Your State Bar Staff

A Closer Look at the People Behind the Bar’s Programs and Departments

by Angela Bergman

Melva Boelter has been an important part of the Publications Department for over six years. In that time, her role has evolved from that of a proofreader to that of a full-time desktop publisher. Melva now spends her time coordinating the articles and page layout for several section, committee, and local and special purpose bar newsletters. Her goal is to put the newsletters together as quickly as possible while making them appealing to the eye and easy to read.

Melva works closely with the individual newsletter editors, who recruit the articles and decide on the content of the newsletters. Once the editors send the content to the Publications Department, Melva helps coordinate the order in which the articles should appear, selection of artwork to coincide with the articles, and selection of fonts and colors to make the newsletter look its best.

What Melva has come to enjoy most about her job is "making the pieces fit." It’s almost like putting together a puzzle, Melva says, to make the newsletters flow together and get all of the information to fit in a logical place in the limited space available. In addition, she finds it exciting to see the results of her work, to watch as a plain text article is transformed into something that catches the eye. It’s also important to her to feel that she is making a contribution to the members of the sections and committees she works with. "I give them the information they need quickly and in a variety of forms that suit their preferences."

Smiling, Melva admits that outside of work she is a "mouse potato." She is truly a lifetime learner and spends much of her spare time taking night classes in various subjects that catch her interest. She particularly enjoys developing her computer skills, both through classes and playing on the computer on her own, to find shortcuts and new ways of doing things. She spends many evenings working with her husband, Bob, helping him develop ways to automate his work.

"I really like my job," Melva says. "I’ve seen more positive changes in the operations of the Bar in the past few months than I had in the past several years. The Bar is becoming an even better place to work." Of her future goals Melva simply says, "More of the same, only better."

Another of the State Bar’s long-time employees, Becky Harold is familiar with many aspects of the organization. Becky first came to the Bar as a co-op student in high school and served in the Lawyer Referral Department. After graduation, she pursued a job outside of the Bar, but when a position opened the following year, she was happy to return. For the past seven years, Becky has been with the Finance Department, where she is currently a senior administrative assistant helping to make sure that the day-to-day financial operations of the Bar go smoothly.

Becky’s duties focus primarily on accounts payable. She pays the bills for the State Bar, the sections of the Bar, the Attorney Grievance Commission, and the Attorney Discipline Board. She also shares accounts receivable duties with Kim Johnson. Her work with the sections is one of her favorite parts of the position and Becky believes her strong customer service skills make her a good fit for that role. "I really enjoy getting to know the section members and working with the treasurers," she says. "I like the personal contact that comes with that part of my job."

In addition to her accounting duties, Becky works on meeting registration for both the State Bar and individual sections. "I collect money for the section seminar registrations and work closely with the section council to let them know how many people have registered for different events." Her next major project will be working with Annual Meeting registration, both pre-registration and on-site registration. She has worked closely with the Publications Department to create what she hopes is a clear and simple registration form and is gearing up for the registrations to start coming in.

Becky’s main focus right now is balancing the demands of work with the planning of her August wedding to fiancé Joel Hunter. She is looking forward to "the big day" so that they can return to a more normal routine, which usually includes heading north for camping or going to the movies. She also looks forward to her continued work in the Finance Department and to tackling new projects as they arise.

While Becky likes the daily routines of her position at the Bar, she also enjoys the extra projects that occasionally come up. "I’ve been here long enough," she says, "to really know and understand my job. I like that I can come in and prioritize my day, but I also like the learning and development that comes with new projects." With the recent addition of a new member of the Finance Department, Becky is confident that the Department is strong and efficient. "Our Department just fits together," she says, "and we all work well together to get everything done."

Judy Hershkowitz is the senior administrative assistant for the Open Justice Department, which deals with diversity issues and the presence and impact of bias on the courts and the legal profession. The department helps to assure that the public has confidence that they will find unbiased treatment within the legal system. Judy believes that if "the public feels they cannot receive impartial treatment in the court system where their rights are supposedly protected, they will have little respect for the bench and bar."

The Open Justice Commission is the main focus of the department at this time. The Commission consists of 12 committees and over 35 projects aimed at the reduction or elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. As the only full-time employee of the department, Judy plays a key role in assuring that communications between the members of the Open Justice Commission go smoothly and in keeping the various projects of the Commission organized, so Commission members can concentrate on reaching their goal of the fair delivery of justice for all in our state.

No stranger to the law, Judy uses her knowledge and respect for the justice system to aid her in the performance of her current duties. Building on a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, Judy went on to be trained at the Institute for Paralegal Training in Philadelphia, becoming one of the country’s first paralegals. She has used that training to work for several Michigan law firms, including Plunkett Cooney in Detroit, and Farhat, Burns & Story and Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis & Gotting, both in Lansing. While Judy enjoyed her time as a paralegal, she believes she has found a home with the Open Justice Department. "This job," she says, "allows me to combine my skills and concerns with issues that I consider important. Working in an area where I feel so strongly about the issues and working for Lorraine Weber, whom I respect and admire as both an attorney and a person, make this job one I truly enjoy."

Outside of work, Judy is a dedicated wife and mother. She and her husband, Paul, have raised two daughters who are both attending college. Daughter Ann is studying at the University of Michigan and Mary is attending Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Of her family, Judy explains, "All parents love their children, but I truly like mine as well. The joy of my children is that they are now good friends and are really interesting, wonderful people."

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