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MCBA President’s Message: MCBA moving forward despite challenging times

Jill Paperno (Photo by Bennett Loudon)

Jill Paperno (Photo by Bennett Loudon)

I have received lots of wry smiles, via Zoom of course, and regretful and sympathetic comments about being bar president during a pandemic and at a time of national upheaval. And it will not surprise anyone that this was not the way I expected my bar presidency to go. But here we are, and although this is not what I planned, it seems that we are managing fairly well. I’m feeling surprisingly presidential.

I have asked Kevin Ryan (the Executive Director) what I am supposed to be doing now — if I am missing anything — and what we are missing beyond the in-person contacts. And again, surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, the Monroe County Bar Association and its members are continuing to function in vibrant and effective ways. There are hiccups, of course, like the occasional loss of connectivity during a meeting, but sections and committees are meeting, the membership renewals are coming in with some fall off, the MCBA staff is packing up and getting ready to move to our new location, and we keep planning. I’m meeting with chairs via Zoom to work through the membership of certain committees that require presidential appointment. MCBA is holding its usual Board and other meetings. Committees and sections seem to be engaging larger numbers of members — perhaps because Zoom might be an easier way to attend a meeting. And we keep planning for the future — both the immediate COVID-influenced future and the more distant time when we can all break bread together again.

So what have we been doing?

Well, the MCBA has been a veritable hive of activity. Committees and sections have been meeting, designing CLEs and planning for the year ahead. The Health and Well-Being Committee gets together for coffee on alternating Thursday mornings at Cobbs Hill Park for some well-needed, in-person, distanced conversation. The Memorial Committee is well into planning its annual gathering where we remember the colleagues we lost in the past year, and this year they are planning a remote event to honor those who passed. That memorial will be held on November 6 at 11:30 a.m. If interested in attending virtually, please RSVP to Susan Hearn at shearn@mcba.org.

A number of CLEs are already on the calendar for September, October, and November, including major programs such as Marty O’Toole’s civil practice update, our annual ethics update, the joint program with the Estate Planning Council, and the 55th annual Tax Institute. We have a series of programs taught by law practice management guru Jared Correia focusing on the COVID law firm. And we are developing additional exciting CLEs and other kinds of webinars.

We are preparing to move into our new space at the end of September, making regular site visits to 255 East Ave. to view the progress. We are exploring ways to engage with our community, currently torn over national and (sadly) local events. We continue to be here for you, your colleagues, and your neighbors. And we are looking forward.

But we need your help, too. Where we are missing a few beats is in membership renewals — our numbers are down. This decline was expected due to the pandemic and its financial impact. But if you are planning to renew, please consider doing so now. While it might seem that MCBA needs less money these days due to fewer events, we are still paying rent (though reduced at our new offices), and payroll (though we did have layoffs), and all the other bills associated with running an office. And although the Board has created a Membership Committee, we do not yet have any volunteers to join David Tang, its new chair, as members. If you are interested in helping to build membership, I encourage you to reach out to Kevin Ryan at kryan@mcba.org and let him know. And if you think we are missing something, or not providing a service we might in these challenging times, please contact me or Kevin.

Jill Paperno is president of the Monroe County Bar Association. She is First Assistant Public Defender at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.

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