Remembering the purposes of the Bar
Today’s Wall Street Journal includes a good piece by Peggy Noonan, who was a speechwriter for President Reagan. In "Look Ahead With Stoicism – and Optimism," she makes the point that while many institutions of society have failed in the first decade of this century, we can rebuild them by taking personal responsibility and focusing on the core mission of the institutions in which we labor.
Next Saturday, my name will be placed in nomination for president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia, to serve as president in June 2011 to June 2012. The Georgia Bar clearly is not one of those "failed institutions" about which Noonan writes. It has had a long string of sound leadership and outstanding continuity of sound professional management by top staff.
But no institution is safe if its leaders forget their purpose. We can ill afford for anyone serving as president to drop the baton.
The stated purposes of the State Bar of Georgia are:
(a) to foster among the members of the bar of this State the principles of duty and service to the public;
(b) to improve the administration of justice; and
(c) to advance the science of law.
That is a broad statement of the mission of the organization, but one we should not forget. We must do the things implicit in those purposes, and we must do them well.
"Mission creep" can be the kudzu of any institution. As we review our programs and budget, we should keep the purposes of the Bar in focus. When we consider attractive, idealistic proposals that do not clearly relate to the core purposes of the Bar, we must ask whether they are appropriate uses of Bar members’ mandatory dues.
Ken Shigley, an Atlanta attorney, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group. His practice focuses on representing people who are catastrophically injured, and families of those killed, primarily in commercial truck and bus accidents. Mr. Shigley also has extensive experience representing parties in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine).
Mr. Shigley is treasurer of the State Bar of Georgia, of which he has been elected to become president-elect on 6/19/10 and president on 6/4/11.
For criteria to be considered in selecting an attorney, see The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Hiring a Great Lawyer.