President’s Message: August-September 2016

Bridget Penick, president

Bridget Penick, president

First do no harm… but fact check!

If you were at the PCBA Luncheon in June 2016 when I accepted the gavel from past-President Nathan Overberg, you heard me make the tongue-in-cheek remark that, as I begin my year as your Polk County Bar president, my aim was to stay the course and not derail the momentum of our organization. I believe I referred to the Hippocratic Oath when I uttered the phrase “First do no harm.” However, trusty Wikipedia enlightens us that the Hippocratic Oath does not technically contain that exact phrase (primum non nocere).

Why am I admitting a gaffe in my first president’s message? Shouldn’t I be reaffirming your decision to elect me into this position instead of highlighting a mistake? Maybe it’s because the media is deluged with politicians right now, with cameras recording their every word and the media feasting on them, relishing the opportunity to point out blunders. What is the more credible reaction? Digging in one’s heels? Burying one’s head in the sand and ignoring the issue? Or admitting it, learning from it, and moving forward? As type A lawyers, we (I) tend to be very defensive and stubborn, and admitting that what we do is anything short of perfect is difficult.

The point, therefore, of sharing this error is to let the bar association know that your officers and board of directors do not think the PCBA is perfect and there is no need for growth or change. I stand by the assertion that we are doing very good things and have extraordinarily talented, wise, and generous attorneys volunteering to lead our committees and programs. We, however, can do more. YOU can do more. Allow me to identify a few opportunities for each of you to become involved and help strengthen our Polk County Bar Association:

Committees. We have eleven committees, and six of them need new co-chairs this year. All could use additional members with fresh ideas. Take a look at the committees: Call me if co-chairing piques your interest or click on the committee name to sign up.

Judicial Retention Election. We have eight District 5C District Judges (and three 5A and two 5B) and four District Associate Judges up for retention this fall, as well as three Supreme Court Justices and four Court of Appeals Judges. Educate your friends, family, and neighbors of the purpose of a judicial retention vote. Participate (see committee opportunity in the first bullet point!).

Volunteer Lawyers Project. You all should be getting the VLP case wish list emails. You’ll be hearing more details soon regarding the “divorce boot camp” free training session that will give non-family law attorneys the tools needed to handle one of our highest demand VLP cases. I’m going to do it; I challenge each of you to as well.

Provide feedback. If your PCBA is not meeting a professional need you have, would you please let us know? Your board of directors wants to hear what the members need. One great example is our Small Firm/Solo Practice Committee. A couple of years ago, we heard from members that sole practitioners felt a bit isolated, with needs that are different than lawyers at larger firms. We created the Small Firm/Solo Practice Committee as a result, and it is currently the fastest growing committee. As you know, the squeaky wheel gets the….

Perhaps I should avoid using popular catch phrases in my messages hereafter! I look forward to working with and on behalf of our PCBA this year.