09:25 AM

Executive Summary: Silver linings

Vol. 76, No. 6 / Nov. - Dec. 2020

Mischa Buford EppsMischa Buford Epps

Mischa Buford Epps is executive director of The Missouri Bar.


Those of you who attended the Strategies for Well-Being: Now More Than Ever session at this year’s virtual Annual Meeting may recall speaker Bree Buchanan sharing the graphic shown here. This graphic reflects results of a study that found, after a six-month period, people who kept a gratitude journal listing items for which they are grateful on a regular basis were happier than those who won the lottery.

Journal - Gratitude

Since listening to that session, I have been filling the pages of my gratitude journal. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented events and change, but we are grateful for many silver linings, and we are grateful for you, our members.

I wanted to share with you a few of the silver-lining changes of this extraordinary year as we strive to provide helpful services and resources to our members and the public.

Even before the arrival of COVID-19, change was afoot at your bar as we launched new technologies to enable us to even better serve you. Among these new technologies was a redesigned website that is easier to navigate and more responsive across all devices for visitors to the site. We also launched a new MoBarCLE online catalog and learning management system. Using this new platform and working with our fantastic members who volunteer to speak, moderate, and plan, MoBar staff have adeptly transitioned our 2020 CLE programs and conferences to virtual formats, continuing to provide robust, relevant CLE to aid you in your practice.

Filing your minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) compliance report has never been easier than with our new MCLE reporting system. Many of you have contacted us about the benefits of the new system. We appreciate you sharing your user experience and suggestions.

As COVID-19 upended life as we knew it, then-President Tom Bender established a COVID-19 Response Task Force which has listened to the needs of members and made recommendations to bar leadership and the Supreme Court of Missouri on issues related to court operations and challenges faced by practitioners and their clients due to the pandemic. Led by Task Force members, we have also provided webinars at no charge on timely topics such as remote notarization and jury trials in a pandemic. We anticipate these efforts will continue as the challenges presented by the pandemic continue to evolve.

In the spring, to assist members in satisfying their MCLE requirements, we offered up to five free COVID-19 related CLE programs to members, including ethics and diversity/inclusion/elimination of bias programs. From May to the end of the 2020 compliance year in September, over 18,000 hours of CLE were provided through this program to our members.

Lawyers are here to help, as evidenced by the many members who have stepped up to assist those in need through our online legal clinic, Missouri.FreeLegalAnswers.org. Since the beginning of the year, many of you have helped over 1,500 Missourians of modest means with legal questions. Thank you to the members who are already involved. It is not too late. If you are able, please consider joining in and volunteering to answer questions at Missouri.FreeLegalAnswers.org.

We missed the opportunity to see you in person in Kansas City for the 2020 Annual Meeting and Judicial Conference. However, we were ecstatic that more than 2,280 of you joined us during the three-day lunchtime National Speaker Series. The leadership ceremony video, including Chief Justice George Draper III’s speech and special recognitions, is available to view at mobar.org.

Fall saw the launch of our new Special Committee on Lawyers of Color in the Profession, which is working to identify and recommend programs to help increase the retention, advancement, and promotion of lawyers of color in our state. In addition, Chief Justice Draper and President John Gunn convened a diverse cross-section of stakeholders for a Roundtable on Lawyer Well-Being in Missouri to jumpstart efforts to improve the well-being of our membership. The Board of Governors looks forward to considering these groups’ recommendations to address these important issues impacting the daily lives of our members and our profession as a whole.

We also are excited to offer a new law practice management benefit providing advice for opening, growing, managing, protecting, and winding down your practice. More than 150 white papers, articles, checklists, and other resources are available to members on the LPM page. Members can also take advantage of free 30-minute, one-on-one video/phone consultations with an expert, as well as unlimited email support. Questions can be about anything related to running a law firm: technology, management, leadership, software selection, process mapping – you name it. Learn more at mobar.org/LPM.

Lastly, a bittersweet silver lining worthy of recognition in this issue quickly approaches for our friend and colleague, Gary Toohey, as he prepares to retire at year’s end after 36 years of work at the bar. Gary’s primary role at the bar has been as editor of the Journal of The Missouri Bar, but he has worn a number of other hats as well, including writer for other bar publications like Dialogue and Precedent, staff liaison to the board’s Appointments Committee and the independent Judicial Performance Review Committee, photographer, bar historian, creator of resolutions and programs for numerous bar events, and a helpful hand at bar meetings big and small. We will miss Gary and are grateful for his longtime service and dedication.

Despite the uncertainties of this time, we remain focused on our goal to help you better serve your clients and to improve the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. Whatever changes you have experienced in your life and practice this year, I hope there are at least a few silver linings that you can list in your gratitude journal to bring you renewed energy and joy. I wish you and your family health and happiness during the holidays and throughout 2021.

Best regards,