of the Senior Lawyers Division, including our annual reception and dinner, Thursday, August 2, 6:30–9:30 p.m., at the University Club of Chicago.

I hope you will join us