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Legally Speaking


Issue: June, 2007
Author: Joseph B. Bluemel

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From the President . . .

In May the Officers and Commissioners of the Wyoming State Bar met to review and update the Bar’s strategic plan. It seems that most successful entities assess their position, decide on goals and put a plan in place to achieve those goals. For as long as I have been involved in Bar activities, the Board has met every two years for this process. Although I don’t find strategic planning to be exciting and fun, I find it to be useful and very satisfying when reviewing the finished product. More importantly, after this recent planning session, I am confident the Wyoming State Bar is in a position where its members will continue to have a solid and beneficial organization working for them.

This recent strategic planning process began with the 2007 Bar Member Survey. Forty seven percent of the membership in Wyoming responded to that survey. Many of you took the time to include comments, some serious and some humorous, all of which have been read by the Officers and Commissioners. Thank you for your time and input. Those results are included as an insert in this issue of the Wyoming Lawyer and are also available on the Wyoming State Bar website at www.wyomingbar.org.

A review of the strategic plan that was adopted by the Board in May of 2005 revealed the Bar met many of its goals. Those include providing additional member benefits such as Casemaker for legal research and an operational professional assistance program that can be accessed by calling the confidential Wyoming Professional Assistance Program in Casper at (307) 472-1222. Another goal that was met in some respects was implementing a public awareness campaign about legal issues and the legal system. That was achieved in May when the Bar teamed up with lawyers throughout the state, courts and clerks of court for the Juror Appreciation events. Those events included the filming and airing by Wyoming Public Television of “Inside a Wyoming Jury,” the many appreciation events at courthouses, and mock trials that were held for school children. Although not directly related to efforts of the Bar, it appears e-filing will become a reality in Wyoming courts in the future beginning with the Wyoming Supreme Court and a “pilot project” that is expected to be “on-line” soon.

The Wyoming State Bar provides many services to its members that are often easily forgotten. It provides the regulatory compliance mandated by law and rule concerning admissions, continuing legal education and discipline. The Bar sponsors and holds an annual meeting where reports are provided to the membership and continuing legal education is available in an atmosphere where social and business ties are made, continued and extended. The communication materials provided by the Bar are varied and voluminous. They range from the Wyoming Lawyer to E-Brief and the Bar Directory. There are civil and criminal pattern jury instructions that are available. A current website is maintained that provides member access to the newly implemented Casemaker. The newly implemented professional assistance program is currently providing services to Wyoming lawyers who have alcohol and controlled substance issues as well as being available to provide assistance to Wyoming attorneys who are suffering other impairments ranging from stress to depression. The Bar has a very capable and professional staff that assists its members in the successful practice of law.

When evaluating achievement, there are times when success is not always complete and certainly is not as complete as we would like. Unfortunately, the Bar is not immune from the financial stress that we all see in our personal and professional lives. There are physical and technological needs that must be included in any comprehensive strategic plan in addition to the public awareness programs that are so fun to promote. Although there have been non-dues revenue enhancements implemented such as assessing a fee for pro hac vice admissions, the Bar has not developed and implemented a five-year business plan to ensure long-term financial stability and to insure adequate income to cover necessary programming needs. Non-dues revenues fund approximately half of the Bar budget, and the Officers and Commissioners concluded during strategic planning that the Bar should not rely as heavily on those monies as it currently does because the income from those fees cannot be expected to remain consistent. It is expected the Officers and Commissioners will consider increasing license fees at its July board meeting. The last license fee increase was in 2001. When that was implemented, another increase was expected to occur in three or four years, or by 2005.

A clear goal from the strategic planning was to revitalize the sections of the Bar and support those sections so they are operated in a way to improve the overall involvement of Bar members. Another goal, especially after reviewing the members’ survey, is to explore the viability of alternate health care solutions to members of the Wyoming State Bar. Whether related to the aging of our membership (48% of our members are 50 or older and 50% have been licensed to practice in Wyoming more than 15 years) or independent of that apparent demographic, the membership clearly requested the Bar explore health insurance options. The leadership of your Bar organization has set new goals to pursue and will be working to achieve those successes in the years to come. It is the plan that achieving success of these goals will strategically assist all of us in our practice and quality of life. Your continued active participation in all levels of the Wyoming State Bar is appreciated and a vital part of that plan.

Copyright © 2007 – Wyoming State Bar