Hello, hello…is anyone out there?

hello is there anybody out there

Every week I spend some time pondering my topic for the week’s blog. I ask my Communications Team, Liz and Dae, to send some ideas my way, and they are always very good about it. But today I spent some time reading back through some old blogs and noted a pattern. In many of the blogs I am asking for feedback — from you — the valued members of the MCBA.

But there is a problem, and I am really concerned about it. I have been back and forth in my head as to whether or not I say anything to you. I lie awake at night wondering whether or not something is wrong, and asking myself, should I say something. I finally decided I need to talk with you about it. I like to think we have an open relationship and we can talk honestly with each other.

So here goes. I write and write and write these blogs, and in many of them, I am seeking your input and counsel. My question is this — why have you never written back? To be completely forthcoming, there are about 3 of you that write back on a regular basis:  Barbara Orenstein, Sharron Porcellio and Gene Clifford — and thank god they do. A few of you have written once on a particular topic, but not often. It is easy to feel a slight onset of paranoia!!

Here are some of the themes and questions I have been asking over time:

Awards Committee — last week I wrote about what an honor it was to be celebrated recently as an Athena Finalist. I went on to say we all deserve to be celebrated. The purpose of last week’s blog was to encourage you to nominate a friend or a colleague for one of the many MCBA or Foundation Awards. I have not received any nominations.

Social Media — how are we using it? Is it an effective form of communication to you? We have lots of friends out there, because you join the various media platforms, but we never hear from you?!

BarSTOP — this is our new 3rd Thursday of every month tradition at 5pm at the Hyatt. We came up with this idea because there were repeated requests in recent member surveys for more social events that provided opportunities for networking. So we created BarSTOP — a no registration required, free event. These are great events, but I am really hoping to hit 75 attendees this month. Please join us on Thursday, February 20th at 5:00 p.m. Bring friends and colleagues!!

Mentoring — remember that one? I wrote about the person that gave me my first opportunity. Sister Mary Alice Roach. I was calling on all of you to think back to the person that believed in you that first time, and gave you your first chance, and to come back to us and sign up to be a mentor. If I could collect a dollar for every member that has recommended that we need mentors for the young attorneys, I could take myself away for a nice weekend vacation.

And then of course, I have had countless blogs trying to engage you in talking to me about ideas for new member benefits. This is what we are all about? Membership. Benefits. Services. Opportunities. Engagement. Help me/us do it better!!

And to all of these, with the exception of Sharron, Barb and Gene, you have been incredibly quiet and unresponsive. And I know you – you are not a group that lacks opinion. I know you are busy attorneys and I don’t mean this to be a burden, but your feedback is valuable. I think we are pretty good about soliciting opinions. In reality, we can’t make everything happen, but you know we will work hard to fulfill as much as we can.

So HELLO — is anyone out there? Is anyone listening? How can we make this a better bar? I can’t do it without you!

Thanks for checking in…


5 thoughts on “Hello, hello…is anyone out there?

  1. Mary – YOU ASKED FOR IT!
    I confess that I don’t always read your blogs but I have responded on occasion. Let me see if I can explain why I’m not responding other than the fact that I don’t always read your blog. First – I sometimes think that I don’t know anyone this year who really jumps out at me as worthy of an award. Being a member of the awards committee, we do get some outstanding submissions for great attorneys. But I’m also a firm believer that there are years when no one really stands out and feel that we should just skip making an award that year. I got the “President’s Award” a couple of years back for heading up the committee that solicited and interviewed a number of candidates for Director of the Conflict Defender Office. Being invited out for a beer would have been award enough – I’m not being humble, just sayin’ that we all have responsibilities as members of the profession to occasionally get off our duffs and volunteer.

    About the mentoring thing – I signed up years ago to be a mentor and got assigned a young attorney and I found the experience to be rewarding – I never got another call after that. I recently signed up again when the various section heads were asked to solicit volunteers for the program – I still haven’t gotten a call. Does the Bar talk to members fresh out of law school about the mentoring program? Does the Bar keep track of folks leaving the institutional providers (i.e. big lawfirms, DA Office, Public Defender Office, etc. )by paying attention to changes of address of members to remind those folks of programs and CLE’s that might be relevant (if you’re a member of the bar of course)?

    As to member benefits – frankly, that doesn’t grab me although I confess that it’s important to think about what the Bar can offer that will attract new members. See above. Maybe there should be a committee task to contact all the law schools to add a course to the mandatory ciriculum to stress the benefits and professional responsibility that comes with being a member of the profession. Maybe the bar should solicit people to sign up for brainstorming/survey type session where alcohol or food is part of the incentive to attend. Just pick folks out and call them and press them to come and send out some material for them to think about before coming to the meeting. There’s a problem that we have to admit which is that for a lot of attorneys, they have to think that there’s something in it for them before they will join, which explains why so few Public Defenders, County Attorneys and District Attorneys are members – all of their needs which include CLE’s, insurance and the like are taken care of.

    How about attracting new attorneys (and a few older ones who are leaving institutional programs like the DA’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, etc.) by offering access to a CLE (which is repeated every couple of years and video taped for future reference) in which speakers talk about how to set up the practice, what some of the different modalities there might be for a practice; marketing for a practice, what some sample retainers might look like for a real estate practice, personal injury practice, criminal practice etc. etc.

    Social Media – i recall answering a survey on that, so I haven’t felt compelled to respond further.

    Bus STop – I went to the first one – must admit I felt like a dinasour but it was okay because there was several other dinasours at the bar. I just kind of forget that it’s a monthly thing. The crowd that night was a good one in that most of them were younger folks, mostly women (what does that mean?). so I guess that I need to bookmark the event on my calendar more often. I’m a social kind of guy but I also suggest that people are more likely to come if they know a friend will be there that they can talk to. Of course this can make it less likely that they will actually talk to someone else that they don’t know – oh well.


    • Wow Paul…you are the sweetest man! And you are right, you have responded in the past. You are every where — awards, conflict defender, bar stop, etc. You are always very thoughtful Paul, and I always listen when you speak. People are out there, as I have already received a bunch of new comments. Members are both busy and thoughtful…thx M


  2. This is a tough one, Mary. Obviously, most of the members are very busy trying to put in enough billable hours, harvest clients, participate in community activities and–for many–make a real contribution to their bar association. To frame a thoughtful, meaningful, helpful response to the issues you pose requires the investment of a good deal of time–if you want your comments to be thoughtful, at least. I’m sure that the comments which you prepare so well require more than just an offhanded effort on your part. Two thoughts come to mind: 1. Request 5 minutes at the beginning of each (or most) CLEs to bring up these issues and ask the attendees to both comment then and to perhaps follow up with a further response. Maybe add a place on the CLE evaluation form for input re. how the MCBA is running, how it can be improved, etc. 2. Consider an annual “State of the Association” report to the membership where you will have an opportunity to raise whatever issues you feel are important and those attending can both respond and raise issues of their own. The $64,000 question, of course, is how to get members to turn out for such an event? Free drinks, brownies, ???? I’ll leave that problem for other minds to solve; the one thing I know is that the Law Day Luncheon and the Installation Dinner are NOT the place to try to squeeze this in!!!!
    Keep up the good work, Mary. It’s a tribute to your commitment and ability that you’re worried about this issue.


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