Jan L. Tableman: 44th President of the Michigan Lawyers Auxiliary

For 44 years, the Michigan Lawyers Auxiliary has done an outstanding job of carrying out its educational and charitable missions throughout the state, and I feel very privileged to serve as the organization’s president for 2000-2001. The state and local auxiliaries already have many rewarding programs in place and many more opportunities to serve awaiting them. However, our single biggest challenge is the recruitment of adequate "people power" to support new programs, as well as to relieve our many long-term members who have spent literally decades staffing existing programs. It is my goal this year to develop unique strategies for recruiting new members at both the local and state levels.

My involvement with the Lawyers Auxiliary began 15 years ago when Margie Griffith, the 1984-85 president of the Ingham County Bar Auxiliary, enthusiastically invited me to the next meeting of her organization, which happened to be the Spring Luncheon at the governor’s mansion! Now, I realize not every auxiliary member has the opportunity to invite a prospective member to such an impressive event, but I need to emphasize that attending a meeting at such a prestigious location was almost too intimidating for me. I may not have gone if Margie had not been so warm and encouraging. I know I would not have joined the auxiliary if I had not been impressed by the work the organization was doing in the community.

As any recruitment consultant will tell you, a personal invitation is still the best method to increase membership. I maintain, however, that beyond the personal invitation, you need to have a program or service that captures the potential member’s imagination. That requires getting to know new recruits at a level that allows you to begin matching their community service interests and personal skills with your programs.

Over the years I have served the Ingham County Bar Auxiliary in a variety of jobs including program co-chair, publicity chair, newsletter chair, secretary, treasurer, and president (1993-94). I am especially proud of the work our local auxiliary has done to serve the clients of our probate court. Not only have we supported the probate court’s Christmas program for many years with hand-knit hats, mittens, scarves, toys, and cash donations, but we have also transformed a waiting room at the court into a beautiful playroom for kids, complete with an aquarium. We continue to sponsor an annual Law Day Essay Contest, and many of our local winners have gone on to be state winners.

During my tenure as president of my local auxiliary, I had my first exposure to the Michigan Lawyers Auxiliary, as a member of the Board of Directors. At my first meeting, I remember standing in awe of the leadership skills and devotion to community service that the women in that room exhibited. Women like Audrey Gray, Fran Ryan, Mary Ellen Clements, Fran Anderson, Shirley Williams Crawley, Jan Martin, Norma Stancati, Judy Weldy, and Marj Deline cannot help but inspire someone like me to help carry on the organization’s torch. As a result, I have served as the MLA’s convention co-chair, Law Day chair, newsletter chair, recording secretary, and president-elect.

The work of the MLA is as varied as its local auxiliaries. Seven years ago, the Kalamazoo Lawyers Auxiliary, under the leadership of Audrey Gray, initiated a bed-time reading service for the residents of the local juvenile home. Dubbed "The Late Show," the Saginaw, Grand Rapids, and Midland Auxiliaries now have their own versions of the program. The Midland Auxiliary is

known for its Courthouse Tours, the Grand Rapids Auxiliary continues to recruit and train docents for the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the Saginaw Auxiliary does such an outstanding job of fundraising that it is able to award a number of grants annually to deserving community organizations.

I bring a variety of skills to my new job as MLA’s president. I graduated from Michigan State University in 1975 with a BA in journalism, and I worked full-time for seven years in public relations. When my second daughter was born, I became a full-time homemaker and part-time volunteer. Many of my volunteer activities have supported my children’s schools and our church, but I have also done volunteer work for the Arthritis Foundation, Girl Scouts, United Way, and WKAR. Currently, I do the billings for my husband’s law office and teach parent education classes part-time.

My husband, Ken, is a general practitioner in Lansing, and we have four daughters. Our oldest, Kim, works for Ernst & Young in Detroit. Rachel is a freshman at Hope College in Holland, and Jill and Leslie are sophomores at Lansing Eastern High School.

I am looking forward to my tenure as the MLA president, and I hope my efforts on behalf of the organization will strengthen our members’ resolve to continue the work of the MLA for years to come.

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