|Oregon State Bar Bulletin — OCTOBER 2008|
If I Can, So Can You
I am a full-time attorney, wife, mother of two school-aged children, and primary wage earner in our family. I am also self-employed, working seven days each week, and regularly miss out on my children’s activities. I read Erica Glaser’s article, “The Parent Track,” in the June bar Bulletin and could relate to the painful choices that professional parents have to make when balancing work and family. I have cried more than once when I realized that a client matter was conflicting with my son’s baseball game or my daughter’s class party. Then, when I am at the soccer game or class party, I am often checking messages and returning client calls.
After 21 years of practicing law, 13 as a mother, I decided it was time to take a three-month sabbatical and spend time doing what I really wanted to do: be with my children without interruption (while they still want to be with me)! So, I wrote a letter to all of my clients in February, informing them of my summer sabbatical, put my cell phone in a box in the attic, gave my very capable assistant thorough instructions, arranged for a generous colleague to cover my caseload, and our family left in June for 88 days around the world. How the guilt receded and the priorities shifted!
I encourage every professional parent to do whatever it takes to ensure that your family comes before your work. Despite my fears, my clients were delighted with my plans and assured me that they would do their best not to die or have any medical crisis in my absence. My husband and children were thrilled to have my undivided attention and not be competing with the incessant ringing of my home office and cell phones. Sure, I lost three months of income, but I gained so much more. Now that I am back, my next step is to be sure I don’t get lost in my work again (since we can’t afford another trip around the world!).
Kate Earley Downes, Shelburne Falls, Mass.
A Time for Change
The House of Delegates was formed in 1996 because of poor attendance at the Town Hall meeting at the annual bar convention. The idea was that delegates would study the issues and attend the HOD meeting in greater numbers. According to the last mailing sent to the members of the bar, “Since its inception in 1996, HOD meeting attendance has slowly declined…” and they are now having difficulty getting a quorum. The current solution offered to the HOD in its September meeting is to allow alternate delegates. It seems that the HOD has run head on into the same problem that it was designed to fix.
A better solution would be to move the whole process into the 21st century by allowing the bar membership as a whole to vote by mail. We now vote by mail to select our political leaders, our tax issues, and a variety of other ballot measures, so why not the business of running the OSB? Times have changed since 1996. The Internet allows the kind of vigorous debate that used to go on at town hall meetings.
Quoting the recent HOD mailing again: “… governance issues are best decided when the broadest possible range of views is represented….” Vote by mail will bring back representation to all the members of the bar.
Although it is difficult to get rid of any governmental agency like the HOD once it is created, we would all be better served by replacing it with a true democracy vote by mail system.
James Vick, Salem
Time Will Tell
Thomas J. Moore’s letter in the June 2008 OSB Bulletin, “What’s in a name?”, did not acknowledge this year’s significant substantive change to the OSB’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) rules. That may be because the recent changes have not really been well publicized, even in the OSB Bulletin.
What used to be “Elimination of Bias” (EOB) Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) has been superseded by the new “Access to Justice” (ATJ) MCLE requirements. Under the old system every lawyer was required to report three EOB hours every reporting period. Under the new system, Oregon lawyers (other than new OSB members in their first reporting period) will only be required to report three ATJ hours every other reporting period. For the many who perceived the EOB courses as a burden, this effectively cuts the reporting obligation in half.
The rules were changed as the result of a membership initiative petition in 2006. In the 2006 OSB election the membership voted by a 2-to-1 margin to get rid of EOB training altogether. However, the Oregon Supreme Court must approve MCLE changes and there was entrenched opposition to eliminating EOB education. Eventually, a compromise was reached. The new rules are the result. As with any compromise, not everyone will be satisfied. Indeed, perhaps no one will be completely happy. It did, however, take a lot of time and hard work by all participants to hammer out a solution that everyone might be able to live with.
Only time will tell whether the new name for the program will have a positive result on the quality of courses and membership satisfaction. The objective of ATJ education should be to help lawyers develop skills to reduce or eliminate unfair, disparate treatment of participants in the legal system. Viewing this from the perspective of “Access to Justice” is a more positive, professional — and less politically correct — approach than the old regime.
Gary M. Georgeff, Northport, Wash.
OSB House of Delegates (formerly Region 3, now out-of-state delegate)
Chief petitioner, 2006 membership initiative petition
An Illustrious Tradition
I appreciated the article in the August/September 2008 Bulletin about Ron Lansing’s retirement, and thank Mark Lansing for writing it. I have enjoyed knowing Ron for many years and participated with him in strenuous outdoor activities when I was more able to do so.
My only (somewhat petulant) criticism of the article was its rather slighting reference to Northwestern School of Law in its pre-accreditation days. As a part-time instructor at Northwestern College of Law in the 1940s (before they dignified the position by calling us adjunct professors), I am keenly aware that many of the leading lawyers of our state (many of them now departed) were graduates of NWCL before it was absorbed by Lewis & Clark; and many of them acquired their law school education while also carrying the burden of full-time employment. Their contributions to the profession and to the community should not be discounted. I know that Mark did not intend any disparagement, and this is merely to set the record straight.
Those lawyers who were fortunate enough to have Ron Lansing as a professor are well equipped to carry on an illustrious tradition.
Randall B. Kester, Portland
Thank you Jim Hennings
As a junior or senior at Jefferson High in Portland, I was involved with the Explorer Scouts. The only meeting I remember now was a presentation about the criminal justice system given by Jim Hennings and Hal Hart. MPD probably wasn’t even a year old.
As a kid I decided to be a defense lawyer (from watching Perry Mason), and I remember being very impressed by Jim and his vision.
Before law school I worked for MPD as an investigator and then after law school as a lawyer for 6 years before moving to Alaska.
The provision of defense services and the holistic approach that flourished at MPD when I was there has no rival anywhere.
I’m waiting to find out when Jim’s retirement party is so that I can arrange a visit to Portland to personally thank him and wish him well in retirement.
Kirsten Bey, Nome, Alaska