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Legally Speaking


Issue: June, 2009
Author: Sleeter C. Dover, Esq.

pdf Printable Version (PDF)

An Insider's View

There is no doubt that the old adage regarding “the best laid plans....” is more or less true in the majority of cases. What about in the case of the Wyoming State Bar? As you have probably heard me say ad nauseum, the 2007-2008 Wyoming State Bar Strategic Plan was developed two weeks after my arrival on the scene as your Executive Director. Of course from my biased, and at the time, ignorant perspective (maybe still in some minds), I certainly thought the two-year plan of operation was suitable for expansive and substantive improvement of past and ongoing WSB initiatives. But what do I know!? From where I sit, my judgment must certainly be skewed. Therefore, dear reader, the final judgment rests solely and exclusively with you.

This month, your Officers, Commissioners and staff will once again sit down to carve out the direction and priorities for the WSB for the next two years.

Let’s take a short trip down memory lane, and review where we were, and where we are.

Goal 1: The Wyoming State Bar will actively promote the role of law in society and raise awareness about the merits of our legal system.

Then (June 2007)
Development and implementation of the “Legally Speaking” two-minute television segments seen each Wednesday morning on the “Today in Wyoming” program on KCWY in Casper is showing initial signs of being very well received and viewed. On the Bar’s website itself they were viewed 1,080 times in April 2009, and 2,080 times in May. Twenty-six very talented and knowledgeable members of the Bar volunteered their time and efforts to this project.

The WSB in cooperation with Wyoming Public Television, produced and aired “Inside a Wyoming Jury” featuring the Trusky murder case as an educational mock trial experience. The hour-long program attempted to raise public awareness about jury duty and boost enthusiasm for jury service. Two alternates from the real Trusky jury joined ten other experienced jurors to hear Wyoming attorneys Kelly Rankin and Diane Lozano deliver opposing theories about what might have happened to Martin Trusky. Judge William F. Downes, Chief Judge for the U.S. District of Wyoming, presided over the mock proceedings and instructed the jury.

Two tremendously successful and lively Women’s Legal Forums were held over the past two years. Female attorneys from all over Wyoming congregated in Lander and Saratoga, Wyoming, to participate with renowned and exciting guest speakers and lecturers.

Several Law Day-Law Night programs were held statewide during the past two years. The Bar staff developed and distributed “Law Night in a Box” toolkits statewide to provide step-by-step preparation instructions and tips to lessen the difficulties in organizing and hosting such public service projects. Indications are that such programs have already been held and are in the works for even more in the future.

The statewide High School Mock Trial Competition was held this year in Casper. The Officers and Commissioners of the Wyoming State Bar allocated a $3,000 contribution to the Wyoming High School Mock Trial Competition Program to assist with costs associated with the transportation, lodging, etc., of participants.

Now (June 2009)
See above PDF format.

Goal 2: The Wyoming State Bar will improve the overall involvement of Bar Members.

Then (June 2007)

Activity and involvement of the Wyoming State Bar sections had nearly ground to a halt two years ago. There was serious discussion at the Officer and Commissioner level to possibly eliminate many, if not all, of the outstanding WSB sections if the interest and activity level remained the same. The Board resolved to actively investigate the level of interest and participation of each current section and to follow up with decisions on each during the 2007 administrative year.

Now (June 2009)
The Officers and Commissioners shared responsibility to directly contact all listed section members to determine the interest and participation level of each. Contact was made in September of 2007, and all twelve sections were revitalized; provided with group e-mail addresses for section correspondence and information sharing; several sections have sponsored CLE presentations both at the Annual Meeting and during the past two years.

Goal 3: The Wyoming State Bar will actively work to improve health and welfare of attorneys by exploring the viability of alternative group health care.

Then (June 2007)

A WSB Health Insurance Task Force was developed. The Task Force successfully developed and distributed a survey to gauge member interest in a health insurance program.

Now (June 2009)
The Bar has had two years of communications with ALPS seeking establishment of a health insurance option for law firms. An initial health insurance test case was established between ALPS and the Idaho State Bar effective early 2009.

The Bar has had direct communication with both the North and South Dakota State Bars regarding the Wyoming State Bar seeking a joint venture effort between the three similarly situated bars to form a regional legal health insurance group. Unfortunately, there has been little or no interest from those two neighboring bars, but indications are that as the Idaho test project progresses and results indicate possible success, the Wyoming State Bar may be able to partner with the Idaho effort in a bi-state insurance group. Stay tuned.

Goal 4: The Wyoming State Bar will integrate its Strategic Plan into its budgeting process and efficiently plan to ensure the organization’s long-term financial stability.

Then (June 2007)

The budget and the Strategic Plan were separate and distinct entities that were not very reflective of each other. Officer and Commissioner governance was hampered and often reactive due to the budget and the goals of the Association were not always congruent.

Now (June 2009)
The strategic plan provides the Wyoming State Bar will work to ensure the infrastructure is in place to appropriately execute its programs and achieve its mission. The general fund is the largest revenue stream and consists primarily of license fees collected from members. Strategically, by completing Goal 4, Two Year Objective 4.2 and increasing Bar license fees by $50 per member last fiscal year, WSB provided additional services and opportunities to its members. The decrease in interest rates is reflected in the lower amount expected from interest on investments.

Goal 5: The Wyoming State bar will work to insure the infrastructure is in place to appropriately execute its programs and achieve its mission.

Then (June 2007)

  • requirements of increased programmatic and service needs of staff and members.

  • Information technology disaster plan non-existent.

  • Software and database upgrade needs not assessed.

Now (June 2007)

  • A new office building with twice the square footage opened on October 1, 2008. Increased service capability with mediation, conferencing, deposition and other confidential space availability.

  • New computer server; software upgrades, and web maintenance contractor installed.

  • Information Technology Hardware/Software Disaster Recovery Plan in place.

Well that was certainly a speedy and hopefully informative trip down memory lane. How did we do? Your views are important to us. Even better than giving us your comments on our past efforts, how about helping us do better next time? This is the “back to the future” element of this exercise. Where should we go from here? What would you like to see accomplished? What would you like to see us CONTINUE to do? What would you like to see us STOP doing? This is important stuff, and we take it very seriously. Your input is wanted, needed, and most valuable.

Copyright © 2009 – Wyoming State Bar