A bar member’s resolution

Jan. 27, 2023

President’s Message By Erica L. Laughlin

By now most of us have gotten back into the swing of things. The holiday decorations have come down and we’ve refocused our attention and intention toward personal and professional betterment in 2023.  Maybe you’ve committed to healthier eating, are participating in dry January, you’ve dusted off the Peleton or you’re working to blow out your minimum billable hour requirement. As you contemplate your 2023 resolutions, I want to challenge you to incorporate at least one resolution to enhance your membership in the ACBA. Here are a just a few things you may consider:

1. Get engaged! Attend a meeting of one of our committees, divisions or sections. We have over 70 for you to choose from! There is truly something for everyone. The offerings through our committees, divisions and sections are one of the primary benefits of your ACBA membership so take advantage.  For those of you who have always been active I encourage you to attend a meeting of a group you are less familiar or active with or take someone new to one of the groups you are familiar and active with. Visit ACBA.org/committees-divisions-sections to learn more. 

2. Attend an ACBA event (even better bring a friend with you!) and maximize the benefit of your membership by cultivating and fostering relationships with your peers. For a complete listing of ACBA events visit ACBA.org/calendar.

3. Support one of our affinity groups. Attend a meeting or event for the Asian Attorneys Committee, the Hispanic Attorneys Committee, the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, the Homer S. Brown Division, the LGBTQ+ Rights Committee, the Women in the Law Division or the Young Lawyers Division. Our affinity groups are some of our most active within the ACBA. Whether you attend a meeting or event, participate regularly, plan a program or take advantage of a sponsorship opportunity, there are countless ways to get involved and show your support. Visit ACBA.org/diversity for links to take you to each of our Affinity Group’s home pages to learn more. 

4. Plan a CLE. If you have a good idea for a program we want to hear it! Reach out to CLE and Program Manager Hannah Brizzi hbrizzi@acba.org to learn the requirements for having a program certified for credit. Hannah can connect you with an appropriate committee, division or section to help find the support you need to get your idea off the ground.

5. Give back! Our recently formed Community Service Committee would love to have your participation. The committee meets virtually the second Thursday each month from 12-1 p.m.  Contact ACBA liaison James Piaggio jpiaggio@acba.org or one of the committee co-chairs Nick Kennedy or Maggie Prescott to learn more.

6. Make a commitment to participate in the ACBA Day of Impact, an association wide community service project being scheduled for this spring. Watch the ACBA Sidebar for more details to come.

7. Dedicate at least one hour of billable time toward pro bono services and challenge other members of your firm, office or legal department to do so as well. There is a tremendous need for legal services for those less fortunate. The ACBA Public Service Committee is always looking for volunteers and can provide any necessary training or help you navigate what opportunities are available and may best suit your talents. Pro bono service is also a wonderful way for young lawyers to gain valuable hands-on practical experience. To learn how you and your office can help, contact ACBA liaison Barbara Griffin bgriffin@acba.org, or Committee Chair Kathryn McKee and visit www.pittsburghprobono.org.

8. Do an audit of your firm, office or legal department’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness.  What efforts are you making and what can you do better? Consider participating in the next cohort of the ACBA ALLY Initiative Program, which is a multi-step certification program for law firms, corporate legal departments, courts and other legal organizations committed to increasing inclusive equitable workplaces. You can also participate in the ACBA Summer Clerkship Program designed to coordinate the recruitment, application and interview process of diverse legal talent in our region.  Contact the ACBA’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Kellie Ware at kware@acba.org for more information.

9. Money always helps. Visit ACBF.org to make a donation to the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Endowment Fund. The Endowment Fund will enable the Foundation to continue its great work in providing pro bono services, awarding legal aid grants and continuing to make an impact in our community and profession.

10. Register for the Barrister’s Ball at ACBA.org/gala and register for Bench-Bar Conference (watch the Sidebar for registration information this spring). You don’t want to miss these premier events!

Not sure where to start? Call me at 412‑227‑0273. I’d welcome the opportunity to help you get the most out of your membership with our premier association.