President's Message July/August 2017




What Has the Rhode Island Bar Association Done for me Lately?
Linda Rekas Sloan, Esq.

President, Rhode Island Bar Association

I am asking for your stewardship by your active participation and engagement in RIBA which will in turn solidify and strengthen the bonds of our legal community.  Those bonds are tested by increased legal specialization, social change, economic pressure, political polarization and the impersonality of modern technology.
   
Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It is my honor to serve this great organization and our members. The concept of service is ingrained in our profession. We serve our clients daily. We serve the indigent and vulnerable through pro bono work. We serve the legal system by maintaining high standards of professionalism. We serve each other through collegiality and mentorship, and through active involvement in the Rhode Island Bar Association (RIBA).

The mission of RIBA is to serve its members. We live in a time of rapid, and sometimes unsettling, legal, economic and technological change. Our profession is changing and RIBA is changing alongside it to support our members and the Rhode Island legal community. This reality motivated RIBA to update its strategic plan, so a workgroup was formed and is in the process of creating the new strategic plan as I am writing this message. However, projects like developing a long term strategic plan sometimes sound like unicorns and rainbows. Sure, the Bar Association should “facilitate access to justice”, but what does that mean to most lawyers in their daily lives?

One of my goals for my term as your president is to make RIBA a relevant and exciting organization that serves as the hub of our legal community.  I want you to feel connected to your Bar Association.  Instead of it just being another check you must write because we are a mandatory bar, instead of people on the Listserv complaining, “What has the Bar Association done for me lately?”, I would like to preemptively start doing things that will help lawyers in their daily lives. Here are some things I am planning on doing:   
•    We are looking for vendors to provide training on how to use Windows 10, Microsoft Office 365, Word, Excel and social media.
•    We formed a task force to gather all concerns about e-filing so that the information can be organized and presented to the appropriate representatives of the Court.
•    We will begin taking your individual photos to update your profiles on the RIBA website.
•    We will have a new section in the Bar Journal focusing on health and wellness.
•    We will add programming to enrich your lives, like how to write a fiction novel.  I know some of you have a John Grisham-like novel in you!
Another prominent theme for my year that I will write about in future messages is the philosophy of “paying it forward”. We learned how to be professionals by example and by association with leaders of our bar and our legal community. Now it is our responsibility to give back and ensure that current and future generations of young lawyers, women lawyers and minority lawyers have a strong and vibrant Bar Association to provide those same opportunities, practice tips and sage advice. I have had some wonderful mentors who have shaped my career and I am forever indebted to them for the lessons learned. I want to appeal to your hearts by reminding you that someone once took the time to teach you when you were a new attorney and I am asking you to pay it forward by taking the time to offer advice or even train a new lawyer. Go out of your way to encourage a woman lawyer. It just may shape the path of their career and…, it’s the right thing to do in our learned profession.

Finally, I want to talk about our health. Being a lawyer is a high-stress job. Our focus is always on the client’s problems and the “to do” list is ever growing.  However, in addition to serving our clients, we must also pay attention to our own mental, emotional, and physical health. We as a profession are failing at this. My dear brothers and sisters, our time on this earth is short.  I want you to enjoy your life and be happy.

But I need your help. The success of this organization lies with each of us – its members. What is your role? Two words:  Stewardship and Community.  So, I am asking for your stewardship by your active participation and engagement in RIBA which will in turn solidify and strengthen the bonds of our legal community.  Those bonds are tested by increased legal specialization, social change, economic pressure, political polarization and the impersonality of modern technology. All of this leads to a lack of connection and cohesion, which causes stress and dissatisfaction in our professional lives. We don’t get together enough.  We don’t talk to one another enough. As a result, we lose touch of what we have in common – that fundamental commitment to service. Let’s do more – together.

I am excited by what lies ahead. I commit to making RIBA not only a valuable resource, but a home, for each of our members and to leave this fine organization better and stronger than we found it.