I must admit, I do not make New Year’s resolutions. But like many of you, I start the new year by reflecting back on the last one. I do this to determine what goals were accomplished and to move forward, so I may do better.
Like each day, the practice of law is ever-changing. It has certainly changed a great deal since my admission in 1993. During the past six months, when I have been privileged to be president of the Monroe County Bar Association, I have seen how the MCBA understands these changes and stays focused on moving forward and being better.
Lawyers like to plan; the members and staff of the MCBA have the same tendency. We are constantly and consistently planning in advance. We look forward to 30 days, six months, and even six to 10 years. We do this to make ourselves better lawyers and better people. Our association constantly looks at opportunities to assess the needs of attorneys — be it needs in insurance, continue legal education programs or other important functions that the association provides. The MCBA team does this by assessing what is working and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Just one example of making opportunities work can be seen in the recent changes to the Lawyer Referral Service. The old telephone system did not meet the needs of our members. Too many calls came from people attorneys could not help. There was also significant time wasted in having calls vetted through numerous people, only to find out that help could not be provided.
The changes in the new online platform have been received in a quite positive manner. The platform includes the ability for Lawyer Referral Service providers to screen information online from the potential client who has reached out. The new service has streamlined the process allowing the potential clients and attorneys to connect faster with a better understanding of the client’s needs. It also allows for the attorney-members to minimize valuable time spent only to find out that they are not able to assist someone.
The planning required to make these types of changes takes time and teamwork — the teamwork of attorneys and the outstanding staff at the bar association. I encourage everyone to look at the Monroe County Bar Association website and check out this new service. I also encourage everyone to browse all of the other online offerings. I believe that you will be amazed as to how much information is available and how much it can make your lives easier.
Technology: using it better
Like our profession, technology has changed a great deal over the years. Technology does more than improve our profession; technological changes that have occurred now require attorneys to learn and know how to use it. Since we have these requirements, I suggest that we can improve ourselves by maximizing what is offered through the bar association.
The advances in technology help us maximize our use of time with all aspects of our jobs — from electronic filing, discovery and data review to research and use of business or professional programs, as well as writing briefs to communicating with clients. The advances must be understood so that we can best serve our clients.
The Technology and Law Practice Committee, chaired by Nicole Black, routinely provides excellent updates and speakers to help us understand the fast and exciting areas of technology that can be used to better our profession. The committee also brings in all attorneys (of various technological ability) to share knowledge and use these tools in the betterment of our practice.
Like the Lawyer Referral Service, I encourage every member (and potential member) to attend one of these meetings and see what it is about. I promise you will not be disappointed. And in keeping in the spirit of the year 19 of the 21st century, I would remind everybody that you can attend these meetings by using the technology discussed. You need not leave your office in order to “attend” the meeting.
Staying in touch
As I reflect on 2018, it seems as if the year flew by. It is for this very reason (and as part of my communication theme) that I hope to keep in touch with as many of my colleagues in our community as possible. During the first six months of my tenure, I have grown to admire our legal community that much more.
It is because of this that I encourage you all to attend the numerous upcoming continuing legal education programs, social events and meetings offered by your Monroe County Bar Association. I suggest these opportunities allow us to stay connected with friends and colleagues. If nothing else, you have a chance to catch up and not feel “alone.” I suggest that these opportunities are always a good use of time.
Commitment to the Profession
As part of my reflection, I wanted to make sure I kept my commitment and promise that our MCBA team does everything we can to work for and help all members. We will continue to reach out to the legal community to keep this promise. The Monroe County Bar Association continues to strive to help you, its members, as much as possible and as best as we can. Our ongoing health and well-being programs continue to grow and have been well received by all who have attended. The bar is also working on developing ways to not only improve our services to its members, but to provide even more opportunities.
One example is the recent formation of a task force to review the needs of our members (and non-members) to review all opportunities to grow and improve. This task force considers all options including adding potential programs and services, subtracting some and taking a serious look at changing our fee structure to better fit the needs of the individual member. It is my hope and our goal to implement the first stages of these changes in time for the next bar year.
As I reflect back during this time, I am most excited about how so many people I have work with are committed to our justice system and making our bar association the best that it can be. We are also always looking for suggestions and help from members to help accomplish this goal. We will continue to aim ever higher.
Finally, I wanted to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! I also hope to see you all soon.
Jon P. Getz is president of the Monroe County Bar Association and is the partner of Vahey Muldoon Reston Getz LLP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.