11:40 AM

Redesigning the ways we serve you

A message from The Missouri Bar president

Last week, more than 2,000 Missouri lawyers participated across the 32 committee and section meetings The Missouri Bar hosted virtually. That is five times the number of lawyers who benefitted from education and networking opportunities than compared to our past in-person committee meetings in Jefferson City. We are currently redesigning our Annual Meeting, which will remain virtual this year to build on the success of our virtual Committee Meetings. Using new platforms to connect is just one of the ways our bar has adapted over the past 14 months. The following are other decisions your Board of Governors recently made to redesign the ways we help improve the profession and the clients you serve. 

Redesigning access to justice through tech grants 
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the legal community in a variety of ways, including access to justice and the nonprofit arena. The Board of Governors last week approved 18 COVID-19 Assistance Grants to disperse more than $136,000 to Missouri courts and nonprofits. The grants fund technology-based needs and projects aimed at increasing access to justice by ensuring that technology is available to both courts and nonprofit providers of legal services across the state.

The grants approved to date benefit communities across the state. Most grant requests identified equipment needs to support virtual programs. Some examples include maintaining virtual domestic violence survivor support groups, courtroom audio and video updates, and equipment and software to support lawyers and citizens for remote appearances. Grant opportunities will continue to be available until the program funding is depleted. The grant program is funded by a portion of pro hac vice fees received by the state bar. Access the application here. 

Strategic planning spurs redesign of the Annual Report 
While use of executive function by organizations can be less than stellar, The Missouri Bar Board of Governors met extensively in 2017 to develop a strategic direction for the bar, which is available for review on our website. Even better, our strategic plan is frequently revisited, regularly reviewed, and often cited during discussion of just about anything we do. The plan also provides a backdrop to the board’s annual review of approximately one-third of all activities of The Missouri Bar (on a rolling basis) and consideration of adjustment, expansion, or even termination of existing projects. This review process is possible thanks to the yeoman's work of the governors who serve on the board’s Strategic Planning Committee. 

Of course, these nuts-and-bolts discussions - always with an appreciation for the bottom line - are not something you often see, but we have engaged in a focused effort to keep our strategic direction part of any discussion about where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. This year, we redesigned the format of the Annual Report to demonstrate how these projects are associated with our strategic direction. Each program is tied to the goals and strategies established by the board in 2017. Ultimately, it is our hope that the annual report communicates the time and consideration spent by the board, executive committee, and officers of The Missouri Bar in operating for the benefit of our members and the citizens of Missouri. 

#WellbeingWeekInLaw reminds us our best work starts with us 
The board also heard about the activities of the Lawyers Living Well Special Committee from Governor and Special Committee Chair Athena Dickson. The special committee created educational and support activities for each of the pillars of wellness for Well-Being Week in Law during the first week of May. This dedicated week is a national observation aimed at raising awareness of mental health and encouraging action and innovation across the profession to improve well-being. Learn more about these pillars of wellness here.

The judges and lawyers involved in this project are engaged for the best of reasons: solely to help others. And the week’s activities were just the start of the reach of this special committee. 

Your focus on your well-being should not begin and end with this singular week. The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program is a free, confidential counseling service lawyers, judges, law students, and their immediate family members can access 24/7 by calling 1-800-688-7859 or visiting MoBar.org/MOLAP. Stay connected and inspired through the bar’s online community for lawyers where you can discuss self-care, mindfulness, and more in a supportive environment of your peers (join the Lawyers Living Well discussion group).  

As always, contact me with your concerns, ideas, or just to chat.

Please take care of yourselves and each other,

John Gunn, 2020-21 Missouri Bar President