“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
This quote has meant so much to me that I have literally carried it with me during this past year. Each day of my bar presidency, I have had an opportunity to write out a checklist of things to do (both bar and non-bar related) in my notebook. This quote has guided me daily in keeping to the tasks at hand. It also reminds me of all the opportunities that have been provided to me during this year. Finally, it provides reflection on a year that seems to have moved so quickly.
Under the presidency of my friend Jill Cicero, our entire MCBA Board spent a significant amount of time and energy creating a Strategic Plan. This year, our board made sure the plan was enacted. Part of our vision is to make sure that Monroe County Bar Association foster the professional success and satisfaction of our members by equipping them with the ability to adapt to an ever-changing practice. We also continue to work hard in our vision to advance the rule of law in our community and improve it at all levels. Our legal community is tight-knit. I suggest that this “closeness” plays a significant part in making us a nationally recognized bar for its size. It is the MCBA that provides the tools and resources to make the vision a reality.
These visons and goals allow us to understand what tools we need to provide our members to help make them be the best they can personally and professionally. Through the hard work of many, those goals are being achieved.
This year the MCBA has made advances in providing law office technology opportunities to all members. The advancement in technology is not limited to our attorneys. It is expected that the association will have webinar technology available to our members for our excellent continuing legal education programs. We have also been implementing technology to connect with our members — even including facetime and other opportunities to have attorneys and the public see what is happening even if they are unable to attend a certain function.
Our progress is also evident when looking at the second year of our Solo & Small Firm Committee conference. This conference, and the committee, exemplifies the ingenuity and forward thinking of our bar. The conference, which was nationally recognized, has already become a model for many other programs.
In addition to advancements in our communication and technology, we have also been building up our legal community. The continued collaboration that has occurred with our friends and colleagues from RBBA and GRAWA further strengthens our professional relationships. I have appreciated what my friends from these outstanding associations bring to the table. This collaboration has transcended into working with our colleagues in the judiciary by doing all we can to address the well-being of all members of our profession.
This, of course, cannot be done without the assistance of many. I would to especially thank Chief Judge Frank Geraci, who is part of the Health and Well-Being Committee and who has been heavily engaged in providing valuable guidance and assistance to the bar association in these areas.
A special thanks as well to our Outstanding Jurist Award recipient, Chief Administrative Judge Craig Doran. Just like Judge Geraci (and many of our other outstanding jurists), Judge Doran has made a point of collaborating with the bar association in developing outstanding programs and task forces that have allowed our community to be leaders in the state as we strive for the objective of justice for all. We also are in the vanguard of advancing alternative dispute resolution opportunities for litigants. These are just some examples of the hard work that so many attorneys and others have advanced in our court system.
The hard work in providing outlets into the health and well-being of our members cannot be understated and has also progressed as we hoped. Chaired by Brad Kammholtz, I must admit that this initiative (and the greater issue) has become quite personal to me as I have learned that I must practice what has been preached. After experiencing and recovering from a rather challenging health issue, I have learned to become more disciplined in understanding the importance of self-help and self-health. As a close friend has recently said to me: “If you don’t take care of yourself, are really taking care of your clients?” The answer is self-evident. It is also good to have us be reminded of how important our health truly is to us professionally and personally.
This year also saw changes in the way we recognizing our profession. The changes included implementing an entire week to celebrate our Law Day events. The week culminated in a celebration of attorneys through an evening of awards presentation. The positive feedback from this change has been encouraging. It also allows us to continue to think of ways to connect our members in new and exciting ways.
While, I believe I could offer several more pages on the bar accomplishments this year, what I have found most exciting about the year has been the opportunity I have had to meet so many outstanding people. To the board who served with me, thank you. It has been a pleasure to be part of the team. Throughout the year and on a daily basis, lawyers, judges, paraprofessionals and the MCBA team members showed me the excellence that is our local bar. There is a reason that our region is often selected in developing the programs and policies discussed above. It is the willingness of our membership to take chances as we move forward in the 21st century and address association issues to meet our needs.
The selfish part of me must state that I believe I have received more than I have given this year. I made new friends that I most likely would not have otherwise met if it were not for the MCBA. There are too many friends to count, but know that I appreciate you and all of the hard work that you have done with me this past year.
As my term rapidly comes to a close, I hope that I have served you well. I also look forward to a continuation of serving my colleagues, my friends. In the meantime, thank you for allowing me to serve you as president for the past 525,600 minutes.
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.