All Together Now
by Mark Fogg
New DBA President Mark Fogg's Debut Column
While our membership survey last summer reconfirmed support for the good work we’re doing, the responses also suggested several new areas to improve, or areas to continue to improve. Members want the DBA to continue public legal education efforts and access to justice programs, such as Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Members say they also appreciate the DBA environment in which lawyers have the opportunity to socialize and learn from each others’ practices. Three items topped the list of new goals: mentoring of new lawyers and law students, an even stronger support of the judiciary and more public education by lawyers. As always, we will continue to address members’ concerns about the public image of lawyers and a healthy work-life balance.
This summer, DBA leaders have been planning how to achieve these goals. More than 50 bar leaders including the DBA Board of Trustees, DBA Board of Governors representatives, officers and committee chairs responded to surveys and attended a half-day planning session. Each month, our Board of Trustees will discuss these goals and proactive follow-up efforts.
First, we will continue to expand our relationship with the Denver Public Schools to provide interesting programs to students. We currently offer several, single-day presentations including “We the People,” Constitution Day and Law Day. Last year, three DPS high schools participated in our mock trial program with much success. As many already know, DPS’s George Washington High School took first in the state and fifth in the national competition. We met in early August with Denver high school principals in hopes of expanding this program into every high school. I had the opportunity to coach for two years at Regis Jesuit High School and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I was awed by the performance level the students achieved in team building, problem solving and case presentation. By going into DPS classrooms, we encourage legal careers. This in turn promotes diversity in our profession and gives opportunities to the disadvantaged.
Second, we are expending a lot of effort to develop mentor programs. It’s a tough area in which to create effective programs. The Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver has developed a very good mentoring program for its students and CU Law is also exploring this. We surveyed other states and court systems to see what works. A special team of bar leaders will soon report back to Trustees with recommended programs. We will have CU and DU law school liaisons at board meetings to help us determine which Bar Association programs law students could be more active in. By getting more involved, we’ll increase membership among younger lawyers and law students and we’ll respond better to the needs of younger lawyers.
Continuing to support our judiciary is key. We continue to recruit speakers for and fund the Our Courts program. We have numerous bench-bar programs. We are exploring other ways in which to improve our support for these valued public servants.
We also are forming other task forces. One task force will recommend ways to encourage minority and low-income students to pursue legal careers. Another task force will look to continue to improve access to justice. Another will continue the progress we have made in reinforcing professionalism principles and programs. We also want to increase the membership of public service lawyers and corporate counsel, as they are important parts of the bar which are underrepresented in our membership.
We need your help. We have a number of programs which require speakers and volunteers including professionalism, Our Courts and the Denver Public Schools programs. We want your ideas. If any of these initiatives piques your interest, feel free to call or e-mail me, or speak to other bar leaders or the Bar Association staff members.
Through these acts of good, community service we will address the more daunting issues of improving the public image of lawyers and finding perspective on the work/life balance. I look forward in the coming year to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.