From the President: ‘Would You Do It Again?’ and ‘What’s Next?’
by Ilene Lin Bloom
It is truly hard to believe this is my last Denver Bar Association president’s column. As I get ready to complete my term as president, the most common question I hear is, “Would you do it again?” I can say emphatically, that yes, I would do it again.
In February 2010, when Paul Chan called to inform me that I had been nominated for the position of president of the Denver Bar Association, I was eight months pregnant with my second child and my first child was not yet even 2. I thought about it quite a bit, decided the “time is now,” and accepted the nomination. After my daughter Harper was born a few weeks later, I thought (in relation to agreeing to the presidency), “What did I just do?!”
That thought went away because by the time I actually became president a year-and-a-half later, my daughter was no longer a newborn. However, by then I also was caring for my terminally ill father in my home, along with my two little ones. The point I am trying to make is that there is never an ideal time to accept a responsibility such as the DBA presidency, and although things might not be as dramatic as what was happening in my family, there is always something that comes up.
I honestly believe in “the time is now” mentality and feel grateful that I had such a role in the bar association, no matter when it was. And yes, I would do it again under similar circumstances. No matter what was going on, I had the full support of the bar association staff and our members, not to mention the extraordinary support of my husband, JJ Henrikson.
Many people also are curious to know how much time was spent on my bar association responsibilities. Thank goodness I was not required to keep track as in a law practice! All I can say is that there was something to either do or think about every day.
Some weeks were busier than others. My time was spent working closely with the bar staff on whatever “came up,” thinking about how to assist our members, volunteering at bar-related events, preparing for meetings with the DBA Board of Trustees, attending DBA committee meetings, fundraising for the Barristers Benefit Ball to benefit Metro Volunteer Lawyers, and attending community functions on behalf of the DBA. And, of course, writing my monthly column. This list is not exhaustive, but these activities are what stand out to me.
People also have been asking me whether I am “sad” that my term is over. It is bittersweet. In some ways, I think one year as president is not enough, but two years probably would be too long. Of course, right when I feel the most comfortable is the time to move forward. I thought going in that there was likely some room for some drama or politics in this position, and I can honestly say that I did not have to deal with that. I think it has been a smooth and positive year for the bar association. Here are some of the highlights for me:
Access to Justice Initiatives: It was exciting to develop and implement the DBA Pro Bono Initiative with a great group of volunteers. By now, you should have received an email rolling out the DBA Pro Bono Initiative to our members. Through this service, the DBA will assist you one-on-one by phone, via email, online, or in person to help you identify pro bono opportunities that suit your individual needs. We sincerely hope you will take advantage of this new service for our members, especially in this time of a legal aid crisis. In addition, the Denver Access to Justice Committee has continued to do great work in increasing access to justice in our community through several successful legal clinics and other projects. The committee is always exploring ways to help those who need access to justice the most.
New Directions for Diversity: The Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee is expanding its “pipeline” work to include sponsorship and oversight of the Dream Teams, made up of law students and lawyers, and anchored by judges who volunteer in community projects to encourage more diverse youths to consider law as a career. The committee also is planning to expand its programming to serve both smaller firms and firms outside the Denver metro area.
The Joint Judicial Task Force: It is extremely important for the DBA to continue its efforts to support a fair and impartial judiciary. Through the Joint Judicial Task Force, the bar is working hard to further educate Colorado’s citizens about the state’s merit selection system and to monitor and respond to future attacks on the judiciary.
Mentoring: The DBA is assisting with one of the pilot mentoring programs for the Chief Justice Commission on the Legal Profession. If things go well in Denver and in the other pilot programs, a successful mentoring program will go statewide. In Denver, 83 pairs of young and established attorneys signed up for the program; this is a great start!
Seniors: Getting to know some of the senior attorneys in our profession through Seniors Committee events has truly been a highlight for me. The wisdom and experience of senior attorneys should be an inspiration to us all. Please take the time to get to know some of the senior members of our profession.
A Word of Thanks: All of the DBA committees did amazing work in the past year. I am thankful to all of the chairs and members of the committees for working so hard during my term. We will highlight the work of all of the committees in the DBA annual report, which will appear in the September issue of The Docket.
I also would like to thank the members of the Board of Trustees for dutifully coming to early morning meetings once a month and participating wholeheartedly. I could not have done my job without the nonjudgmental assistance of the leadership and the staff of the bar, including Chuck Turner, Greg Martin, and Dana Collier Smith. Although it might be fun, I think it cannot be easy having a brand new president every year, each with his or her own personality and goals.
Lastly, thank you to all of our members. You are the Denver Bar Association. Nothing would happen without your support and participation. It has been amazing to lead such a strong voluntary bar association. Best wishes to our incoming president, Jim Benjamin. I hope you will give him the same level of support you gave me.
What’s next? Many people have also asked me this question. I certainly will not be disappearing from the DBA! It is exciting to think about what is next. All I can say for sure is this: Two weeks after my term as president ends, I am leaving for a two-week self-supported bike trip with my family in Yellowstone National Park. More on that in a future issue of The Docket!
I hope that in the future when you consider taking on a role with a community organization or the DBA that you’ll remember there never is a “right” time to take on more, but the good you can do now will make a real impact in someone’s life. If you are interested in trying something new, remember, the time is now! D