On June 17, WSBA’s Executive Director Paula Littlewood and I embarked on a Listening Tour across the state in our ongoing effort to listen and engage more with WSBA members. It was a great opportunity to field members’ questions, as well as field input and ideas that helps us ensure the bar of the future is best meeting the needs of the members, the profession and the public we serve.
It all started when Paula picked me up from the Spokane airport and we headed to Colville for lunch with the local bar. We had a great discussion on topics ranging from the UBE (which will be a boon in an area where many lawyers are also licensed in Idaho) to CLEs to how to get the Legislature to approve an additional judge. The setting for lunch was gorgeous—a golf course ringed by mountains—and it was easy to see the allure of practicing law there.
Then it was on to Okanogan over Sherman Pass. We had a great group there, including all the local District and Superior Court Judges. Again the conversation was lively and included not only what was going on at WSBA but also the changing nature of law practice and how to handle potential conflict situations. It was a great reminder that Washington lawyers have more in common than we think, regardless of where we practice.
Tuesday we had lunch in Wenatchee with the local bar, including past presidents Steve Crossland and Stan Bastian and current YLC president Beth Bratton. Then we headed to Ellensburg to a reception at the Gard Vintners Tasting Room. Perhaps the locale had something to do with it, but this was our best attended event. Both Superior Court judges were there, along with a great cross section of the Kittitas County Bar.
Wednesday we headed over the new temporary Skagit River bridge to Bellingham and back to Mount Vernon. Governor Phil Buri joined us for the first event, and his replacement, incoming Governor Brad Furlong, for the second.
I think there were a couple themes running through all the events. First, everyone welcomed the news that WSBA was creating a staff liaison position to local bar associations. Second, every local bar struggles a bit with CLEs. Members really like our webinars but they still want to put on local programs that provide social opportunities along with professional education. Clearly, this is an area where we can work with local bar associations on events that combine webcasting and local presenters. And finally, everyone was happy to see us. There is still no substitute for face time.