President's Page, 0918 ALBJ, 79 The Alabama Lawyer 308 (2018)

PositionVol. 79 5 Pg. 308


Vol. 79 No. 5 Pg. 308

Alabama Bar Lawyer

September, 2018

Listening Is Key

One of the benefits of participating in a contested race for Alabama State Bar president is that I spent a good deal of time travelling around the state, meeting and talking with individual members of the Alabama State Bar. This experience was invaluable. What I learned from countless conversations with state bar members has greatly influenced what I would like to accomplish during my presidency.

Speaking to various legal groups about the state bar and why I decided to run for president forced me to think about the role and function of the organization. As I see it, the Alabama State Bar has two distinct duties: One is to serve the public, and the other is to serve its members. Both of these duties are equally important. Services which the state bar provides to the public include: (1) communication, (2) lawyer discipline, (3) volunteer lawyer programs, (4) the administration of justice, (5) education, (6) lawyer licensing and (7) charitable outreach. Services that the Alabama State Bar provides to its members include: (1) communication, (2) local bars, (3) member benefits, (4) education, (5) wellness, (6) operations, (7) the administration of justice, (8) diversity and (9) licensing. It is this second duty, the duty owed by the state bar to its members, which I intend to focus on while serving as president.

Meeting so many lawyers in different parts of the state and different areas of practice highlighted for me the diverse nature of our membership. We are a mandatory bar so all lawyers in Alabama are required to be members. Diversity is a strength, but it also creates challenges. After talking with various kinds of lawyers, I believe that one of the biggest issues facing our profession is the gap between large-firm lawyers and solo/small-firm lawyers, and between city lawyers and rural lawyers. It is important that we all come together as one bar. Doing so is in the best interest of all practicing lawyers, and the Alabama State Bar has an important role to play in making this happen.

What I heard from our membership is that there needs to be better communication between the Board of Bar Commissioners and individual state bar members. To meet its duty of providing service to individual members, the Alabama State Bar must be transparent to its members and should develop a system that...

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