President’s Message: April/May 2019

PCBA President David Nelmark

My term as President is not quite finished, but it will be by the time the next newsletter is distributed. It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been more work than anyone told me it would be, but more fun too!

I’m proud of what the PCBA has accomplished in this year, and we’re not done yet. Before the gavel gets passed at the Annual Meeting on May 14, we have numerous events including our monthly luncheon on April 9, a “Breakfast & Learn” at La Mie on April 18, and Law Day on May 1.

As my tenure comes to a close, I’d like to offer sincere thanks to the staff of the PCBA. Even in a letter with limited space, I’m able to mention by name every employee. Carol Phillips, Sonja Diener, Julie Seidlin, Mark McGrath, and Charles Tamay constitute the complete full-time staff of the Polk County Bar Association, the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers’ Project, and the PCBA Mediation Program. Their limited number illustrates two things.

The first is how hard that group works. Our organization does more with less staff and less resources than most of its counterparts around the country. We have more than 1,400 members and put on more than 50 events during the course of the year. The mediation program helps resolve nearly 1,800 small claims and more than 1,000 family law cases annually. The VLP serves an average of 900 clients each year. To accomplish all of that with such a small staff is extraordinary.

The second is that our staff does not (and could not) do it alone. We have wonderful volunteers including all of our Committee Members, Committee Chairs, and Directors. These folks put in the time to create programming and make it successful.

Even when people have completed their rise through the officer ranks, they still support the organization. I’ve had significant help this year from the four most recent PCBA Past Presidents: Bill Miller, Bridget Penick, Nathan Overberg, and Emily Chafa (each of whom also still serves on the Board of Governors). Once my term is done, I’ll try to live up to the example they’ve set.

The future of the PCBA is bright. Having seen their great work this year, I have the utmost confidence in President-Elect Donna Miller, Vice President Nick Cooper, Secretary Debra Hockett-Clark, and Treasurer Joe Happe. But they need your help. The nominating committee will meet very soon to determine the leadership for 2019-20. If you’re interested in becoming an Officer or Director (or know someone who should be considered), please let Carol know right away.

Lawyers sometimes get a bad rap. I wish those who criticize our profession could see all the good that the PCBA accomplishes. Whether it’s doing pro bono mediations, judging Law Day submissions, taking on VLP cases, or volunteering to serve on educational panels at CLEs or in local schools, our Members consistently step up. You make me proud to be a lawyer and proud to call all of you my colleagues. Thank you.