By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, 2013 Indianapolis Bar Association President
Flashback: As a young mom living in Boulder, Colo., at the foot of the Flatirons, I would spend every day, all day, with my toddler Mike while his dad worked at the local university. Mike and I were inseparable, backpacking our way around the foothills, experiencing every trail, library, playground, dog (it was BOULDER after all—leashes were unheard of) and museum we could find. I was grateful for the time to be with my son and in retrospect, I enjoyed every single second of it.
In reality however, I went a little screwy at times. I remember vividly calling my husband and reciting the words to the newest Barney song: “I like my head, how about you, it lets me know I’m alive….”
Seriously? For THIS I went to law school?
The point here is that not too long after we arrived, I realized I needed to find some grown-ups with whom to spend a small part of my day, lest I become one of those over-educated and under stimulated moms who tries to teach their baby how to speak French or swim underwater before they can walk.* I was certain it was in my son’s best interest to seek out a peer group that used complete sentences on a regular basis.
Thus was discovered the hippie play group. It was marvelous. I found a group of overeducated, slightly affected young moms who wore shoes made out of hemp, breastfed their children until they walked away, were incredibly well read and volunteered their time (with their babies on their backs) for everything and anything. It was meaningful, relevant and fun. I belonged.
Fast forward to today when spending even a lunch hour away from your desk, laptop, smart phone or iPad seems nearly absurd. When the demands on our time far outweigh the time that we have to give, and when the laser beam focus on our work precludes us from getting out of our heads for even a short period of time to learn, socialize, give back and to just grow. In short, sometimes we need to be with people who speak in complete sentences.
Therein lies the challenge for today’s bar association. The proverbial gauntlet has been thrown. How do we win the race for relevancy? How do we establish that emotional connection that our members need and often seek to get them out of their heads? How do we provide our membership with opportunities to make a positive difference? When time, technology and specialization challenge us to stay engaged, how do we as a bar association stay meaningful, relevant and fun?
Bluntly, this was where the IndyBar shines bright, arguably the brightest in the land. IndyBar staff and leadership work hard to invest your dues in programs, services and initiatives designed to benefit you, and in 2013, the return on your investment has never been higher.
In 2013, you have CLE on your schedule and on your device. Online CLE is just days from launching, giving you access to content from your desktop, laptop, iPad or smartphone with the click of a button, all when YOU have the time. CLE during soccer practice? That is meaningful.
Expanded investment in your business success: The Lawyer Referral Service and IndyLawyerFinder.com bring clients to you and are available ONLY to IndyBar members. IndyBar is committed to growing your practice and to your success as a professional, in the most time efficient way possible. That is meaningful.
IndyBar has gone mobile! 2013 has brought even more website development, including a new mobile-optimized site for registering for programs or accessing the member directory on the go. Plus, we’re developing tools that allow you to customize exactly what and how you receive information that matters to you and your practice and updates from the bar. That is relevance.
Pro bono and mentoring opportunities abound no matter what your practice area or interest. IndyBar is collaborating with organizations like Heartland Pro Bono Council and Shortridge Legal Magnet High School to provide expanded opportunities to give back. That is meaningful.
We are gearing up for favorites like the 20th Annual Bench Bar Conference in Louisville in June and the revamped quarterly Meetings of Members with “Jim Voyles approved” speakers — these are things that are designed to get us out of our offices and classrooms and remind us why we love to be with our colleagues. That is fun.
Membership to any organization only has value if members take the time to use it. That is why we are always evolving to meet the changing needs of our members. Our timeless goal is to keep this dialogue moving forward. Double check to make sure you have renewed for 2013, and if you haven’t, why not? Tell us what you need. How can we continue to excel? Because when you have excellence in your organization, membership is a given.
* I have no illusions. This is a high functioning readership. I am sure some of you have bred French speaking champion swimmers or the equivalent. Call me. I have a lot of these columns to write.