It’s been hard for me to get excited about blogging since the bar’s annual meeting, as you can probably tell from how long it’s been since I’ve posted. I think everyone should take the month of August off. Don’t you? The lassitude of summer faded with the rising energy and quickening pace of fall – as we all returned to our regular duties – but, though I’ve been busy with lots of projects and individual consults, I just didn’t have anything to say. Until a couple of days ago, when I was having lunch with a friend and fellow lawyer.
My friend asked me what was going on at bar headquarters, and I began to tell her about some of President Jim Pratt’s initiatives for this year. She listened with interest, but then said that the bar didn’t really have much impact on her or her practice. I have to admit that this got my goat a little bit, however, I also have to concede that I didn’t really know much about what the bar did before I came to work here. And if you don’t know all of the many things the Alabama State Bar does for you, it’s not necessarily your fault, either.
So here are just a few of the things the bar does that really do affect all Alabama lawyers, for the better:
- In a era when very few members of the Alabama State Legislature are lawyers, the bar actively monitors all pending legislation, particularly bills of special interest to lawyers. While the session is ongoing, you can find a weekly summary of the status of all relevant bills on the bar’s web site. In addition, the bar has developed a role as a neutral advisor and facilitator within the legislature, helping in the most recent special and regular sessions with the negotiation of the final versions of the ethics, tort reform and indigent defense laws that were passed.
- Through the Volunteer Lawyers Program the bar helps to provide access to justice to people who can’t afford a lawyer, as well as help lawyers to manage their own pro bono work by providing a framework in which the lawyer is assured that the client has been carefully screened and is truly eligible for free legal services. Plan to celebrate Pro Bono Week October 23 – 29th.
- In an age where lawyers are very often vilified by members of the general public, the bar maintains a constant push to publicize the good deeds of our members and help the public to understand the huge number of hours that lawyers donate to the betterment of society each year through civic involvement. If you’ve heard or seen the ads on radio and TV, you’ve seen your bar at work.
- Through the Office of General Counsel the bar endeavors to protect the public from incompetent or unscrupulous practitioners, as well as from unqualified individuals who would attempt to engage in the unauthorized practice of law. If you know of unethical behavior by a lawyer in your community that hasn’t been investigated, you should ask yourself whether you’ve lived up to your obligations under Rule 8.3(a). Our profession will never deserve more respect than we as lawyers demand through our self-policing efforts.
- And this list can’t begin to cover all the great member benefits and services, from Casemaker free legal research through discounts on lots of great products and services to make the practice of law easier. We expect to announce some additional great benefits after the November 4, 2011 Board of Bar Commissioners meeting.
We here at the bar really do want to serve you. Just let us know what you need.