Inside View: In Good Com·pa·ny

The origin of the word “company” is Middle English. According to Merriam-Webster, when used as a noun, the word “company” primarily means “association with another; fellowship.” Yet, when you look at the etymology of the word “company,” its meaning stems from the word “companion,” which in Latin (com- + panis) (or Spanish, con pan) translates to “with bread.” Does this ring a bell to you? Suffice it to say for now, in today’s ever-changing environment, the Hennepin County Bar Association is embracing this multifaceted concept of company, both proactively and pre-actively.

In September, I attended the Conference of Metropolitan Bar Association’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona with the HCBA’s Executive Director, Susie Brown. The meeting’s keynote speaker, Cathi Hight, a membership engagement consultant, encouraged bar associations to not only be proactive, but to also be pre-active. Bar associations are proactive when they attempt to solve today’s problems before they get worse and allow themselves to be disrupted. In other words, they play defense, are reactive and address issues by asking, “How can we take charge, be bold and dynamic, and do something?”

On the other hand, bar associations are preactive when they –
• Anticipate the impact of trends and driving forces,
• Change from the inside-out,
• Attempt to solve tomorrow’s problems before they happen, and
• Play offense and plan ahead.

In other words, instead of allowing themselves to be disrupted, pre-active bar associations allow themselves to be the disrupter and, as Ms. Hight says, an “opportunity manager.”

I am proud to be the president of an association that is both proactive and pre-active. With respect to being proactive, recall that during the HCBA’s 2018 Annual Meeting where I was installed as the HCBA’s 100th president, I identified the three priorities of my presidency: new lawyers, diverse attorneys and attorneys practicing 7 to 15 years. Why these specific groups of attorneys? Attorneys are in a unique position to address some of the issues that have arisen in a time when we are hearing and seeing such negative, divisive discourse. Attorneys are being asked to step up and to do more, oftentimes with less, to help the oppressed, the underserved and the under-represented. Attorneys are needed now more than ever. But if we, as attorneys, are not at our very best, what good are we? Consider also the fact that the number of attorneys could increase dramatically in the near future. The ABA Journal reports that since the 2016 presidential election, the number of LSAT takers and law school applications has jumped significantly, leading many to conclude that the “Trump Bump” is real. The legal community will need to help these new attorneys once they enter the profession and to make sure that their energy and passion is properly channeled. But we also must not forget about those who are currently practicing and need our help so they can continue to develop their skills, work and serve the community. By being proactive and championing the profession by focusing on these three groups of attorneys–new attorneys, diverse attorneys and attorneys practicing 7 to 15 years, my hope is that we will be better able to serve not only the profession, but more importantly, the legal community and community at large.

Another way that the HCBA is being proactive regarding diversity is with respect to a new offering I call “A Table for 10,” where 10 members can connect at a restaurant and get to know each other in a more intimate setting. There are several CLEs to educate the public about issues affecting diverse attorneys, but few social events or programs are offered to foster inclusive environments for diverse attorneys, in particular, attorneys of color and LGBTQ attorneys, and to build their social support network, which diverse attorneys often lack. Imagine being an attorney (whether at a firm, in-house or government) who does not get asked to socialize outside the office, while knowing colleagues (more often than not, non-diverse colleagues) are connecting over drinks, golf, etc. Imagine being a diverse, “transplant” attorney who has no ties to Minnesota other than his or her job. This year, the HCBA is going to address these issues by being proactive. A Table for 10 will attempt to fill the void by offering an inclusive space to connect outside the office at various minority-owned restaurants over breakfast, lunch, or dinner four times this year. Food is something that we all have in common. My hope is that we can break down some barriers over good company, good conversation, and good food – con pan! A Table for 10 will kick off on November 15, with additional gatherings planned for 2019. See for more information and registration. All members are welcome.

With respect to being pre-active, upon receiving news that the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Executive Director, Tim Groshens, was going to be retiring after over 30 years of service, the HCBA saw an opportunity to think outside the box and plan ahead for the benefit of its members—we were pre-active. And on June 12, 2018, the HCBA’s board seized this opportunity by approving an agreement to share a single executive director with the Minnesota State Bar Association and Ramsey County Bar Association. The three bar associations will continue to operate as three, separate legal entities, each with its own independently governed foundation. But our hope is that increased collaboration among the state and county bars will ultimately strengthen support to district bar associations and attorney members throughout the state; lead to better coordinated efforts, increased efficiencies, and improved member value; and realign the associations to better meet the changing needs of the legal profession. These positive changes are already underway, as staff among the three bar associations are already working together (the majority in the same physical space) to identify ways to eliminate duplicative association offerings and otherwise decrease costs. Stay tuned as we get closer to finding our new executive director.

The Hennepin County Bar Association does not run away from change. We embrace it. If you want to help be a part of the change, join the HCBA. You will be in good company.

Adine S. MomohAdineMomoh
2018-2019 HCBA President

Ms. Momoh is a partner in the Minneapolis
office of Stinson where she represents clients
in matters involving banking litigation, estates
and trusts litigation and creditors’ rights and
bankruptcy before state and federal courts
across the country. As a trusted advisor, she
helps clients navigate the entire lifecycle of a
case, from case development and strategy, to
discovery, to motion practice, to trial, to appeal.

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