President’s Message – August/September 2020

PCBA President Nick Cooper

Years ago, as a young freshly minted lawyer, the mentors in my firm, including Anjie Shutts, emphasized the importance of getting to know the lawyers in our community in a non-adversarial setting. So, with their encouragement, I joined the Polk County Bar Association (PCBA) looking for opportunities to connect with other local practitioners of my new profession. It was good advice because the PCBA prioritized bringing its members together to learn and socialize with each other on a regular basis. Those opportunities for connection became a very important benefit of my membership in the PCBA and, in preparing to serve as the 2020-2021 PCBA President, I was very much looking forward to continuing these social opportunities and interacting with our members and my friends.

Well…a lot has changed over the past four months! Here I sit, typing my first message to our valued members from my new “home office,” formerly known as “my basement.” The national health pandemic has transformed many of our daily routines into difficult, sometimes even impossible, tasks. Simple acts like a “hello” in the office hallway or a high-five celebrating a good outcome in a case seem like extravagant gestures that we, perhaps, took for granted. While social connections may look different today in these incredibly challenging times, we can still connect with one another, albeit a “socially distant” connection, and facilitating safe, responsible connections among our membership will remain an important priority of PCBA this year.

How will we continue to provide such opportunities in the midst of a national health pandemic? We find new ways to connect. For example, in recent years the PCBA and the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) have hosted a summer Trivia Night Fundraiser to benefit the VLP, which also served as a great opportunity for summer law clerks to team up with their firm colleagues and connect with other attorneys and judges in a fun, friendly competition.

We could not hold an in-person event this summer, but we recently hosted a virtual edition of the Trivia Night Fundraiser with great success. While it may have looked different, it remained an evening of fun, laughter, and connection. Planning for additional social opportunities is well underway, including virtual monthly luncheons, a socially-distant outdoor social event, the golf outing, and our annual free Fall CLE (with 15 free hours in a two day session). Yes, things will look a little different this fall, but the PCBA remains committed to providing opportunities for its members to connect. I am thankful that all of you are members of the PCBA and I look forward to the many opportunities we will have to connect in the coming year.