Serving in Interesting Times

As my term as president comes to an end, I look back and see a tale of two different versions of my administration. In the first part of the 2019-2020 bar year, we worked hard on the normal life of a bar association. During the second phase, we rode the wave of an international crisis with major consequences on a national and local level. Many of our key programs have been postponed or cancelled for this year. We all await next year with trepidation as the future is hard to predict from where we currently sit.

We started the bar year with a response to a request from the Minnesota Supreme Court to respond to the mental health crisis affecting lawyers throughout the country. Our HCBA task force came back with many suggestions for actions that the HCBA could take to begin to address the issue. Our board has taken steps to implement the recommendations and future boards will continue to act. During the current crisis, the need for action becomes even more important.

The association’s New Lawyers Section was charged with creating a task force to study what the HCBA can do to build stronger relationships with new lawyers and to identify ways that encourage them to stay involved in the bar as they advance out of the section. The task force completed a deep dive into the charge and made concrete recommendations, which they recently delivered to the board. The next board has been given a road map for action to meet the needs of young lawyers in Hennepin County so that our newest generation of lawyers sees the benefits of continuing active involvement with the HCBA.

Our Finance and Planning Committee spent part of the year reviewing our mission statement. The statement, which had not been reviewed in a couple decades, needed to be tweaked to more accurately reflect the current mission of the HCBA. After working on many drafts and seeking input from the Executive Committee and the Board, the new mission statement was adopted.

Our new mission statement reads:

The HCBA is a welcoming community of
lawyers who advocate for the profession, foster
access to justice, and provide members with
support at every stage of their careers.

This statement is a brief explanation of what our organization strives to be. We have a more extensive explanation of what this means, but the shorter, more concise mission statement is a quick way to tell people what the HCBA is all about.

Some of our initiatives have been delayed by the crisis that descended upon us. A new section has been formed to serve lawyers who are approaching retirement or have retired but want to connect with lawyers who are similarly situated. This new section will provide valuable services to a growing part of our population. Our Leaders Impacting Nonprofit Communities (LINC) program, which teaches lawyers how to be valuable members of nonprofit boards, was postponed. Our Bar Memorial service has been postponed until we can gather safely to memorialize our colleagues who we lost last year.

Our Annual Meeting, where we honor award winners and celebrate our incoming officers, was also cancelled. We will honor our award winners in person at an appropriate time in the future. I do want to thank my fellow board members and officers for all the work they provided to the association over the course of the year. Their ongoing commitment and countless hours spent behind the scenes keeps our association going. Most of our members have no idea how much work is performed by our volunteers. I have seen it firsthand and can report that we would be a very different organization without it.

I also want to thank the staff for all the great work they do for our members. A lot of hard work has been put in by the staff to continue the progress we are making after the merger of the Hennepin, Ramsey, and State Bar staffs last year. That merger will continue to pay benefits as we move into the future. I would like to particularly thank our CEO Cheryl Dalby for all the support she has provided me over the last year.

Our bar association, as well as all other bars, face tough challenges in the coming year. I feel confident that with our corps of volunteers and staff, we will be able to navigate through these difficult waters. Thank you all for the opportunity you have given me to serve.
Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter