Your State Bar Staff

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


by Angela Bergman

Jenifer Epkey has been with the State Bar since 1997 when she started as a temporary employee in the Access to Justice Department. In December of that year, Jenifer transferred to the Publications Department and has been working her way up ever since. Jenifer was recently promoted to key operator of the Docutech, the massive printing machine on which various newsletters, announcements, and booklets are created. In addition to running the Docutech, Jenifer also does desktop publishing.

As the primary operator of the Docutech, Jenifer is responsible for the coordination of print-on-demand jobs, from organizing mailing lists and print quantities, to choosing and ordering paper, to making sure that the projects are completed and mailed on time. "Some of the members may not know about our print-on-demand services," Jenifer explains, "but those sections and departments that do use the Docutech for their publications get competitive rates on a professional desktop publishing and printing service. We have the capability to do almost any kind of print job. We have just added a new color printer to our printing services and are now able to do color jobs."

This time of year is one of the busiest for the print-on-demand service, and Jenifer is preparing for the influx of Annual Meeting materials that will soon be laid on her desk. "I like the pressure that comes with this job," she admits. "I enjoy the challenge of meeting deadlines; it keeps me on my toes." Jenifer also enjoys the variety that her role affords her. Because of the desktop publishing aspect of her position, she is able to exercise her creativity, and her work with the Docutech ranges from keeping the mechanical aspects of the machine running smoothly to programming the machine to insert, staple, fold, and print correctly.

Jenifer believes that her "go-with-the-flow" attitude makes her a good match for this position. "In this job, you have to be prepared for last minute changes and the constant little emergencies that come up. You can’t let them frustrate you or slow you down."

 

The Access to Justice Development Campaign has recently grown by a factor of one. John Huebler joined the ATJ Campaign team, filling the position of campaign associate. The ATJ Campaign, a partnership of the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, and the Legal Services Association of Michigan, seeks to secure and increase funding for providers of legal services, who are the critical component of a fair and effective civil justice system.

The ATJ Campaign is currently focusing on four methods of fundraising. First, they are working to recruit "leadership gifts" A "leadership gift" is a substantial gift donated by a single attorney with the idea that "If I do it, maybe others will follow my example." Second, the campaign is working to solicit corporate donations. Third, the campaign is actively seeking monies in the form of foundation donations. It is in this area that John specializes. "A large part of my job," John says, "is researching what foundation money is available, finding out the interests of each foundation, and then matching those interests to a legal service provider in the state." Finally, annual donations in any amount are always appreciated.

With a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Michigan State University, his background in fundraising for the Lansing Area AIDS Network, and his work with various nonprofit organizations, John brought a wealth of experience to this position. "I was excited when I saw the advertisement for this position," John says, "it was an opportunity to do the things I am good at for a cause that I believe in."

While he does focus on fundraising, John also has the opportunity to put his communication skills to work. He is the campaign liaison for the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo regional campaigns, he produces the campaign newsletter three times per year, and he maintains donor and volunteer communications through campaign updates. "I really like working with the volunteers through the campaign," John explains. "I get to talk about the campaign and why it’s good for Michigan." "Our motto," he adds, "'Justice for some is no justice at all' is something I truly believe in."

 

Carrie Peplinski’s claim to fame, at least on the State Bar of Michigan level, is that she is one of the original employees of the e-Journal, one of the Bar’s daily e-mail newsletters with concise summaries of the most recent court opinions. Carrie was initially attracted to the publishing aspect of the position, to the idea of such an innovative project, and to the enthusiasm of Dan Kim, creator of the e-Journal. As the editorial assistant to the award-winning e-Journal, Carrie is responsible for making sure that it gets built, that all of the links work correctly, and that it gets sent to all its subscribers in a timely manner.

Carrie is involved in almost every aspect of the e-mail newsletter. She works closely with the e-Journal editors to make sure that cases get summarized; once that is done she builds the HTML and e-Journal- on-the-Go versions and oversees the creation of the plain text versions. She also maintains the subscribers lists for both the HTML and text version of the e-Journal. "The e-Journal is very popular with our members," Carrie explains. "We not only provide easy access to summaries of recent cases and links to the full text of those opinions, but we do it for free. A comparable service offered by another company would cost attorneys hundreds of dollars a year."

"We are always looking to make the e-Journal even better," Carrie says. Recent innovations to the e-Journal have included the Greensheets On-line, an area of the State Bar website where the cases are available, and the e-Journal- on-the-Go, a version of the e-Journal accessible on PDAs. A concerted effort is also being made to create a version of the e-Journal that is compatible with America Online software.

In addition to her role with the e-Journal, Carrie was recently promoted to website content administrator. In this capacity, she helps to assure that the information on the State Bar’s website is current and accessible. As part of the maintenance of the website, Carrie deletes information as it becomes out-dated, adds new information to already existing pages, works on improving the layout of existing pages, and is the contact for sections and committees wishing to have changes made to their areas of the website. This new role will provide Carrie with the opportunity to express her creative side, something that she worked hard to develop as an English and Film major at Michigan State University.



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