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MSBA Membership Committee
1997-98 Annual Report

The Membership Committee had an extremely active year. The committee was organized into active working subcommittees, each of which directed its efforts at particular segments of the bar community. The 1997-98 Membership Subcommittees were: law students, large law firms, new lawyers, non-attorneys, public and government attorneys, and solo/small law firms. Here is a brief summary of the subcommittees efforts over the last year:

Public/Goverment: The Public Law/Government Attorneys Subcommittee did not formally meet as a subcommittee during 1997-98; however, the Public Law Section Executive (PLS) Council held continuing discussions about membership issues and I served as a liaison between the PLS Executive Council and the Membership Committee. In effect, the PLS Executive Council functioned as the Public Law/Government Attorneys Subcommittee. The goals of the PLS regarding membership continued to be to: 1.) increase the involvement of public lawyers in the MSBA; 2.) reverse drops in membership; 3.) propose ways in which the MSBA can enhance its value to public lawyers; and 4.) identify the unique needs of public lawyers.

Law Students: As in past years, the Law Student Subcommittee held receptions at each of the law schools. Last year, Hamline University and William Mitchell sponsored education forums in conjunction with the receptions. This year, we sought to increase the MSBA's presence on the campus by having a reception in the fall and an educational forum in the spring. The fall receptions were held at all three law schools and were well attended. The law student representatives are currently planning the educational forums that will be given in the fall.

At William Mitchell, the Law Student Subcommittee again provided interviewers to help with mock interviews. William Mitchell's placement office experimented this year with holding the interviews in lawyers' offices rather than on campus. It was my impression, and the impression of several of the volunteer interviewers, that holding the interviews on campus worked better than in the office. I have raised this concern with William Mitchell's placement office.

The Law Student Subcommittee has again worked with the Annual Convention Committee in order to foster student participation in the Association's Annual Convention. Last year, we conducted a mini-convention focusing on issues related to entering the legal profession. This year, the convention will be held in Duluth and we are planning a number of events in conjunction with the New Lawyers Section, including offering reasonable transportation to the convention and both social and educational programs for the students. We are hoping for a good student turnout with the pricing and transportation options offered.

The Law Student Subcommittee has this year started what we hope will be a fruitful working relationship with the New Lawyers Section. The New Lawyers Section has been eager to work with the students and I believe there is a natural synergy between the Law Student Subcommittee and the New Lawyers Section. In February, the New Lawyers Section held a winter social at City Billiards in downtown Minneapolis with an open invitation to law students to attend. A number of law students did, in fact, attend and found it a good experience.

Perhaps the overriding goal of this subcommittee over the last few years has been to increase the membership and participation of the students in the MSBA. Student membership in the MSBA has been fairly static for a number of years. This last year, however, there was a dramatic 22 percent increase in the number of student members of the MSBA. This increase in membership in a credit to the foresight of the subcommittee's policy decreasing the membership dues for students and the hard recruiting work of all involved.

Large Law Firms: The Large Law Firm Subcommittee's low level of activity stemmed from its successful efforts during the last years. Thanks to the efforts of this Subcommittee, the MSBA has good participation from Minnesota's largest firms. The Subcommittee, therefore, directed its efforts at enrolling large law firms in the MSBA's law firm billing program. Results of those efforts remain unknown.

Minority: The Minority Subcommittee began the year without direction. Past efforts had wielded little increase in this target-group's membership. When former MSBA President Sheryl Ramstad Hvass created a leadership summit for members of different minority bar associations and the MSBA, she included the subcommittee. The subcommittee continues to participate in monthly meetings of this group. While the subcommittee's primary goal remains increasing membership of minority lawyers, a second goal has evolved from the leadership summits. That goal is to increase minority lawyers' participation in MSBA activities and MSBA lawyers' participation in the activities of the minority bar associations. The subcommittee hopes that increased participation will yield increased membership.

Non-Attorney: During the 1997-98 year the Non-Attorney Subcommittee focused on goals from the previous year and recommended to the Membership Committee that a task force be formed consisting of two-three attorneys and two-three paralegals to address identified needs of the non-attorney members of the MSBA.

The task force has now been formed into an ad hoc Non-Attorney Committee. The committee continues pursuing the goals of the task force as charged by the Non-Attorney Subcommittee. The ad hoc committee, benefiting from a higher exposure to MSBA members, specifically non-attorney members, is currently seeking interested non-attorney members to participate in MSBA committees related to paralegal work, as paralegal representatives. It is also seeking information from paralegal members as to other ways to integrate paralegals into MSBA programs and services that are mutually beneficial to the delivery of legal services.

--Kevin D Hofman,
1997-98 Chair

- Last Updated 8/20/03 -