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|Message from the President|
Our history can guide us to a brighter future if we work together.
On March 16, 1874, about 100 St. Louis attorneys and judges convened at the Old Courthouse to form what would eventually become The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. In the 140 years that have elapsed since that meeting, our society and the practice of law has changed so dramatically. Here in our 141st year as an Association, the profession is facing changes that are occurring at a rate never before seen. I believe these challenges have made the organized bar more relevant than at any time in our history.
We are all familiar with the challenges facing the profession. Newly-admitted lawyers are graduating from law school with a mountain of debt and fewer legal jobs available to them. Many new lawyers are hanging out their own shingle because they are unable to find a job. The Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan is under attack. Public defenders have caseloads that exceed what should be expected of them. Many fear that the billable hour is an endangered species and that the law firm model for attorney employment is on its way out.
While these challenges to our profession and our system of justice are very real and very serious, we also have great opportunities to take the lead and bring about real change to better the profession and the delivery of justice. On April 21, 2014, American Bar Association President-Elect James Hubbard hosted a summit at Saint Louis University School of Law which was titled, Access Missouri: The Future of the Administration of Justice. I was very proud to represent BAMSL at this summit which brought together Missouri Federal and State Court judges, law professors, local and state bar leaders, legal aid providers, and business leaders. President-Elect Hubbard plans to hold several of these summits across the country over the next year. In April of 2015, the ABA will then publish the results of these summits as part of a comprehensive plan to address the issues surrounding access to justice.
The Access Missouri summit is just one example of how bar associations are in a unique position to address challenges facing the profession and the delivery of justice. As part of a professional association with over 6,000 members, BAMSL members have a collective voice to address these important issues. There are many ways each of us can get involved and address these challenges that affect all of us.
By way of example, BAMSL gives young attorneys a forum to meet and network with their peers and more seasoned attorneys. BAMSL provides free CLE courses monthly on a wide variety of topics. Monthly YLD happy hours are also a great opportunity to meet other attorneys outside the daily grind of the practice.
BAMSL has over two dozen substantive law sections and committees covering almost every practice area. Membership in BAMSL sections and committees is free of charge and provides great value to your membership. Sections hold regular meetings to address current issues facing their particular practice areas. Sections also produce high-quality CLE programs at a very reasonable cost.
In addition to the substantive law sections, BAMSL also has 14 advocacy and status sections and committees for LGBT attorneys, government and public sector attorneys, Illinois lawyers, in-house lawyers, minority lawyers, solo and small firm practitioners, and women lawyers. A list of all of BAMSL’s sections and committees is on the BAMSL website. I would strongly encourage every member to check the list and join any section and/or committee which is of interest and relevance to your practice.
I became involved in BAMSL because it was the one association that brought together lawyers of every practice area, firm size, and background. The one common trait is that we are all connected to this great metropolitan area. I am very proud to be a lawyer. I am also very proud to be from St. Louis. I cannot imagine living or practicing law anywhere else.
BAMSL has long been a national leader and innovator among metropolitan bar associations. St. Louis is very fortunate to have such a strong and vibrant local bar association. That tradition continues today. The BAMSL Bar Center is located in the heart of the Washington Avenue business district at 6th and Washington. Soon, a new BAMSL “blade” sign will be prominently displayed on the corner of the 555 Washington Building. If you have not been to the Bar Center, I would encourage you to visit and utilize our beautiful new space.
For the next 12 months I will have the honor of serving as your President. I hope to engage as many members as possible in the great works of this Association. If you would like to get more involved, or if there is an issue you would like BAMSL to address, please do not hesitate to contact me. My email address is email@example.com. I would love to hear from you about any issue facing BAMSL, the legal profession, or the administration of justice.
Joseph A. Frank
2014-2015 BAMSL President