Jim Pratt just completed a highly successfully term as President of the Alabama State Bar. He provided this summary of his year at the helm of this organization.
I sought the opportunity to be President of the Alabama State Bar because I had enjoyed my time as a Bar Commissioner and I felt like the Bar’s work is very consequential to the legal profession. When I became President, I had four primary goals.
REPRESENTATION OF THE BOARD OF BAR COMMISSIONERS
By law, the Board of Bar Commissioners are charged with the responsibility of operating the State Bar and overseeing all of its activities. I tried to develop an operational scheme that not only evaluated the Bar’s operation from top to bottom to see what improvements could be made, but additionally to improve the oversight by the leadership of the Bar staff. In the process I developed oversight committees for both personnel and finance so there are better communications between staff and the leadership of the Bar which allows closer scrutiny of all operations and financial matters. Thus, a more knowledgeable Board of Bar Commissioners.
SUPPORT OF THE STAFF
We are blessed with an excellent staff and, therefore, they deserve the support of the leadership in setting clear policies and guidelines as well as the development of goals, both short and long term. This facet of the Bar operation went hand-in-hand with more involvement of the leadership on behalf of the Board.
IMPROVING THE BAR’S PUBLIC IMAGE
Alabama lawyers really do render service and oftentimes and ways unknown to the public. I tried very hard through our legislative liaison program, our leadership training program, and the multitude of other service programs to demonstrate service rather than just saying that we do serve. The legislative liaison program has become a huge hit. We are the only State Bar in the country to provide this service to state government and it has been widely accepted and praised by the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tem of the Senate. Our young leaders program is likewise recognized by individuals all over the state, both for our efforts to train young leaders and the quality of instruction we are giving them in public service. We also have volunteer lawyers programs, Wills for Heroes (military veterans), and a variety of other programs to serve both our members and the public.
SUPPORT OF THE RULE OF LAW AND THE JUDICIARY
The rule of law sets our society apart from other societies. We resolve our differences in the courtroom rather than in ways that are destructive to a society and its people. Thus, I felt the Bar should at all times honor the rule of law and in every way possible support the judiciary and our judicial system. This year that came about primarily in working with the Chief Justice to try and obtain adequate funding for the courts, as well as serving on a committee chaired by the Chief Justice which had representatives from all aspects of the legal system so that ultimately we could advise the Chief Justice and he could speak with one voice on behalf of the entire system.
It was an exciting and I believe consequential year. Challenges have never been greater, but the Bar remains strong and involved. I am honored to have served as the Alabama State Bar President.