October 2015 • Volume 103 • Number 10 • Page 10
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New Initiatives Help ISBA Members Adapt to a Changing Profession
ISBA is launching new programs to help lawyers succeed in the face of unprecedented change.
As the cool days of October set in I realize that my year as ISBA president is one quarter completed. I continue to be mindful of the advice I've been getting: "Enjoy it, because it is sure to go by quickly!"
Well, I am enjoying it, and I'm happy to report that we are continuing and expanding the good work for lawyers initiated by past presidents. We have also launched new programs to address challenges facing lawyers and judges alike.
New initiatives for 21st Century challenges
This August, we decided to conduct monthly meetings for our executive committee, which includes me and fellow ISBA officers Rick Felice, Vince Cornelius, Russ Hartigan, and Jim McCluskey. The meetings enable officers to give direct input about new programs and review existing ones. I believe this will promote continuity and better service to our members.
The topic of our first executive committee meeting was straightforward: The challenges confronting the practicing bar, particularly solo and small firm practitioners, which are more numerous and profound today than at any time in the last 50 years. They come from within and outside the traditional legal infrastructure.
Among them are for-profit lawyer referral services, online legal document providers, new delivery mechanisms that operate outside the profession's regulatory structure, the evolution of legal paraprofessionals, rapidly changing technology, crippling law school debt, shrinking real income for solo and small firm practitioners, and a tight legal job market. There are other challenges as well, as if these weren't enough.
During our first meeting, we identified and discussed all of these issues. We concluded that the ISBA should develop additional programming to help members become more productive and competitive in the evolving legal marketplace so they can meet these challenges head on. We authorized our ISBA staff to pursue the following initiatives:
1. Develop an effective bar-sponsored online public lawyer directory;
2. Provide additional practice management and technology resources to members;
3. Educate members about the changes in the legal marketplace and how to adapt;
4. Provide assistance specifically designed for new members of the profession.
By the time you read this, the second meeting of the executive committee will have taken place. I will continue to report on the progress of these initiatives, and we'll highlight the work of our task forces on the website, in the President's Page, and elsewhere so you can monitor our progress.
October gets us thinking about the upcoming holiday season and many wonderful bar-related events throughout our state. One such event is the Illinois Bar Foundation Gala, and I look forward to attending on October 16. This annual fundraiser, started in 1999, raises money to support the many worthwhile programs and causes selected by IBF board members.
Congratulations to Todd Smith, this year's recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Award of Excellence. Todd, a partner in Power Rogers & Smith, is a nationally recognized trial attorney. He is a past president of the ISBA and the American Association for Justice and serves on the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company Board of Directors. Well done, Todd!
I welcome your comments, suggestions, and emails and look forward to seeing many of you at the Midyear Meeting in December. Until next time, Ciao!