Your State Bar Staff

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


by Angela Bergman

Cher, classic cars, gardening, and accounting. This odd mix of interests is a perfect reflection of Kim Johnson, Senior Executive Administrator of the Finance Department. In all aspects of her life, her hard-working, detail-oriented personality plays a vital role.

At work, Kim holds a key position at the Bar—she supervises the processing of dues. This year, she says, was a rough year in that area. "This year we were thrown into a new computer system and had to learn as we went. Now that we have figured out the process, next year’s dues processing should be smoother and faster." The dues process, she says, "is the most stressful time of the year. There’s a lot of pressure to get it done right and get it done quickly." She admits, however, that "I love my job. It’s very stressful during dues, but I thrive on it."

In addition to processing dues, which is her main focus from September to January, Kim makes the daily deposits and keeps track of the bank balances, does the purchasing for office and cleaning supplies, and coordinates the staff insurance programs. Her favorite part of her job, she says, is the contact she has with both members and vendors, and the autonomy she is given in her position.

Kim has literally been with the Bar "forever." She first started her work here as a high school student participating in a co-op program. Her senior year in high school, she served the Bar as a part-time lawyer referral operator. After a year at Central Michigan University, Kim was invited back to the Bar by those who had recognized her potential. She returned to the Bar as a "floater," a Jack-of-all-trades who helped out wherever she was needed. Eventually, she landed in the Finance Department.

Kim has been given the opportunity to grow as the Finance Department has grown. She speaks highly of her new supervisor, Dave Rider, and says that "he has brought invaluable changes to the department." Under Dave’s guidance, Kim has taken on more responsibility and has been given the opportunity to shine in the areas in which she is most talented.

Kim’s active children keep her busy outside of work. With a 12-year-old daughter, Jessica, and a 10-year-old son, Justin, who are both active in sports, she rarely has a weekend when she isn’t cheering one of them on. In addition, she and her husband, Rick, enjoy attending classic car shows and working on their 1939 Olds.

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The Publications Department of the State Bar has recently undergone some major changes. One of the most important of those changes was to create a position that focused exclusively on increasing the revenue of the department. Stacy Sage, who has been with the Publications Department for over seven years, has stepped into a new role as advertising manager.

Stacy has worked with the advertising side of the Michigan Bar Journal for several years; but until now, she has not focused on it completely. In her new role, she will be responsible for the display and classified advertising in the Bar Journal, the e-Journal, and on the website, as well as for promoting the print-on-demand services offered by the State Bar.

Why the sudden focus on advertising? The Publications Department plays a vital role in keeping members informed of State Bar activities, member services, changes in the law, meetings, announcements, and news, but is always looking to improve upon what they can offer the members. Increasing the revenue received by the department will increase the services that can be offered to the membership. The Publications Department, for example, is offering a new version of the e-Journal that will be accessible for download to Palm Pilots and other hand-held devices. This new service launched in early June.

In her new role, Stacy will put her self-motivation and organization to the test. It’s challenging to get out there and contact potential customers, but Stacy’s ability to communicate effectively and to relate to everybody will come in handy.

Stacy, a championship bowler in her spare time, doesn’t intend to let her new duties slow her down. She still plans to catch all the Nascar Races she can, being the big fan of Jeff Gordan that she is, and spend as much time as possible with her husband watching their kids grow up.

While she admits that it’s been a little scary to leave some of her previous duties behind and venture into a new role, she is excited about the possibilities and is anxious to see what she can now bring to the Publications Department. Of course, Stacy invites all of the members who are looking for "an opportunity to promote their services though the Michigan Bar Journal, the e-Journal, and soon, the website," to contact her.

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Bethany Smith jokingly describes herself as a "Jack-of-all-trades and a master of none." Her co-workers in the Access to Justice Department beg to differ. Beth is the administrative assistant of the Department and works closely with Alycia McIntyre-Johnson and MaryAnn Sarosi.

The Access to Justice Department seeks to improve the delivery of legal services, increase the use of technology, and develop the financial resources to address the unmet legal needs of the poor. They focus both on increasing the amount of pro bono work done by Michigan lawyers and on increasing the funds donated to the program. Beth works behind-the-scenes to help put this plan into action. While the Access to Justice Department’s focus is making legal services more accessible to the public, it also plays an important role in improving the image of the profession as a whole.

Beth primarily focuses on researching what others are doing to increase legal services for the poor and on setting up meetings for the development of the Michigan Plan 2000. Most recently, she has been organizing regional meetings to gather input on what should be happening with Access to Justice in Michigan.

Beth is most pleased with the customer service aspect of her position. She uses her "gift of gab" to connect with all the members and vendors she deals with. She also enjoys the opportunity to provide input on the Department and its programs, and the fact that her opinion is respected. Particularly fulfilling, she says, is that "it’s nice to know that we’re aiding in securing the future of justice for all people."

Beth enjoys all things musical. She is currently teaching herself to play the piano, and loves seeing her hard work pay off when she learns something new. Right now, she says, "I’m just enjoying life. I’m enjoying my role at the Bar, and am anxious to see where it takes me next."



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