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Hebenstreit: Game on

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hebenstreit Michael J. Hebenstreit Whitham Hebenstreit & Zubek LLP IBA President

It has been two years in training, watching first Jim, and then Chris, taking notes, learning, and getting prepared. Now the training is over, I am ready to start, and it is “game on.” It is going to be a busy and productive 2011.

Have you ever stopped to think about why you are a member of the IBA? What is it that makes us worthy of your interest and money? I certainly hope it is the collective good that our Association accomplishes, not only for you individually, but for the profession as a whole. I hope it is because you feel that you receive good value for your dues, both personally and professionally.

Since a year is a relatively short period of time, we generally do not adopt pet projects for the year. Rather, we continue to implement what has already been started and anticipate what your Association should be doing now and in the future. That is not going to change this year; however, I do hope the general themes for this year will be based on Service and Collegiality.

In addition to the many seminars, programs, and initiatives in which the Association is involved, there are a few new items that I anticipate will be coming up this year to serve you, our members. One is a new web based service for connecting our members with potential clients. It differs from the Lawyer Referral Service in that it would allow a potential client to preview information about attorneys on line rather than just getting the name of a possible referral over the telephone. With our new website, this type of project is now possible, as are a number of others. For those of you who understand social media better than I, we are also now on Facebook and Twitter to better say in touch with each of you—if, unlike me, you know how to access this new media. Maybe I will make that a New Years resolution for 2011!

Another issue facing the Association is the number of attorneys who have moved outside the Mile Square. We have a significant number of members around I-465 and beyond. It is important not to lose touch with those members of the bar, and we are developing the technology that will allow us to better serve the needs of outlying lawyers. That type of service is critical. If you happen to be one of those suburban lawyers, please let us know what we can do to better serve you.

We are also investigating ideas to assist the law students since they are the future members of the IBA. I recently read a New York Times article that was very troubling. It reported on the large number of law students emerging from law school with mountains of debt and few, if any, jobs available. Pretty distressing, but the apparent focus of the article accused the nations’ law schools of fraud—with the abundance of cheap student loans the price of tuition at these schools has risen tremendously and the law schools are continuing to entice young people to attend—presumably knowing that there is little hope of meaningful legal employment. I hope the day never comes when law schools have to add a warning label on their admissions packets warning the applicant that attending law school is not a guarantee of great jobs and quick riches. We hope to work with the law school in developing some mentoring and or apprentice programs to better assist the law student cross the bridge between law school and practice of law. Although reasonable minds may differ about how many new lawyers we need, it serves our profession as a whole to have better trained and better prepared colleagues.

So much for Service, but what about Collegiality. The dictionary defines collegiality as the relationship of colleagues. Isn’t that a huge part of what we do? Lawyers are bright, interesting and engaging individuals. Getting to know lawyers on a more personal level makes working opposite an attorney more pleasant----and frequently more productive. Being personally acquainted with other lawyers is not only good for business, but makes the practice more rewarding on a daily basis. The IBA can help with that.

If you are short on time (and who isn’t) I hope that you will at least read the weekly E bulletins and occasionally jump on the website. At a minimum, keep your eye out for the monthly Meeting of Members. They are an easy way to stay in touch with, or meet, other attorneys. Our next monthly meeting is February 17th when Jim Voyles will receive the Buchanan Award. It is a fun event and Jim is certainly deserving of this most prestigious award. In addition to registering yourself, why not bring a friend. Introduce that person to some of your friends and to the concept of Collegiality. I think you will find that it is contagious.

You are being served by a fantastic group of energetic and talented colleagues who have agreed to be Board members as well as Section and Committee leaders. I very much appreciate the trust that you have place in me this year, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve you and lead this terrific organization. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. It is going to be a great ride in 2011. Jump on board and don’t get left behind.•

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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