“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” Robert C. Gallagher.
A few years ago, the Socials Committee (which I chaired) decided it was time to shake things up at the Holiday Party. In a bold stroke of genius, we hired a DJ instead of the traditional Joe Muscolino Band. But as soon as the DJ started playing “Get Ur Freak On,” we knew we had made a terrible mistake. Shell-shocked, we naively hoped our members did not notice that it was a complete disaster. We lived in this fantasy world for approximately two weeks. And then the engraved “thank you” note arrived. At first I was thrilled. In all my years on the Socials Committee, I had never received a thank you note. My excitement, however, quickly faded. Using such words as “shameful” and “embarrassing” to describe our attempt to liven up the party, we were admonished to “maintain our established traditions into the future,” including the “live orchestra.” I had two immediate thoughts, the first of which is not printable. The second was that he was dead wrong. And exactly right.
The SLCBA has a long tradition of providing valuable educational, charitable, and social opportunities for its members. Although maintaining these traditions does not necessarily mean that we should never try something new or attempt to improve our events, it does mean that we should keep in mind why we exist, what we hope to accomplish, and how best to foster that sense of collegiality and camaraderie that has been the hallmark of SLCBA. With that preface, let me tell you about some of the changes we’ve made in the past few years and some of the new initiatives we are implementing this year, all in an effort to broaden our reach, better serve our members, and make the practice a law a little bit more fun.
As you may have guessed from the fact that you’re receiving an electronic copy of the Bar & Bench, the SLCBA has gone “green.” From CLE announcements to Holiday Party invitations, the SLCBA’s primary mode of communication will now be email. Instead of spending money on printing and postage, we hope to be able to spend more of our limited resources on fabulous parties, interesting CLE lunches, and informative issues of the Bar & Bench. Speaking of the Bar & Bench, Kristine Larsen, Phil Dracht, Rita Cornish, Chandler Thompson, and Clemens Landau serve on this Committee and welcome any suggestions that you might have for articles or contests.
We moved our CLE lunches from the Marriott Hotel to the Wasatch Conference Center at the Episcopal Church Center. While there were some minor glitches with parking last year which (hopefully) have been resolved, we expect that the change will allow us to continue to provide high quality CLE lunches at a low cost our members. We also believe that this venue is a better fit for our planned CLE lunches this year, which are intended to provide our members with opportunities to interact with, and be educated by, the judiciary in a more interactive and informal setting. Our CLE Committee is comprised of Shane Hillman, Judge Michele Christiansen, Judge Julie Lund, Chris Hogle, and Trystan Smith.
The SLCBA has also joined the social media revolution. In addition to our website (www.slcba.net), the SLCBA now has a Facebook page and a LinkedIn group. Please “like us” and “join us” so we can keep you informed of upcoming events. Also, for those who would like to take a trip down SLCBA memory lane, we’ve got photos from SLCBA events and past editions of Bar & Bench. Lauren Shurman is leading this effort along with Aida Neimarlija.
Two years ago, the SLCBA discontinued the charity golf tournament and replaced it with a silent auction (aka drunken competitive shopping) at the Spring Dinner and Election of Officers, which we moved back to the Salt Lake Country Club. Now, instead of getting a triple bogey on the 18th hole, you can get a wine basket or a 2-night stay at a luxurious hotel. More importantly, as a result of the generosity of our members (with a little assistance from our signature cocktails), we have raised over $6,000 for the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center.
Our other SLCBA social events have proven the old adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A few weeks ago, the SLCBA hosted its annual New Lawyers Reception at the Alta Club. Close to 200 judges and practicing lawyers joined us in welcoming our “new admittees” to the Utah State Bar. What a great way to introduce new lawyers to the practice of law and to our professional community. Our 2011 Holiday Party “sold out” in a few days and is expected to be “the” event of the holiday season. The Socials Committee (from which I was immediately banned after the DJ fiasco) is headed by Jonathan Pappasideris with assistance from Mark Kittrell and Bart Johnson.
We’re also implementing some new initiatives in an effort to more fully engage our members and to increase our presence in the Salt Lake community. This year, we co-hosted a tailgating party at the S.J. Quinney College of Law prior to the Utah v. Washington football game. It was a great opportunity for law students to meet practicing lawyers in an informal setting and learn more about what the SLCBA has to offer them. We intend to plan a similar “get to know the SLCBA” event at the J. Reuben Clark Law School in the near future.
We also are exploring ways to expand the reach of our Art & the Law program and make it more educational (and relevant) for students, particularly at-risk junior high students who may have already encountered the court system as a result of their personal circumstances. We believe that this year’s Law Day theme – “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom” – provides us with a unique opportunity to engage these students in a discussion of the important role courts and lawyers play in assuring access to justice, preventing vigilante justice, and overcoming language, economic and other barriers. If you are interested in helping us with the Art & the Law program, please contact Rick Ensor or Jennifer Mastrorocco.
Finally, the SLCBA officers this year are Vice President Bob Shelby (email@example.com), Secretary Anneliese Booher (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Treasurer Amy Sorenson (email@example.com). We welcome your comments and suggestions. We’re even happy to receive your “thank you” notes – just make sure they are addressed to “VP Shelby.”