Director’s Dialogue

Director's Dialogue--Stand Up and Be Counted—Leadership Opportunities Available Through Your State Bar

by D. Larkin Chenault

If you’ve been looking for a way to have direct involvement in shaping the future of our profession, an opportunity to debate interesting and important issues, the ability to have your voice and opinions heard, a chance to stand up and be counted, then become a leader in your State Bar. The Bar offers lawyers an organized way to become involved and make a difference. Membership in Bar organizations and service on committees and boards helps lawyers improve themselves while serving the public and fellow members and improving the image of the profession.

Now is the time. Many opportunities are available to State Bar members through service on the State Bar’s Board of Commissioners, Representative Assembly, and Young Lawyers Section, as well as service on the Judicial Tenure Commission. Elections to fill vacancies in these positions will be held in June 2000. Nominating petitions are listed on pages 361-364 and page 366 of this issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, as well as on the State Bar’s web page. Petitions may be filed no earlier than April 1, 2000, and no later than April 30, 2000.

The annual election notice published in this issue of the Journal identifies the Representative Assembly circuits, Board of Commissioner districts and Young Lawyer Section districts in which member terms expire this year. While there are incumbents eligible to succeed themselves in some of these positions, even they would say that an organization’s strength is demonstrated by contested elections.

The Board of Commissioners is also currently seeking nominees for appointment as State Bar delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. The deadline to apply for appointment to fill one of these vacancies is March 31, 2000. Applicants should submit a résumé and a letter outlining their interest in the ABA, their current position in the ABA, work on ABA committees and sections, and other accomplishments and contributions to the State Bar of Michigan and the ABA.

Be sure to also check the Journal listings for opportunities for nomination for appointment to boards and commissions. The Michigan Supreme Court requests that the Board of Commissioners submit two recommendations for each lawyer position on the Attorney Discipline Board, Attorney Grievance Commission, and the State Bar Board of Commissioners, which are subject to Court appointment or nomination. The deadline for responses to the Discipline Board, Grievance Commission, and Board of Commissioners vacancies is May 10, 2000. Interested lawyers should submit a letter outlining their qualifications and a résumé.

The Bar’s 150-member Representative Assembly is the final policymaking body of the organization. The chair, vice chair, and clerk of the Assembly also serve on the Board of Commissioners. Also, one or more of the Assembly officers often serve on the State Bar’s Executive and Fiscal Committees. The Assembly addresses issues that vitally affect our profession and the administration of justice in our state. An example of some of the vital issues the Assembly has taken up already this year include:

•A proposal allowing legal assistant’s fees to be awarded by the Court

•Proposed amendments to Canon 7 and a proposed new Canon 8 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct concerning judicial campaign funding and other political activity by judges and judicial associations

•A proposed modification to MCR 9.112(B) regarding requests for investigation

•A proposal regarding the standard of review to be applied in disciplinary proceedings arising from statements by attorneys

The Assembly also recently hosted a presentation and panel discussion on the issue of Multidisciplinary Practice (MDP). [See related information in this month’s ‘‘President’s Page’’ on pages 314-315.]

The State Bar’s Young Lawyers Section (YLS) provides lawyers below the age of 36, or those who have practiced fewer than five years (whichever occurs last), many opportunities to become involved in Bar activities, develop their skills, improve their law practices, and cultivate valuable friendships and mentor relationships that can last a lifetime. The YLS is the oldest section of the State Bar, now in existence almost 60 years. The YLS Executive Council governs the Section and is comprised of 23 lawyers from across the state including, the chair, the immediate past chair, the chair of the Law Student Section, and 20 elected representatives, 10 of whom are elected each year for two-year terms by district mail balloting. The YLS chair, chair-elect, and immediate-past chair also serve ex-officio (voting) on the State Bar’s Board of Commissioners.

Service on any of the State Bar’s 42 committees is also an excellent way to make a contribution to the legal profession as well as the public. From standing committees on Appellate Court Administration to Ethics to Law-Related Education, Bar members are sure to find an area of interest where they can make a leadership contribution. The president-elect of the State Bar appoints committee members for 2000-2001. A complete listing of all State Bar committees and their jurisdictions can be found in the ‘‘Organizations’’ booklet inserted in the December 1999 edition of the Michigan Bar Journal. Those interested in serving on a particular committee should send a letter by April 15, 2000, to State Bar President-Elect Thomas J. Ryan c/o the State Bar of Michigan, indicating the committee to which they seek appointment, their experience in the area of concern to the committee, and any other pertinent qualifications.

The Bar is particularly interested in increasing diversity in all its governing bodies, leadership positions, committees and sections. We strongly encourage those interested to seek the opportunities available for leadership through service in these many ways. A small time commitment from you can assure that your State Bar is broadly representative of our profession and the public we serve.

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