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Georgia Bar Journal
August 2019, Vol. 25, No. 1

Continuing to Listen: #ShapeTheBar


Darrell Sutton HeadshotIt was important as I prepared to take office to hear from this state’s lawyers. To hear about the issues you feel are important to the State Bar, your practices and our profession. 

So I set out on the road, visiting with and listening to small groups of lawyers and judges in places like Rome, Macon, Augusta and Savannah. With the help of the Board of Governors members in the areas I visited, I was able to sit with and hear from many of you. I heard what concerns you, the issues you are facing and the role the Bar plays in your professional lives. Your willingness to share helped shape many of the initiatives we will accomplish over my 12 months leading our profession. (These initiatives can be found in the remarks shared with the Board of Governors during the Annual Meeting. See page 40 of the August 2019 Georgia Bar Journal.)

My only regret is that I could not meet with and hear from more of you. In a state with 159 counties and with our Bar’s membership now exceeding 50,000, my 12 months in office are simply not enough to reach everyone—either individually or in small groups—on a live, in-person listening tour.  

But by leveraging modern technology, the listening tour can continue. Utilizing online tools, we are launching a virtual listening tour called #ShapeTheBar. The goal is to continue and expand the conversations begun during the months leading to my inauguration—both during the next 12 months and beyond. We want to hear your opinions, ideas and concerns, and at the same time, ensure every member of the State Bar
of Georgia is aware of the benefits of Bar membership.

The virtual listening tour will be structured around three themes:

  • Programs: What are the Bar’s programs, and what benefits do Bar members receive from them? What I heard time and again from many of you is that the Bar could do a better job communicating to the members all the benefits of State Bar membership. The Bar has substantial resources available to enhance your professional life, and we want you to be better informed of this broad array of benefits available to you.
  • Initiatives: What are Bar leadership’s initiatives, and how will Bar members benefit from them?
  • Service: What opportunities does the Bar offer for members to serve the legal profession through participation in Bar committees, sections and leadership positions?

We are creating a space for #ShapeTheBar on www.gabar.org where Bar members can share opinions, suggestions and concerns. We will promote the initiative via email as well as through the Bar’s social media channels and in the Georgia Bar Journal. 

Some of the questions we expect to ask and answer through this conversation with membership are:

  • What resources does the Bar offer its members?
  • How can members take advantage of those resources?
  • How does the Bar serve its members and the public?
  • What resources are not offered that would be beneficial to our members?

But this is only a starting point. We want to hear (and answer) questions you have as you have them. We want to know how best to communicate Bar benefits. And we want to create a forum for you to provide input about the future of the Bar and feedback on Bar initiatives as they develop. As you share, we will share, from time to time providing the results of your input on www.gabar.org, in the Journal and via social media. 

Think about it this way: If you and I were sitting at a table together having lunch and I asked you to tell me your thoughts about the legal profession in Georgia, what would you say? If I asked you to tell me one thing the Bar could do to make the practice of law easier for you, what would you say? That’s what I want to hear—nothing is too big or small. Email president@gabar.org with #ShapeTheBar as the subject line, or send feedback via social media with the tag #ShapeTheBar. 

This is your opportunity to make the Bar better, and the Bar’s opportunity to make your professional life better. I’m excited to continue this conversation with y’all. So please share. Help me shape the Bar. I’m listening!

Darrell Sutton
President, State Bar of Georgia
president@gabar.org