Ed Harnden On The Issues

By Paul Nickell and Cliff Collins

'I believe we should use the next year to build and strengthen selected valuable programs that have been developed by us over the past few years. The Oregon State Bar has been at the forefront in putting together programs and solutions to address the issues and problems facing our members, the court system, the legislature and the public. It is at times easier to take on or work on a new project than to remain committed to completing or strengthening those that already exist and need additional time, resources and effort to be successful.

'That does not mean that we can ignore or fail to diligently watch for changes or challenges facing or buffeting our profession or those things we are charged with protecting. We are not and cannot afford to be simply protectors of the status quo or to proceed without a substantial level of flexibility. The OSB has always been one, a leader among bars nationally in being able to develop and then consistently nurture programs that provide solutions, while at the same time using a cautious approach to instituting 'flavor of the month' programs. We will continue that track.' +

'Access to justice, or 'ATJ,' has been a priority of the OSB, the Board of Governors and the leaders of the bar for several years. Great strides have been made. We must do better, and we will. The Legal Needs Study gives us the basis for a full-scale effort, including major new funding initiatives, involvement of the bar and its members statewide, commitment to all aspects of the effort on the part of every bar leader (both on the state and local levels) and the solicitation of assistance and support from national resources.' +

'As a legislative year, 2001 provides us with tremendous opportunities. The Public Affairs Committee, the Board of Governors and numerous committees and sections have worked tirelessly over the last year to make sure that we are ready to work with the legislature in strengthening our justice system, to provide a high level of legal expertise and assistance to the legislators, to draft law improvement projects that will assist the public and to influence major issues affecting the legal profession and justice system. At the top of our priority list has been (and will be) passage of the necessary budget for the system as outlined by the Chief Justice, creation of new judgeships in areas that have demonstrated an urgent need, funding of access to justice initiatives and addressing the requirements in the indigent defense area.' +

'We stand to lose ground if we do not as a profession stand behind and support the most astute and best judiciary in the country. Our judges are hard working, concerned about access issues, committed to making sure that people who appear before them receive justice and abide by strict ethical rules. They are selected through a process that works. And they maintain their positions by employing their skills and judgment in a manner that leaves no question but that they are unbiased and even-handed. However, they are woefully underpaid, are lacking technological resources that were outmoded years ago, lack in many cases the necessary staff and often are provided courthouse facilities that are at best inadequate. To reach the goals of Justice 2020, the courts and judges need our help; and the public deserves a justice system that is able to continue to be the best in the country.' +

'The president of the bar is one of the spokespersons for the profession and the membership. I intend to forcefully and energetically move forward to accomplish the goals and agenda set by the Board of Governors through its strategic planning process, by the House of Delegates and by the membership. To that end, I am committed to not only meeting regularly with, but also listening closely to the concerns and great ideas generated by, local bar associations and their leadership, bar sections and committees, specialty practice groups such as the OADC and OTLA, all of the groups involved in providing legal assistance to the needy and a wide range of public and non-profit organizations that form the fabric of our community. We will not be successful in solving the problems and seizing the opportunities facing Oregon that are within our profession's realm of responsibility, protection and concern unless we listen to, cooperate with and capitalize on every resource available to the various leaders and members in each of these groups.

'I am looking forward with great anticipation to a fantastic year. I will never be able to adequately thank the members of the Board of Governors and members of the OSB for giving me this opportunity. I assure you that I will use every ounce of energy available to me to justify your trust.' +


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