There are people who think “this is the way things have always been done, so no one will question me if I just keep doing it this way.” A lot of this kind of thinking seems to happen in bar associations. In a world of amazing innovation and wonderful new technology, a lot of bar associations are still trudging along well-worn paths. Not all of them, mind you, but many.
I’ve seen bar presidents use the same PowerPoint slides their last three predecessors used, as they lifelessly drone on about “the state of the profession.” They wag their fingers, exhort lawyers to do more pro bono work, and claim to know how to improve the image of our profession.
I often wonder, when I hear that old trope about the “image problem,” if maybe our image problem starts at the top. You know, behind those bar presidents’ wagging fingers.
Bar associations used to be the primary way for lawyers to learn how to improve their practice, and to find other lawyers to help mentor them. Now there’s the Internet, which is practically free and has a completely global reach (for example, one out of every six humans on the planet Earth has a Facebook account). Millions of people, including lawyers, have blogs. Millions of people know how to use Google to find information. Many of them do it from their smartphones.
How has this rather powerful trend affected the ways that bar associations put out their information?
When you search Google, how much free information do you find from bar associations on how to practice law better? How many free online CLE videos does your local bar have up on YouTube or Vimeo? Have they even posted that slide deck the new president uses as his outline when he gives his monotone monologue about the state of the profession?
Maybe they’re too busy, which would be understandable. But maybe they’re not too busy. Maybe they figure it’s okay to keep doing it the same old way.
And maybe they’ll wind up being largely irrelevant to those who really want the profession to improve.