Vol. 43, No. 8
In and Around the Bar
CBA President's Message to Members
The Future Begins Now—Let’s Start Building It Today
by Charles F. Garcia
As I write my first CBA President’s Message, I am just a couple weeks away from the start of my term. The next year is going to be a busy one for the Association as we face many new beginnings.
One forthcoming change involves Chuck Turner, who has served as the Executive Director of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations for thirty-four years. Chuck recently announced his retirement effective January 1, 2015. Other CBA Presidents have used this forum to laud the man and his leadership, and I expect to do the same soon.
The CBA also recently bid a reluctant but fond farewell to Michael Valdez, the Director of Legislative Relations for the past twenty-two-and-a-half years. Michael’s stellar efforts to monitor bills of interest to the bar and to effectively assert the bar’s position in the legislative process cannot be touted enough. His presence as a CBA representative will be sorely missed in the workings at the State Capitol and the Colorado Legislature, as well as at the CBA offices. We wish Michael success and happiness in his new endeavors.
These two big changes at the Association are happening as I plan to work to ensure that the Association continues to lead Colorado’s legal profession into the future. I’d like to give you a brief and general idea of what the forthcoming year holds for me and for you.
Begin With Thanks
I want to begin my first Message by thanking the many members and staff who already have been working to make my term meaningful to the Association. Their efforts have made my transition a smooth one. I thank CBA Communications and Marketing Manager Alexa Drago for her amazing work on the new president’s profile, which printed in the July issue of The Colorado Lawyer,1 as well as on other correspondences delivered on my behalf.
Honor in Our Profession
I am grateful to be a member of such an honorable profession. I think about the many times former CBA President Mark Fogg told me and all of you in his President’s Messages and talks around the state how proud he is to be a lawyer. He carried that message loud and clear throughout his tenure as CBA president. I believe pride in our profession is the cornerstone of all of the work we do—from professionalism to mentoring to providing access to justice for all.
I had the privilege of traveling with Immediate Past CBA President Terry Ruckriegle during his presidency. I have learned much by observing and listening to him speak about his love of the law, about the importance of professionalism inside and outside the courtroom, and about how improving bar–bench communications will in turn improve the practice of law. At every visit, Judge Ruckriegle was ready to praise the work attorneys do within the community. One program he was especially proud of was the CBA’s Colorado Flood Relief Program. This program, which provided legal assistance to victims and survivors of Colorado’s devastating floods, is a recipient of the American Bar Association’s prestigious Harrison Tweed Award. This is one huge example of how members of the legal profession work in the community for the greater good.
We have so many reasons to be proud of ourselves and our profession. During my administration, I look forward to hearing what you have to say about things we all can do to help us grow and thrive as individuals and as a profession.
The Future is Now
I am beginning my term by forming a committee to look at the future of the Association, starting with examining the relevance of the many CBA programs that already exist. This committee will examine, confirm, reevaluate, and create priorities that will be critical to the ongoing success of the CBA. The committee will solicit feedback from all of our members. I understand that not everyone can serve on this or other committees, but I encourage input from everyone.
Challenges With Constructive Solutions
The two biggest challenges I see to creating and sustaining a healthy future of the Association and the Colorado legal profession are building the future of our young lawyers and expanding the availability of legal services to the underserved. I hope to bring our young members into leadership roles within the Association, because I believe the future is in their hands. Data from the Colorado Office of Attorney Registration reveals that nearly half of the active lawyers in Colorado are 50 years old and older. I believe we can benefit greatly by making sure that the ideas and opinions of our young lawyers are heard and that they are mentored in the practice by more experienced lawyers.
Our past CBA presidents have initiated some wonderful programs that already are making their marks on the profession. The mentor program, the modest means program, and the veterans program are three programs that will continue with your help. These programs, along with every program within the CBA, need to be established and grown within the local bar associations. We need to involve members from Cortez to Sterling and from Lamar to Steamboat Springs. We recognize that these programs will take on unique forms depending on the demographics of the community; consequently, we must ensure that the programs fit the needs of the local bar.
Communication Makes Us Stronger
I am beginning my year with visits to the Western Slope and then moving gradually east across the state with the change in seasons. This is the part of the job I look forward to the most. Judges from across the state will join us to talk about the needs of the courts, the legal community, and the greater community. I feel we—both the bar and the bench—need to become more active in our communities. Our sense of community goes to the core of ensuring trust and honor in our profession.
One of the greatest joys of my role as CBA president is to meet the members throughout the state who make up this organization. I truly enjoy meeting other lawyers wherever I go. I know I will not see all of you as I travel, but I hope to hear from as many of you as possible. I ask that members contact me throughout the year with your thoughts on how to move the Association forward.2
COBALT—Creating Leaders for Our Communities
One program I consider very important is COBALT, the CBA’s leadership training program. COBALT is designed to help develop leaders within the Association who will take those leadership qualities to the communities where they live and practice. Many of today’s public and private industry leaders are lawyers. Also, our communities look to its lawyers to participate as leaders in nonprofits, in public service, and of course in legal services. It is our duty to our communities and our profession to provide that leadership on an ongoing basis.
Improving the Practice of Law One Member at a Time
Years ago, CBA members consistently named The Colorado Lawyer as the most important benefit. Times change, and now members name Casemaker as the most important benefit. I suspect that in the not too distant future, something new will rise to the top of the list. I want to hear from you what you value about your Association membership. Our goal is for the Association to continue to be relevant to you and your practice, and we can’t know for sure what helps you if you don’t tell us.
I visited with the CBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Executive Council recently and listened to the visions of these members for the Association. One idea in a YLD membership survey that caught my attention was to create a "Bar Buddy" program, where new members work with an experienced member, who would show them valuable aspects of bar membership and help them to get involved. I took away from this survey a couple of other ideas, as well: (1) we can look at how more experienced lawyers can help young lawyers beyond the mentoring program to consider them in our succession planning; and (2) we need to understand what the term "get involved" actually means—we should ask ourselves how we can become more involved in the profession, the Association, and our community.
Moving Forward With Pride and New Energy
This promises to be a very exciting year for the Association, and I am extremely proud to be part of it. The profession and the way we deliver legal services are changing rapidly. The CBA will lead the way in supplying new energy during the transition, which will result in a strong Association we can participate in with pride.
As we journey together along this uncertain path, let’s take time to enjoy the journey. Our profession is healthy and it is fun! I have long believed if you are not having fun, you must not be doing it right. Let’s join together to have fun and do it right.
1. Drago, "Profile of the 2014–15 CBA President: Charles F. Garcia—Let the Conversations Begin," 43 The Colorado Lawyer 5 (July 2014), www.cobar.org/tcl/tcl_articles.cfm?articleid=8579.
2. I invite you to call me directly at (303) 483-8901; write to me in care of the CBA at 1900 Grant St., Ste. 900, Denver 80203; or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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