Your State Bar Staff

Your State Bar Staff--A Closer Look at the People Behind the Bar’s Programs and Departments


by Angela Bergman

When you think of someone who’s into holistic health, the first image that may come to mind is a flowery, sixties throwback. Martha Burkett, the newest addition to the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, is about as far from this as you can get. An incredibly down-to-earth and organized person, Martha brings a blend of talent, skill and vision to the new and improving LJAP.

Martha describes her role as director of LJAP as ‘‘evolving.’’ She says that she is pleased and excited to be an integral part of the Assistance Program’s current expansion, as it affords her a great deal of variety, as well as ample opportunity to ‘‘flex her creative muscles.’’ Her extensive background in addictions treatment, and her continuing pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Public Administration as well as Certification in Holistic Health (both of which she hopes to complete through Western Michigan University by spring of 2001), make her a perfect fit for this position. ‘‘I am able to draw on my clinical experience, and I get to stretch my skills in other areas as well, which pleases me,’’ she says.

The Assistance Program is currently focusing on ‘‘making people aware that we’re here and that they can access us for guidance on a wide range of issues.’’ ‘‘The Program is about much more than straight alcohol stuff,’’ she says. ‘‘Our catch phrase, ‘We will guide you,’ means just what it says. We aren’t doing treatment, but we’re making ourselves available to point people in whatever direction they might need to go.’’ The Assistance Program is available to aid people with a variety of situations, including chemical dependency, eating disorders, depression, gambling, marital/parenting issues, life stage adjustment, and overall mental health. The focus of the program is proactive intervention. ‘‘We want to help people get back on track before they become completely derailed no matter what the issues are.’’

When she is not working or studying, the rest of her time is spent with her nine-year-old son, Luke, and traveling to far-away (and warm) places.

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Andrena Reid’s quiet voice and kind manner are just what the doctor ordered for the reception desk at the State Bar of Michigan. Andrena brings with her a wealth of experience in dealing with the public, as well as a B.A. in Telecommunications and Media Relations from Michigan State University. She also brings the hope of improving the quality of service the front desk provides.

As one of two full-time receptionists, Andrena has been a crucial element in the expansion of the services provided by the receptionists. They now have the capability to generate certificates of good standing and to make address changes to the State Bar’s database. Andrena has already gotten positive feedback about the changes. ‘‘People are pleased with the speed at which we can get their certificates of good standing out—it usually takes only a day or two.’’

Active in her church, Andrena tries to apply the principles she believes in to all aspects of her life, including her job. The key to Andrena’s great rapport with customers is her ‘‘golden rule’’ philosophy. She says, ‘‘I put myself in their position and ask how I would want to be treated. I know how I feel when people don’t give me respect as a customer, and I try to remember that feeling when I’m working with a member.’’ She also says that ‘‘the whole organization is affected by what you say and do—you have to keep the attitude that you are representing a team, not just yourself.’’

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If it were up to Jennifer Williams, she would spend all of her time out on the water. The next best thing, however, is spending her week days at a job that is both challenging and fulfilling and spending her summer weekends boating on various Michigan lakes. Jenny is the Senior Administrative Assistant for the Access to Justice Development Campaign and works hard to help bring valuable legal services to low-income families.

Jenny enjoys many aspects of her role in the Campaign. She loves working with the volunteers; she says that ‘‘the volunteers are people who feel the same way I do and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the project.’’ She believes her people skills and the mutual desire to provide equal justice to the poor creates a real bond between herself and the volunteers. What she enjoys most about her job is ‘‘knowing that what we do benefits the public—specifically that we are assisting low-income people who have been historically denied equal rights in the justice system.’’

Jenny is responsible for much of the legwork that goes into the Development Campaign. She is the liaison with area volunteers, is primarily responsible for getting pledge reminders to donors, organizes training sessions for campaign leaders and solicitors, and is actively involved in planning the next steps the campaign will take.

Jenny says that it’s exciting to know they are leading the way for other states to create similar campaigns of their own. ‘‘Al Butzbaugh has said that ‘The country is watching us,’ and it’s great to feel others are recognizing our efforts.’’ She feels that the Campaign is making a real impact for all members of the State Bar. ‘‘Our cause,’’ she says, ‘‘is also helping improve the image of the profession and we feel we are helping to ease the burden on legal aid attorneys.’’ Through the campaign, the public sees that lawyers are concerned with the ideals of justice.



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