This is my last president’s column, and I have enjoyed having a forum to write about matters of interest (hopefully) to lawyers and members of the Kansas Bar Association. I trust from time to time, some of you, at least once in a while, appreciated what I had to say. And I want to thank those of you who took the time to tell me. And for those of you who didn’t like what I had to say, didn’t agree with me, or just didn’t find it interesting, I especially want to thank you too for not pointing that out!
It has been a great privilege and honor to serve as President.
It has been a busy 12 months for the KBA, and I believe they were productive ones. It is not possible to list everything the KBA has been doing, or all changes that have occurred. But there have been many. In Law Practices Services, we launched on-demand CLE programming and conducted our second annual Solo and Small Firm Conference in May. We once again partnered with Sean Carter, one of the keynote speakers from last year’s annual meeting, for another webinar series. Our Board of Publishers selected new editors, and new handbooks are now on the way, including employment law, basic will drafting, and alternative dispute resolution, among others. The Law Office Management Assistance Program has continued to grow, as has the size of the KBA’s lending library and the number of member consultations provided.
In Public Services, the demand for public service pamphlets continues to grow, and the KBA is meeting that need. The Law Related Education Committee has put together a packet that includes lesson plans, scripts, and giveaways (including pocket Constitutions) discussing the Constitution. Those packets have been used with much success by judges, attorneys, and teachers. The "On Your Own” (high school) and "For the Record” (middle school) pamphlets have been updated, and "On Your Own” is now available in Spanish as well. Our inaugural Pro Bono Summit was held last December.
A major accomplishment was bringing Lawyer Referral Service in-house and the employment of Dennis Taylor as its director. Many positive changes have occurred as the KBA focuses on our LRS program, making it more meaningful to the public, as well as to the attorney panel members.
There are plenty of challenges ahead for our association. Challenges, however, that I am confident we will embrace and meet.
In Legislative Services, Joe Molina, our legislative services director, issues the "KBA Advocate” via the KBA weekly, every week the Legislature is in session. Joe has a blog that members can log into and read at http://www.ksbar.org/advocate. In Member and Market Services, we have seen the largest membership renewal in many years. We have added CaseCheck+, in addition to CiteCheck and Casemaker Digest to the suite of legal research software that comes free of charge with a KBA membership.
The Board of Governors created three new committees: one to look at membership, one to look at the annual meeting, and a strategic planning committee. The KBA was a member of the Judicial Evaluation Coalition that provided voter information for the most recent retention elections and conducted broad membership surveys about reasons for joining the KBA, IOLTA, and the Journal. The KBA also helped facilitate a survey regarding the state of legal education in the United States. The annual meeting format was changed last year and was held in September, rather than the traditional month of June. The annual meeting remains a focus of the KBA Board, and as mentioned above, a special committee has been formed to continue to analyze and consider its future.
The above undertakings are of course in addition to the countless other services the KBA regularly provides its members and the public. CLE remains a large part of what the KBA does, as well as lobbying and legislative services. This last legislative session was quite a challenge in light of the proposed legislation aimed at changing the method of selecting our Supreme Court justices, as well as legislation and issues surrounding the judicial budget and our courts. Many of our members testified and contacted legislators regarding specific pieces of legislation, and I thank all of you who did. I expect these issues and efforts by some in the legislature and the administration will continue and remain as issues in the foreseeable future.
My term as president has gone by fast, or at least it has for me. I can’t speak for the Board, KBA staff, or anyone else who had to put up with me during the last 12 months. It has been a great privilege and honor to serve as President. I believe the KBA is one of the best professional associations around. We are a voluntary bar. Members choose to join, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to each of you who do. I fully realize there are many places one can spend their "dues money.” There are many professional organizations we can choose to join. I am a member of several, and they are all worthwhile and important. Many compliment each other, and the KBA works cooperatively with our specialty and metropolitan bars. We should support them as well. As attorneys, we need to come together in professional associations for the good of our profession and our own professional development. If you are a KBA member, then once again, thank you. If not, I urge you to consider joining. I earnestly believe it is money well spent, and will not only benefit the KBA, but you as well.
Finally, I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t thank the many people who have provided so much help, encouragement and support during the last 12 months. I want to thank the Board for their commitment to the KBA, and their help and support during my term as president. We have an excellent Board, and there is no shortage of participation in what we have undertaken and are seeking to accomplish. I don’t recall ever asking or calling upon a board member to do something and have them say no. They spend many hours not only in attending Board meetings or participating in conference calls, but in preparing for meetings, remaining informed, and helping carry out the functions of our association.
Like any professional association, we cannot exist or function without our staff. We have one of the best. I appreciate our executive director, Jordan Yochim, and thank him for his help and assistance in so many ways. I appreciate his knowledge and information, his providing me guidance when I have needed it (which is often), and even those gentle reminders when I have not timely done something I should have done. Collectively, all of our staff is what makes the KBA what it is. They work diligently to accomplish their work, and to promote the KBA. I thank all of them for their hard work, support, and the work they do. I also want to thank our Section and Committee chairpersons for their efforts on behalf of the KBA, and want to thank the executive committee and other KBA officers. Our association is in good hands with President -elect Natalie Haag ready to assume the office of president, and with Steve Six becoming president-elect; Greg Goheen, vice president; and Bruce Kent, secretary-treasurer.
Last, but not least, I want to thank my firm for allowing me the opportunity to be away from the office a bit more than normal (OK, maybe a lot more) and my wife, Janice, who has supported and encouraged me during my term as president. There are plenty of challenges ahead for our association. Challenges, however, that I am confident we will embrace and meet. Thanks again to all who support and make the KBA the excellent professional association it is.
Originally published in The Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, vol. 84, no. 6, pg. 6 (June 2015).