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TCL > January 1997 Issue > A Mid-Term Report

January 1997       Vol. 26, No. 1       Page  21
CBA President's Message to Members

A Mid-Term Report
by Miles Cortez


I blinked and six months scooted by. Trying to maintain a private practice of law while trying to be a passable CBA president, and vice versa, was more difficult than I anticipated. Please don’t let my clients know why I’ve been distracted from the practice; I could be looking at a negligence case. Unfortunately Chuck Turner, Greg Martin, Dana Vocate, Diane Hartman, and the rest of our outstanding bar staff know what’s going on, and they’ve grown weary of covering for me. Arlene Abady at The Colorado Lawyer no longer harbors hopes that I could possibly meet a publishing deadline. My wonderful assistant at McKenna & Cuneo, Jodi Williams, knows I’m incorrigible when it comes to adherence to a system of removing things from a plate that has grown too full. Even my wife Jan just looks at me and shakes her head with a resignation born of an understanding possessed only by a spouse who cares. Most grateful is our very able CBA president-elect, Rebecca Koppes Conway of Greeley, who watches the goings-on in the comfortable knowledge that mine will be a very easy act to follow.

Status of the Agenda

Those who preceded me in this job can chuckle at my naiveté. They’ve "been there, done that." They advised what to guard against, offered guidance while giving me room to chart my own course, and observed. I continue to seek their advice. Six months ago, my first "President’s Message"1 presented the agenda to which I adhere. Much has been accomplished, but much remains to be done. With this issue of The Colorado Lawyer, we begin the CBA’s centennial year, and we promise you an eventful, celebratory year. Our special Centennial Committee is co-chaired by two of the lions of the profession, Bill McClearn and Larry DeMuth, and they have a head start in the planning process.

Thanks to the formidable leadership of Dale Harris, the Family Violence Task Force has begun its efforts to mobilize the CBA to contribute meaningfully to the war against the horrors of spousal abuse, child abuse, and abuse of the elderly. Volunteers from throughout the state have answered the call for assistance. Occasionally, my judgment is correct: we have extraordinary lawyers in this state, ready to do what needs to be done. This will be a long-term commitment. In the short-term, the CBA, and numerous first-class organizations and individuals who share our goals, will marshal forces to persuade the 1997 session of the Colorado legislature to fund legal services programs, which daily protect the victims of family violence. The bill is ready to go, and I’m optimistic it will garner bipartisan support. We will be calling on the membership to assist us in the legislative effort.

Thanks to Tom Seawell’s stewardship and the willingness of the CBA Board of Governors to commit significant human and financial resources, the CBA’s commitment to technological advancement and leadership is bearing fruit. The new year finds the CBA a pacesetter among state bar associations in terms of technological competence, not only with respect to its abilities inter se, but in its ability to assist and educate elements of its membership still behind the technology curve.

In December, I watched an eager cross-section of the 13th Judicial District Bar Association spend an hour in Judge Leh’s courtroom learning from Mel Reveles of the CBA staff how lawyers can use the Internet to improve their practice skills. As this new year begins, resolve that you will not let another year pass without being fully computer literate and Internet-wise. Give yourself 1997 to find the cure to technology illiteracy. The CBA can and will help you; it has the resources and the commitment. If you have a matching commitment, you can prevent being left in the dust as we approach the millennium. The Alaskans say it most vividly: "If you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes." Mush!

Thanks to the steady efforts of Susan Fisher, Bob Hill, Diane Hartman, and Steve Ezell and his Professionalism Committee, we have taken constructive steps in addressing the troublesome issues of professionalism, civility, and the poor image of lawyers. No quick solutions here, but we will not duck the problems simply because they are pernicious, chronic, and difficult to address. We will consider in 1997 the refinement and expansion of statewide professionalism standards.

It is my hope and expectation that our Board of Governors also will recommend to the Colorado Supreme Court that it modernize, and render more relevant, the oath of admission by new lawyers. Have you had a recent opportunity to review the existing one? An "s" might as well look like an "f"—it sounds so antiquated! A change need not be simply symbolic; it can be made much more relevant, while being as aspirational in character as it must necessarily be.

Bar Visitations Make It All Worthwhile

The best part of my job during the first half of my tenure has been the visitations to the local bars around the state. "Clueless" is the most charitable term I can use to describe my 17th Street Denver lawyer’s grasp of issues important to the non-metropolitan bars around the state. Fortunately, the CBA’s by-laws require that the president visit each and every local bar association around the state. Without such exposure, I would be even more ignorant of the vast differences in the way law is practiced elsewhere, and the needs of the bar and judiciary outside the metropolitan areas.

Most impressive is the way lawyers deal with each other in smaller local bars. Because they deal with each other day in, day out, the notion that they could treat each other unprofessionally or without civility is quite foreign to their practices. Familiarity does not breed contempt in such bars; it breeds respect and civility. Meeting colleagues in Delta, Cortez, Durango, Cañon City, Sterling, Montrose, Glenwood Springs, Trinidad, Alamosa, Steamboat Springs, Douglas County and Elbert County, and those in the larger bars around the state (Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Grand Junction) is the highlight of a bar president’s year.

‘Nuff said. I need to get back to work, and you need to start reading more substantive parts of The Colorado Lawyer, our flagship publication. May 1997 see us progress in our consistent quest to restore professionalism and civility, improve our abilities and willingness to serve those in need, improve our professional and technological skills, and to find greater peace and satisfaction with ourselves, our families, and our profession. Happy New Year!

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