Peter Drucker, the late well-respected management consultant, found that forecasting future trends was notoriously difficult. Drucker observed that "trying to predict the future is like driving down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Drucker was correct. It is virtually impossible to predict the future. But Drucker did not simply give up. His solution: “the best way to predict the future is to create it."
With all due respect to Peter Drucker, the HCBA recognized this year that it cannot create every aspect of the future. But some things are within its control. We can set goals and take steps to reach them. At last year’s Annual Meeting, I explained that the HCBA’s goal was to make your practice of law more rewarding and more enjoyable. And I said that we would attempt to accomplish this goal by stressing three principles: (1) increased member value; (2) enhanced member engagement; and (3) cooperation with other bar associations.
This year, the HCBA made significant strides in implementing all three principles. As a membership organization, our foremost consideration is to increase the value our association provides to its 8,000 members. To increase member value, we further expanded the number of free continuing legal education programs for our members.
We also rolled out a number of programs unique to the HCBA. For example, our Civil Litigation Section offered an innovative and highly successful pilot program to train lawyers in trial practice and civil advocacy. The HCBA program had the full participation of the Fourth District bench and some of the Twin Cities’ most accomplished litigators.
As for enhanced member engagement, perhaps our most significant initiative was our new HCBA Excellence Awards. The awards were a retooling of our former awards program to involve more members in the selection of award recipients and to recognize the outstanding achievements of newer and younger lawyers. I am very proud of the work of the new Awards Committee, chaired by immediate HCBA past-president Paul Floyd. One of the best moments of my presidency was calling all nine award recipients. I could not be more pleased with the diversity of the recipients and their immeasurable impact on the Twin Cities community.
Also of note is the HCBA’s continuing effort to recruit and retain a board of directors that reflects the diverse characteristics of our membership--in age, gender, race, years of practice, and practice settings. I am extraordinarily proud the HCBA now boasts the youngest and most diverse set of leaders in its 100-year history. More than half of the HCBA’s incoming board of directors is under age 40, as are four of the six members of next year’s executive committee.
We have made remarkable progress in our cooperation with other bar associations. This year, the walls between the HCBA, our pro bono partner the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), and the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) came down, both literally and figuratively. The walls between the offices of the three organizations literally came down in December 2017, when the HCBA, VLN, MSBA reconfigured its collective space into a single office suite. If you have not seen the new space, I encourage you to visit. It is now not only more beautiful but much more vibrant and very busy with member meetings, VLN client intake, and continuing legal education programs.
Taking the walls down was also symbolic. There is a new spirit of cooperation among the staff of the HCBA and MSBA, and among volunteer leaders of both organizations. In my judgment, this is our most significant achievement. And the HCBA is continuing to explore avenues of additional collaboration with the MSBA, the Ramsey County Bar Association, the affinity bars, and district bar associations in Greater Minnesota.
I have been fortunate enough to practice law for 30 years and have held many volunteer positions in my career. But serving as your president of the HCBA has been my single most rewarding volunteer position. I want to thank all of the volunteers with whom I served over the years on the HCBA executive committee, board of directors, and finance and planning committee. With Adine Momoh as our 100th president, we are in great hands. And with Jeff Baill, Esteban Rivera, and Brandon Vaughn, the HCBA has outstanding future leadership and is poised to move forward into its next century.
Additional Rule 7A Update:
Kate Reilly, whose saga Lisa Buck detailed in an excellent article in the Sept.-Oct. 2017 edition of the Hennepin Lawyer, passed the December 2017 Minnesota bar exam. We congratulate Ms. Reilly but recognize it is unfortunate she had to take the exam. Her plight has spurred the Minnesota Supreme Court to consider a more reasonable waive-in rule. In early June 2018, the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners, based in part on the HCBA’s testimony, recommended the Minnesota Supreme Court provide a lawyer may waive-in if he or she establishes that for 36 of the last 60 months, he or she was engaged in the principle occupation of law for at least 1000 hours per year.