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THE ROAD AHEAD - By Bradley R. Hume

March 2013 President's Message

I am, at my core, a road warrior. Armed with scribbled directions or a GPS, a steaming cup of Java, and a seemingly endless supply of blueberry—never strawberry, never frosted—Pop-Tarts, my briefcase and I have hit the open road for the better part of 35 years.

Through my front windshield I have seen the sun rising and falling over Pikeville, Paintsville, Prestonsburg and Paducah, and I have tilted at legal windmills, opposing counsel and stubborn judges in Hopkinsville and Hazard, Florence and Franklin, Mayfield and Monticello. (Okay, so I’m stubborn too.) And except for those few occasions when I was running late for a hearing and stuck behind a lazy, lumbering coal truck on one of the countless serpentine two-lane roads in eastern Kentucky, I have enjoyed it all: graceful hills and dales, crowded interstates and sparsely-populated trails. There’s a certain sense of freedom on the open road, and parts of Kentucky are unmatched in their splendor.

Yet for all the beauty and wonder I encounter along the way, like most road warriors I am driven by destinations. There is always an end game; it is important to know where I am going.

Oh sure, one of these fine old days I’m going to get in my car and drive, with no dots to connect, no courthouses to find, no schedules to keep. Just drive. But that’s a dream for another day. For now, direction matters. For every point A, there has to be an equal and opposite point B.

In a sense, your bar association is also on the road, exploring new directions and mapping out new destinations. And because you recently saw fit to hand me the keys to the LBA bus, I thought I’d highlight a few important stops, or possible stops, on our itinerary.

Some of our destinations are right around the next bend in the road. Last year we started evaluating our technology capabilities, and technology needs, and we are now well along. Before the year is out, and perhaps much sooner, we expect to unveil a newly designed and more functional website, which we hope will provide “one-stop-shopping” for most of our LBA needs. We are also investigating the feasibility of upgrading our CLE technology to allow for online registration, payment, viewing and participation; in short, to allow for a fully digital CLE experience, for those who prefer that.

Other destinations beckon. Although I am one of those who enjoys turning the pages of my morning newspaper, ripping out articles of interest, and even washing the ink off my fingers after I am finished, it is time for us to explore whether Bar Briefs might be offered online—perhaps side-by-side with the traditional paper version so that members can choose how their bar news is delivered, at least for the foreseeable future. While the feel of the page still holds an attraction for many, newspapers everywhere are under siege, and we don’t want ours to be the last one standing.

Which brings me to our Pictorial Roster, aka (warning to all copyright attorneys: look away now) “the LBA Facebook.” Some have suggested that the time has come for us to go to an on-line version, and stop publishing our roster. I confess that I struggle with this suggestion, because I know that I will be lost without a hard copy—totally, inextricably, inconsolably lost. Take away my Pictorial Roster? I don’t think I can survive it. Better simply to drive a stake through my heart and be done with me.

My daughters assure me that I can get used to doing everything online, but I still need a few books to keep me company, and the annual roster has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. Loyalty, thy name is the LBA Roster. Yet old friends give way to new ones, and the world marches on. I’ll keep an open mind.

Where else are we going? Well, by the time you read this article we should be moving forward with our Diversity Initiative, which Bobby Simpson previewed quite nicely in his article in last month’s Bar Briefs. The focus here is not to denigrate or embarrass law firms or companies that aren’t yet well-diversified, but rather to recognize those that are, and to share means and methods by which we might all strive toward greater diversity. Our goal is to raise the level of discourse about the importance and attainability of greater diversity within our profession, and if the by-product of that effort is to increase diversity, all the better. And yes, we can do this without stepping on fingers and toes.

Another direction is for the LBA to become a leader in mentoring the next generation of lawyers. Indeed, we are already moving in that direction. For much of the past decade the LBA has sponsored a Leadership Academy, providing leadership training to selected young lawyers. Since its inception in 2006, the Leadership Academy has helped prepare more than 130 young attorneys to be leaders in the legal profession and the community at large. It has been a valuable resource for those participating in the program, and as a bar association we are beginning to reap the fruits of the seeds we have planted.

But for all its intrinsic value, the Leadership Academy is only able to reach a limited number of attorneys each year. We need as well to be a resource for more attorneys through one-on-one mentorship, where experienced attorneys agree to give time and counsel to those fresh out of law school, particularly those young lawyers who are attempting to practice on their own, or with their newly-minted peers. The KBA instituted its own mentorship program several years ago, and we are exploring ways in which we might collaborate with that effort, to ensure that every new lawyer who wants a mentor has access to one.

Speaking of collaboration, it is also my hope that the local bar will put its collective shoulder behind wheel of the “Compassionate Louisville” movement. Last year Louisville was awarded the title, “Most Compassionate City,” and this year the mayor intends to improve upon that great start. In response, we are investigating the idea of coordinating our own public service with the mayor’s initiative through a program we are tentatively calling “Lawyers Care.”

Those are a few of the destinations we hope to visit this year. But we are open to new directions. So before your board moves too far down the road, we would like to hear from you. What do you think of these ideas, and what other suggestions do you have? What should the LBA be doing that we aren’t already doing, or that we might do better? How might we be more responsive to the needs of our membership, or a better resource to the community at large?

These aren’t academic or rhetorical questions. We want your input. If you will take the time to send your thoughts and suggestions to me at bhume@tmslawplc.com, I’ll share them with the board. That’s a promise.

We’re waiting, and we’re listening.

Bradley R. Hume

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