Time to Commit

September 19, 2014
President’s Message by Jim Creenan

Summer’s end and fall’s approach usually rekindle our sense of commitment. We commit to getting back to our normal routine after cramming extra vacation and recreation during the warm summer months. We commit our devotion to sports teams. We commit to finishing the year to meet personal or the firm’s goals.

It is also time to rekindle your commitment to the bar association as we start a new bar year.

In early September each year, we orient all division, section, and committee chairs with the ACBA staff and the procedures to ensure a successful year. The orientation provides the key instructions to maximize each committee’s impact on the bar, the profession and the community. Your leaders must understand the procedures and best practices for the bar’s finance, media relations, events, CLE, and more. It is an abbreviated training camp for these fine volunteers.

These leaders graciously commit extra time, effort, and resources toward the smooth operation of the bar. They plan informative lunch ’n learns, CLEs, public service projects, and informal gatherings.

It seems obvious, but a group of lawyers might have overlooked the original meaning of the word committee – “a person to whom a charge or trust is committed.” In essence, a commit-ee.

The ACBA – your bar association – needs you to commit. There are many roles to play and seats to fill. There is much we can do to improve our legal community and our legal system. We recognize your most precious commodity is your time.

The first step is rather simple. Review the ACBA’s list of committees and decide what suits your interests. Our website – www.acba.org – lists more than 59 committees, sections, and divisions. In addition to the many substantive law areas, the bar needs talented volunteers to serve on our administrative and governance focused committees.

The second step is just as easy. Division membership is open to those members falling within the division’s scope or interest area. Section membership simply requires a dues payment. Committee membership is free but requires appointment by the President. Contact the bar and express your interest.

The third step is to measure your ability to commit. Do you have one extra hour a month? Two? We all choose how to allocate our time, and we have to balance our competing interests. I ask that you set aside at least one more hour a month to attend an extra committee meeting or event. After settling in on the committee, I suggest you contact the chair, arrive a little early or stay after the meeting to express your commitment, and, most importantly, follow up on your commitment.

Your return on investment can only be measured if you first make the commitment to help the bar carry out its mission and work to improve our legal community.

I encourage you to take at least one more hour out of your month for the bar association – you will be glad you did.