FROM THE PRESIDENT
Task Force Recommendations Mean Some Changes to Committees, LRIS, and Media Response
There was a lot of activity over the holidays and, as I reported last month, the task forces had prepared their reports. At our January 27, 2016 meeting, the Board of Trustees took up those recommendations but there were other issues as well. For those of you who have served as officers or are on the Board, you are well aware that the work of the Association is daily and that activities do not come without effort. However, the Board’s goal this year and for years to come is to improve the engagement of our members hopefully by providing each of you activities and events as well as CLE programming that will enhance not only your practice but also your way of life, making you both a success in the office and in your community.
To that end, we also addressed issues of a broader nature such as a media relations and endorsement policy. There are instances where the media response team needs to take action. There have also been times when members and others have asked the Bar Association to weigh in on issues that would be of general interest to our membership. We have essentially “codified” what has been an informal policy and improved our understanding for the membership as to how your Bar Association will interact with the media. The full text of the media relations and endorsement policy can be found here.
We are also reviewing with Judge Todd McKenney’s subcommittee the “Access to Justice” program that Chief Justice O’Connor and the Ohio State Bar Association, under OSBA President John Holschuh’s leadership, have undertaken, to see how best it would help us to serve the public as well as our practitioners, especially those with moderate-means clientele.
We are looking at ways to improve our delivery of services to the poor not only in pro bono, but through instituting the “Access to Justice” program as well as exploring possible ways to fund legal services in the area of “poverty law.” To that end, a task force will be created with Past President Bill Dowling not only participating but probably leading all of us based on the example he sets through his extensive experience in this area.
With respect to the reports of the task forces, many of those are things that will be announced as details are developed, including the consolidation of certain committee work so as to combine and conserve our resources not only of money but also member time and effort.
One thing I believe is important for our members at all levels is to revisit the Lawyer Referral and Information Services project. Many of you recall the time when there was no such thing as a lawyer referral service and now, of course, they have proliferated under rules and regulations issued by the Supreme Court. We are under the leadership of Maura Scanlon as subcommittee chair on this task force. A new committee will be constituted, and panel members will be invited to participate in how best to improve how inquiries are handled at the Bar, assignments are made, selection of the proper panel members, the tracking of performance and whether that inquiry leads to a client relationship and, finally, the fee income not only for our members but for the Association. While we have been regularly advertising LRIS, it is our hope that the improved function will improve revenue not only for the Bar but for the service itself and therefore for its members. We also believe this is a way to assist all of our lawyers at every level, experienced and new to the practice, whether they are in a solo practice, a small practice or even our incubator.
On January 27, 2016, the Board considered the recommendations of all of the task forces as presented in five (5) specific areas by Executive Committee action and review. In this Examiner, you will see the recommended actions. I already discussed the lawyer referral and information services action, but the other actions are stated in more detail in the chart below. Some of these involve consolidation of committees and a more focused use of resources by those who participate in those committees.
There are many more things that were recommended by the task forces and that will be addressed as we move forward through the remaining year and beyond. Please feel free to provide us with your comments and suggestions.
2015/2016 Akron Bar Association President
Task Force Recommendations:
|Recommendation: Reconstitute the LRIS Committee, to be appointed by the ABA President, to commence work on the LRIS task force recommendations which should be substantially completed by May 31, 2016 for presentation to the Board at its June 2016 meeting.||Recommendation: Reconstitute the Federal Courts Committee as the Federal Courts Annual Luncheon Planning Committee with the charge of planning the annual luncheon event and assisting with the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Court Institute effective July 1, 2016.|
|Recommendation: Eliminate Street Law as a program and charge the Street Law Committee with the sole responsibility of hosting the annual Street Law Summit effective July 1, 2016.||Recommendation: Reconstitute the Professionalism Committee as the Professionalism Award Committee with the sole charge of selecting the annual professionalism award recipient and planning the annual event effective July 1, 2016.|
|Recommendation: Reconstitute the Law School Liaison Committee as a sub-committee of the Membership Committee effective July 1, 2016.||Recommendation: Authorize the Executive Committee to recommend changes to the Nominating Committee structure and process for review by the Board at its March 23, 2016 meeting and, as appropriate, communicate to membership for approval at the 2016 annual meeting.|
|Recommendation: Suspend the Pro Bono Committee and replace with a task force to be appointed by the ABA President to determine what pro bono means to the Association and revisit the Pro Bono Committee issue after the task force completes its work by July 1, 2016.||Recommendation: Create a Corporate/In-House Counsel Section effective July 1, 2016 and as appropriate, communicate to membership for approval at the 2016 annual meeting.|
|Recommendation: Merge the Municipal and Common Pleas & Appellate courts committees effective July 1, 2016.|
Larry Scanlon is Managing Partner of Scanlon & Elliott in Akron.