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Legally Speaking


Issue: June, 2008
Author: Sleeter C. Dover

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Executive Director's Report

Can we talk?

With the onset of warmer and reinvigorating weather, I thought it time to reinvigorate and bring the membership up-to-date on various issues, actions and goings-on of the Bar. Believe it or not, we are a bit beyond the half-way point of the Woodhouse administration, and I find it very rewarding that the progress, advancement and accomplishments achieved so far have been even more than initially believed possible.

There remains one issue though that has proven to be disappointing for me personally. This issue is one that I want to have a sincere and serious talk with each of you about. As referenced many times before, Goal Number One of the Wyoming State Bar’s Strategic Plan is to “...actively promote the role of law in society and raise awareness about the merits of our legal system.” In furtherance of this goal, several action items have been outlined as means to accomplish it. Law Day and Mock Trial programs lead the way as viable actions to promote and advance this goal. I am aware of at least one program here in Laramie County promoting this goal via a “Law Night” here at the Laramie County Library, with attorneys in the local area volunteering to provide free legal assistance to clients over a two-hour period. My disappointment arises from the fact that no other county bars have reported any planned or completed Law Day or Mock Trial programs throughout the rest of the state. I know full well that such programs have or will take place, but unless and until we are advised of such undertakings, it is impossible for me to track and report progress, or lack thereof, to the Officers and Commissioners regarding this Strategic Plan item. I call on all county bar officers and members to please unearth county bar programs and report same to the Bar office here in Cheyenne. Reports need not be in formal or complex formats -- a simple e-mail; fax of program notices; telephone call, etc. of what, when, where and why will suffice, and we will make sure that each county bar is credited with its individual contributions.

I do note the estate planning program on Wyoming Public Television in Riverton as a great example of creative public interest activities that cast a most positive light on Wyoming lawyers and our efforts to serve the general public. These are good works that go beyond even the formalized access to justice efforts we strive to provide yearly.

Additionally, as an added impetus, the Officers and Commissioners have responded positively to proceeding with a statewide Attorney Perception Survey sometime during the spring of 2009. This is also in furtherance of Goal Number One of our Strategic Plan. Now I am well aware that many of you will jokingly, and some not so jokingly, assert that we already know what the public perception of attorneys is, and why spend the time, energy and resources on proving what is manifestly apparent? Well, with all due respect, I disagree. I certainly agree that the “perception” is that attorneys are held in very low esteem, but it has always been my opinion that such perceptions come from anecdotal information only, and not from a clinically viable factual basis. Even if ultimately proven factual, of more importance is to finally have an established baseline for use in developing future goals and actions to further the laudable goal of turning around such negative perceptions. And I refer to not just actions of the Bar office and the Officers and Commissioners, but to the benefits such information can be to each and every one of you in your daily practice in attacking this problem by knowing some of the things that clients and potential clients dislike about the practice of law in Wyoming.

Certification of Specialists
Due to concerns about potential complexities in record-keeping, authentication, and compliance monitoring, the Officers and Commissioners have decided to withdraw the proposed Certification of Specialists rule. This action was in response to a substantial amount of discussion and concern expressed by several Officers and Commissioners in response to numerous drafts of a proposed certification of specialists rule. In the end, it was felt that the Wyoming State Bar should not proceed with a specialist certification rule.

A Clarion Call; Time to Cowboy Up!
As you no doubt read in the April issue of the Wyoming Lawyer, our own Trish Becklinger, program assistant to the Board of Professional Responsibility, is chairing this year’s Komen Wyoming Race for the Cure here in Cheyenne. Trish of course is a survivor of breast cancer and is so recognized and appreciated in the worldwide community of survivors, that the great honor of heading up this year’s event was bestowed upon her. I feel it is most critical that Wyoming lawyers “cowboy up” and be counted in the same vein as doctors and other Wyoming professionals. In fact, upon learning of the Docs for the Cure® effort surrounding this project, I actually took offense to the notion that doctors were actively and substantially involved and are being taken note of by the public, and we lawyers are not likewise in the forefront in both participation and acknowledgment of such participation. On other pages of this issue of the Wyoming Lawyer, you will find more definitive information and guidance on how you and your firm can help in the effort to not only achieve a level of support equal to that of the doc’s, but it is the challenge of the Officers and Commissioners and myself that we actually EXCEED the efforts in donations and participation of Wyoming doctors. We call on you to please answer the call, and come in with a positive verdict on this important case.

Copyright © 2008 – Wyoming State Bar