Coming from private practice, I found that mindreading was never necessarily one of the mandatory skillsets for success. Clients always told you want they wanted. Loudly, repeatedly, perpetually, urgently. Some mindreading of the judge could be helpful, but that skill was fleeting, especially for those who subscribe to the “legal realism” theory of jurisprudence. In private practice, mindreading would never triumph over knowledge, good preparation, hard work, stellar communication and a little bit of luck.
As I’ve just passed my one-year mark here as the VBA Director of Education and Communication, I realize we, the bar association and our esteemed Board of Managers, endeavor to mind-read. All the time. The Board meets monthly and is always discussing possible ways to improve the member experience. The Board also has its “annual retreat,” and while it was a sad day when I learned that the retreat had nothing to do with spa treatments, outdoor adventures and cocktails, the retreat is essential to our growth and function as an organization. At the annual retreat last week, the Board got a new primer and refresher on all of the VBA’s services, benefits and programs and got to discuss the future for our members, as it always does.
When discussing the future of the profession and the association, a certain level of prognosticating is, of course, in order. But when you couple that with trying to read the minds of 2,300 members, it becomes quite daunting. We try to get into the minds of our members, but even at our most clairvoyant moments, we are destined to periodically come up short due to the diverse interests of our members. Meeting survey responses are often frustratingly hysterical: best CLE options ever/worst CLE options ever; more substantive law sessions/more law practice management sessions; great food/horrible food; more family law/less family law; more social events/we only have time for CLEs; more top-notch entertainment/we’d rather see entertainment with just family or friends; more wellness/less wellness and the dichotomies go on. Trying to please 2,300 members at least keeps us forever on our toes!
As I embark upon another year here at the VBA, please be reminded that the VBA is here to help you help people. We are here to help you become more knowledgeable, more efficient, more connected with your community and with other lawyers. Our job is to help you do yours and to help you compete effectively in the legal market. But our mind-reading skills are lacking.
If there are topics you feel are worthy of CLE programs, please tell your section chair, tell me, talk about it on VBA Connect and share with your colleagues.
If there is a new technology, software, app or product that you believe will make your practice more efficient, post to the technology community on VBA Connect or email me and we can see if we can get a group discount, presentation or product review from other members.
I often wonder how we ever functioned without the collective wisdom that the robust Internet provides. Soon, our thoughts about VBA Connect’s online communities will be no different. To further curtail the need to mind-read, we are again due for a broad membership survey to canvas our members’ wants, needs and expectations. If you take the time to respond, we will endeavor to make it worth your while.
Email your wisdom, suggestions, stories, requests or thoughts to jeb at vtbar dot org.