January 2001, pg. 3. PRESIDENT'S PAGE: Good Benches Make Good Neighbors.

Maine Bar Journal


January 2001, pg. 3.

PRESIDENT'S PAGE: Good Benches Make Good Neighbors

Maine Bar JournalJanuary 2001PRESIDENT'S PAGE: Good Benches Make Good NeighborsWhoever said, "the only constant is change" was right. Humans tend to be respectful (in a fearful kind of way), hesitant (in a fearful kind of way), and curious (in a fearful kind of way) about change. Early religion (e.g. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology) developed around understanding and predicting, in general terms, everything from changes in weather and seasons to changes in life, like marriage and aging. The Chinese developed a "fortune telling" text, the I Ching, in the third millennium B.C., which literally is translated as "The book of change." The Tarot best expresses a westerner's view of change. The card representing change and transformation is the Death card.

Bar Association presidents past often wrote about changes surrounding the law, like fax machines, new office practices, and being less stressed out. The purpose of those missives was to alert practitioners, in the vernacular, to "wake up and smell the coffee." I am not too interested in being a modern day Cassandra about change. But, I have read the Runes and found a major change is afoot, and I am really excited about it. The legal profession is moving from an adversarial model to a collaborative one.

It's true. And it's good. Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution is one obvious sign of this change. I like ADR because it allows lawyers to do what good lawyers do best: be counselors at law and problem solvers. I think that to do a good job as a lawyer one has to solve the opposing side's issues as well as those of one's client.

There is another change that affects, particularly, the litigators among us as well as the community at large. The Bar Association is involved in a collaboration with the judiciary, court administrators, and legal service providers to change courts from being a place of last resort to being a community resource. This process is a challenge, and it will happen.

The first change that must happen is in the us v. them relationship between and among bench, bar, and clients. The single greatest representation of that mentality is the existence of a bench. Two or three people (the judge, the clerk, and maybe a bailiff) are on one side of the bench and...

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