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Thoughts from a Leader

During her year as president of the State Bar of Michigan, Kimberly Cahill shared her thoughts and vision through her monthly President's Page in the Michigan Bar Journal. Following are some excerpts from those articles:

"What really matters now is how we face the future of our profession. Do we react as the world changes around us (always the easy path for a profession that relies on precedent and stare decisis), or do we mold the profession to meet the changes that are inevitable?" What Matters Now (October 2006)

"We, as a profession, must accept that doing the job of a lawyer, being a zealous advocate for the cause of our client, popular or not, does not always guarantee a place at the top of the 'most admired' lists. Those who defend the rights of the minority against the sentiment of the majority are not destined to be universally accepted. Does this mean that we must condone uncivil, unnecessarily divisive behavior? Absolutely not. We can model the behavior we expect others to display toward us." Image (November 2006)

"It is difficult, if not impossible, for our association to be all things to all members. And that is why we rely on our partners—our sections, local bars, affinity bars, and special-interest bars—when providing services to members....The great thing about this multitude of groups is how they complement one another. All of them work as partners to provide the best combination of service for our members. And that beats a "Who's best?" competition any day!" Partnership (December 2006)

"Of course, not all of us will be president of the United States or a congressman or even a public servant in the traditional sense of the word. But each of us can celebrate the heroes among us. Not each of us will have the opportunity to practice law with a future president, but we each practice law with heroes. Not each of us will have the opportunity to advise a president on the most important legal issues of our time, but each of us will help advise our clients on the most important legal issues they will ever face." Gerald R. Ford—Accidental Hero (January 2007)

Many ordinary citizens perceive attorneys' interest in UPL as merely a matter of economic self-protection—that we want to prohibit any unlicensed person from doing anything regarding the practice of law to maximize the sources of potential revenue for our members. Nothing could be further from the truth. UPL--Challenges and Solutions (Part 1) (February 2007)

"So while litigation is one of our tools, we must have others, and education is paramount among them. We must educate the public on the importance of attorneys in all of these areas, and we must continue to work to improve the image of our profession and make our input valuable and credible to consumers of legal services. Lastly, we must realize that for many people who need legal services, attorney fees are not affordable. We must explore different options. We can't afford to nor will we be successful if we use only litigation to combat the unauthorized practice of law." UPL--Challenges and Solutions (Part 2) (March 2007)

"I hope that each of you will take a look at the list of our 50-year honorees (which was published in the March 2007 Michigan Bar Journal and seek out those you know, not only to congratulate them, but also to ask about their lives and experiences in the law. I think you'll learn a lot from them and can incorporate their experiences into your own practice." Celebrating 50 Years and New Beginnings (May 2007)

"How do (or did) you learn about the technology that you need to use in your daily practice? (No fair saying that you have a child or grandchild to teach you—some of us have to borrow our godchildren and nieces and nephews for that!) My own learning has been trial and error with the equipment at hand. It certainly leaves some gaps in my knowledge and is frustrating. I know just enough to get what I need to work on most days." Let's Talk Technology (June 2007)

"Those who are indigent and in need of criminal defense services are constitutionally guaranteed the right to an attorney. What is just as common, though, is the low- or modest-income client who needs help with a civil issue—the majority of those problems being in the areas of housing, consumer law, divorce, or child custody. There is no constitutional guarantee to counsel in any of these cases, yet would any of you seriously argue the importance of being able to keep a roof over your head, to have your own means of transportation, or to retain custody of your children?" Access to Justice (July 2007)

"Often, when we ask our members to describe their pro bono work, they reply only in terms of cases handled or hours donated. Many of them provide other valuable services to the community that improve and strengthen it. Are we not to consider those as being for "the public good" as well, simply because there is no case code attached or lawsuit to bring? I don't think so." Pro Bono (August 2007)

"The State Bar is a wonderful organization, with its primary objective being the welfare of the public and its members. We have a bright future ahead. I hope that each and every one of you has the opportunity to participate with the Bar. I always got much more back from my service than I gave. I know you would have the same wonderful experience that I have had." A Fond Farewell (September 2007

Read Kimberly Cahill's 2001 Macomb County Bar Briefs President's Columns

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