Friday, August 4, 2017

Beyond Where the Sidewalk Ends...

While walking today, I came to the place where the sidewalk ends.  Literally. Somehow, I expected it to be a bit more magical and welcoming.  But perhaps I was looking at it from the perspective of a jaded, tired adult, and not as Shel Silverstein imagined it through the eyes of children.  A child would probably see the beautiful green hillside as a place for non-conformity and unrestricted play.  I saw defeat.  And poison ivy.

This got me thinking about this week’s blog. At our board meeting last week, we spoke of reinvigorating the work of The Vermont Joint Commission on the Future of Legal Services.  We spoke of the declining, aging membership and the changing provision of services, which got me thinking again about disruptors in the profession, like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, online education providers and the access to justice gap.  The discussion always seems to turn to doomsday or ‘the end’ and the overwhelming adversities that we must face, and fight. We have to be reminded, however, that with change and competition comes opportunity.  The end is another beginning. Maybe we just need a little more imagination!

I recently read in the blog “Associate’s Mind” one young lawyer’s perspective about how important bar associations are to build relationships in person, and on-line.  Bar associations are still critical for networking, allowing attorneys to meet for the first time or get to know better lawyers who are or had once been adversaries in a case.  The live events and online communities allow people to connect and bond outside of the confines of a particularly adversarial case.  Without a neutral platform for building relationships, smart and possibly ego-driven advocates, could remain permanently entrenched. They could miss the opportunity to connect and perhaps look back and laugh.   We are here for each other, now as ever before.  The VBA helps with these bonding opportunities, but also strives to improve the public perception of lawyers, educate and advocate for positive change in the legislature, among other things.

Many bar associations around the country are issuing futures reports to discuss the changes in the legal profession and how associations can better help attorneys embrace change, rather than resort to fight or flight. Our association, like the others, exists solely to help lawyers help others.  Our mission is to serve the public and the profession, cherishing the spirit of congeniality within the legal community.  We recognize the strength, diversity and imagination, rich within our membership.  And we need you, as you need us, as we all strive to find new ways to improve the profession as a rewarding and fulfilling way to help people wade through the complexities of life.

The VBA will soon be entering into some working-group and implementation phase projects stemming from our futures report.  We will be forming working committees to design and implement some of the recommended changes with respect to our court system, technology, education and the provision of legal services.  It’s time to be creative and use our collective wisdom and imagination to help each other remain successful and fulfilled while closing the access to justice gap.  Who is in?  If you have some ideas with respect to implementation or if you’d like to serve on a phase 2 committee, please drop me a line at jeb at vtbar dot org!

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