President’s Message – April/May 2015

Is it April already? Wow. My year as PCBA President is almost over. (No extra innings in this ball game – I promise!) This is my last President’s message to all of you. Many thanks to those of you who heeded my call to get out and give back to this great organization, in so many ways, serving as committee co-chairs and by actively participating in PCBA programs, activities and events. Special thanks to all of you who answered the pleas and accepted PCBA VLP cases. We’ve certainly made substantial progress in implementing the goals of our strategic plan.

Well, I saved the best for last. In my continuing effort to engage all of you with the goals of our strategic plan, I’m focusing on one more very important goal, engaging with the community.

Goal Number Two: To engage members with the community and the community with the bar association (specifically, with the Polk County Bar Association).

How can we, as PCBA members, and as Des Moines area lawyers and judges, engage with members of the Polk County community?

Of course, you can quickly and easily guess the first two answers to that question, if you’ve known me for more than a minute or two.

Encourage Polk County area middle school and high school students to participate in the PCBA Law Day Competition. This year, as usual, the Law Day Committee is sponsoring a competition centered on the ABA’s annual Law Day Theme. Students can submit a poem, an essay, original artwork, a song or a video that relates to the ABA theme. PCBA members can participate by sponsoring the cost for a winning student to attend the May 12 awards luncheon. PCBA members can participate by sitting and engaging with the student, his or her parents and teacher at the luncheon. PCBA members can participate by volunteering to speak at area schools, on the current Law Day theme, or other legal-related topics of interest. These efforts to get out and give back do not require much time or effort, but may pay dividends in promoting a positive image of the legal profession.

And, yes, of course, now and always, I encourage all of you to donate some time and talent to the Iowa Middle School and High School Mock Trial Tournaments. The state tournaments for the middle school and the high school mock trial programs are held in Des Moines, within a very short distance from most of our offices. The Des Moines Regional tournaments are the largest in the state, with a corresponding need for more judges than other regions. Coaching one or more mock trial teams is a time-consuming task. Kudos to those of you who get out and give back in that worthwhile endeavor. For the rest of us, devoting about three hours to judge a mock trial round is an easy way to get out and give back. Judging a round or two of a mock trial tournament is a wonderful way to engage with our community. Judging mock trial demonstrates to the students, their teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings, fan club, etc., that lawyers and judges can be genuinely nice people who are willing to share our wisdom and experience with the talented students. The added bonus to getting out and giving back through judging mock trial: you may meet a lawyer or judge for the first time, or reconnect with a law school classmate or former colleague. If you’re anything like me, you encourage that fellow mock trial judge to join the PCBA and participate in its events.

Neither of these community programs appeal to you? Volunteer to engage with the Polk County community in another way. Help us revamp the PCBA Speaker’s Bureau. Consider and suggest other methods for connecting our bar association with our community to the PCBA PR Committee.

Thanks again, for allowing me this chance to lead the Polk County Bar Association. Keep getting out and giving back. Keep using your time, talent and treasure for the greater good of our profession and our community. I will do the same.