December 26, 2014 President’s Message
Practice for Success program shines light on ACBA leaders

by Jim Creenan

A tremendous thing happened this fall when dozens of the bar’s top practitioners led various panel discussions on core practice areas for younger attorneys.

They set aside time from their practices to give hands-on instruction as part of the bar’s skill-based training initiative called Practice for Success. The simple goal was to instill the fundamental approaches necessary for newly minted attorneys to gain the knowledge and confidence to handle the public’s growing unmet legal needs.

A recent report from the American Bar Association found that 52 percent of moderate-income households faced at least one legal need. However, many clients of moderate means never seek legal advice. In fact, two-thirds of households with legal needs did not turn to the legal system.

Middle-income households most frequently responded through self-help, with 42 percent reporting they had handled legal matters on their own. Approximately 25 percent of respondents took no action at all or turned to non-legal advisers for assistance.

By all accounts, the two-day Practice for Success program was effective. The unsung heroes behind the program’s success are ACBA employees Dorie Schnippert, Howard Booth and Marty Barron. Each did a great job of ensuring a first-rate program.

Schnippert worked with the planning team over the course of a full year, while Booth expertly manned the logistics, and Barron had the tall task of video recording the panel discussions for future online use. Tom Loftus, director of marketing and media relations for the ACBA, and his crew should be commended for selecting a catchy name and developing expert promotional materials.

The panel sessions will be among the first made available through the ACBA’s online Continuing Legal Education portal, which will be rolled out in the next few months.

The ACBA’s Young Lawyers Division kicked off the robust program with a series of discussions beginning with Michael McKeever from the Department of Court Records addressing electronic filing.

An insightful session on starting your own firm was presented by Sam Yamron, Krutika Patel Sharma and Michelle Logan.

Another discussion, “Working in the Legal Setting,” was presented by Joe Williams, Elizabeth Slaby, Kate Diersen, Mandi Scott and Kirsha Weyandt Trychta. Kristine Carpenter served as the moderator.

The other bar stars of the Practice for Success program included the criminal litigation team of Simquita Bridges, Elliot Howsie, William F. Caye II, David Spurgeon, Charles Porter, David J. Shrager, Jennifer DiGiovanni, Kevin McCarthy, Stacey Steiner, Douglas Sughrue, and Kirsha Weyandt Trychta.

The stars on the civil litigation team included Bethann Lloyd, Joe Froechtel, Chris Channel and Tony Thompson.

Taking part on the estate planning and probation team were Dan Johnson, Carol Sikov Gross, Dan Buzard, Matt Schwartz, Aubrey Glover and Tom Dempsey. Each shared a depth of knowledge on critical issues.

Helping on the real property team were Thomas Reilly, Brad Dornish, David Tkacik, Sue Swick, Patricia Brady Rodella, Matthew Lasek and Andrew Graham. Even experienced practitioners could have learned a few tips on residential real estate closings and landlord-tenant law.

Presenting information on family law were Mary K. McDonald, Nicola Henry-Taylor, Lisa Petruzzi, Brian Rosinski, Elizabeth Hughes, Amy Ross, Melanie Burrows, Patrick Quinn and Geraldine Redic.

The Practice for Success program culminated with a presentation on legal writing by Victoria Vidt.

About 50 people attended and benefitted from the program. Even more significantly, the ACBA benefitted from the chance to showcase the diverse and talented leaders of its substantive law sections.

The program is a proud achievement for our bar association. These leaders showed us one of the great benefits of bar association membership. A big “thank you” goes out to all who participated.