by Robert L. Jeffs
One of the “perks” of being Bar President is the opportunity to meet with or speak with so many of the leaders of the Sections, Committees, and Divisions of the Bar about the projects and initiatives they are working on for the benefit of their members and the public. Like many of you, prior to my Bar service, I suffered from the myopia that is a symptom of the significant time commitments of a busy law practice. This last month, Isaac Paxman from the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section told me about the new Topic Bank launched by the Litigation Section through its website. This project helps law students identify important, interesting, and current topics for research and writing in law journals or law school projects.
As I reflected on my discussions with Isaac, I realized that so much of the work done by the Bar is a product of our Committees and Sections. Philanthropic and pro bono programs include such programs as the Young Lawyers Division’s “Wills For Heroes” and “Walk Against Violence,” Women Lawyers of Utah’s “Cancer Bites” fundraiser, as well as Tuesday Night Bar programs sponsored throughout the State by local Bar Associations. Ethics opinions provided to members by the Ethics Advisory Committee, the legislative work of the Governmental Relations Committee, the handling of fee disagreements by the Fee Arbitration Committee, and the peer to peer counseling by the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee are just a few examples of the many services our Committees provide to Bar Members. The time donated by the volunteers that serve on the various committees of the Bar collectively amounts to thousands of hours per year.
I have the chance to serve on the Committees for the Annual Convention, the Fall Forum, and the Spring Conventions. A representative from each of the Sections of the Bar participates on those convention committees. Those representatives take the lead in designing the CLE breakout sessions. The Sections are able to focus on the specific needs of the various practice groups, to identify those issues that their members are most interested in for continuing education. Sections provide a network for the sharing of best practice tips and contribute to the overall professionalism of the Bar by fostering collegiality through the interaction of Section members.
Universally, the members of our Bar that I meet with report that their Bar service, whether it is participation in a Section, Committee, Division, or local Bar Association is rewarding. The experience enhances their work day life as an attorney. I would encourage all Bar members to expand their involvement in the Bar. At the very least, join a Section that involves an area of law that will assist your practice, get out of the office, attend Section meetings, meet other members of the Bar with similar practices. Like me, I think you will see your enjoyment from the practice of law increase.