Executive Summary: Pressing forward
Vol. 78, No. 1/ Jan. - Feb. 2022
Mischa Buford Epps
Mischa Buford Epps is executive director of The Missouri Bar.
I hope your 2022 is off to a productive and healthy start. It is hard to believe that we are quickly approaching two years since the start of the global pandemic that has seismically shifted our lifestyles and livelihoods.
As we press forward in a new year of the new normal, we are over a quarter of the way through this year’s regular session of the Missouri General Assembly. As you might imagine, this is a busy time for our Government Relations staff.
As lawyers, we know how important the legislative process is to our state, Missouri residents, and our democracy as a whole. By working with elected officials, The Missouri Bar constantly seeks to improve the law, the administration of justice, and the quality of legal services available to the public. We actively track bills of interest to the legal profession and justice system, and lawyers can access regular updates on these matters through our Legislative Engagement Center under the Government Relations tab at MoBar.org. There, lawyers can use the Bills of Interest feed to locate bills related to specific practice areas. In the weekly ESQ. newsletter, lawyers will find a link to a Legislative Update, published each week the General Assembly is in session, and all legislative updates are published at News.MoBar.org. A yearly Legislative Digest is available at the end of each summer, providing comprehensive summaries for all legislation enacted during the year, as well as tools to aid in navigating the new laws and access to other online resources.
We also make it a point to routinely connect with elected officials in the executive branch, the House, and Senate to ensure they are aware of our public resources for those they represent, including LawyerSearch; Missouri.FreeLegalAnswers.org; a variety of helpful resource guides and handbooks related to common legal matters; and other tools. Beyond that, your Board of Governors approves law improvement measures, drafted by committees of The Missouri Bar, for introduction in the Missouri General Assembly. The board and executive committee regularly review legislative proposals filed each session, which are limited to matters concerning the administration of justice, the integrity of the judiciary, improvement of the law, or the dignity of the profession of law.
If you have questions about pending legislation, you are welcome to contact our Government Relations staff at 573-659-2280 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage Missouri lawyers to directly reach out to their elected officials or connect with their Missouri Bar Board of Governors representatives on legislation within the scope previously outlined.
It’s also important that we take time to recognize the 26 Missouri lawyers – including one admitted to the bar just this past fall while serving – who are currently in the House and Senate, traveling to Jefferson City for weeks on end, sometimes while maintaining a law practice back at home. The work they do on behalf of the citizens they represent makes an impact in our communities and beyond, and their background in the law is an invaluable resource to both constituents and fellow lawmakers.
Of course, understanding the importance of our legislature and its decisions shouldn’t stop with us lawyers. Our Citizenship Education and Public Information staff are hard at work to help teachers, students, and everyday citizens even better understand government processes. Our learning resources range from fun coloring books explaining how laws are made to advanced training workshops for educators from across the state. You can find out more about these efforts here.
As professionals who are officers of the Court, it’s essential that we stay connected to and informed of the work being done in the other two branches of state government. I encourage you to get involved by sharing your thoughts or joining a Missouri Bar committee. Your ideas and contributions help improve the lives of Missouri citizens and help us better understand your professional priorities.