Letter to the Editor
In the Sep/Oct 2012 Bar Journal our Bar President propounds two ways the Bar can better serve lawyers. One way is to inform the public of the “countless and unacknowledged hours of service to the public” freely contributed by lawyers. Also, there is hope of providing Bar services which are not “inefficient.” I applaud both efforts and suggest Bar Commissioners lead by example.
I have always assumed Bar Commissioners to be volunteers, who contribute “countless and unacknowledged hours of service.” Theoretically, volunteers should not expect payment of any kind, nor take advantage of their volunteerism. But, according to the 2012 Bar budget, it appears that Commissioners are “inefficient” volunteers.
Commissioners spend $49,300.00 traveling to various national and regional conferences. They get mileage, lodging and meals paid for while attending the Summer Conference in Sun Valley. Commission “retreat” funds, with food, beverage and meeting facilities total $36,317.00, were partially spent at the Stein Erickson Lodge in Deer Valley. And, the Bar President has a $29,800.00 “expense” fund. In total, the Commission/Special Projects budget is $155,600.00. This amount does not reflect additional Bar employee costs, who also attend the same conferences and retreats.
Voluntarily, Commissioners should do with less luxurious retreats. They should travel at their own expense, as other “volunteers” do, when attending Bar conferences and programs. (I would make an exception for any Commissioner who is a provider of Modest Means legal services.) Then you will truly know the spirit of “service to the public.” Speaking of luxurious accommodation, Commission discussion about raising dues to build a new Bar building does not reflect the “modest means” of our times. I vote no on the new building, increased dues and trips to Sun Valley and Deer Valley on my dime.
Michael N. Martinez