San Bernardino County Bar Association
555 N. Arrowhead Ave.
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Lawyer Referral Service of the SBCBA
555 N. Arrowhead Ave.
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Copyright 2016 SBCBA
My name is Michael Reiter and I am the new President of the San Bernardino County Bar Association. I have been asked to write an extended column. I promise that I am not always this long-winded. The information within was supposed to be my first four columns. I hope you can make it to the end.
November 2016 - Welcome to a New Year at the SBCBA...
By our count, I am the 89th President since our organization was founded in 1875, and our President Elect Eugene Kim will be our 90th President when he is sworn-in during the month of October 2018.
Since 1937, our Presidents have been elected for one year. Until 2016. At our last annual meeting, we amended our bylaws to make the President (and all other officers) serve a two year term. Our directors already serve two year terms, so this puts everyone on a level term.
The justification for lengthening the terms was to allow additional time for each President to accomplish everything that they want to do. Because we start in November, and then have the holidays, our new Presidents were often half-way through their term before they even started. This should remedy the situation.
So, what do I want to do with my time? In my inaugural address at our installation dinner, I highlighted what I wanted to accomplish over the next two years to improve the organization.
In the last year of being President Elect, I worked with our Immediate Past President Victor Herrera to implement his agenda. I will continue to build on his work and that of our now dearly departed former Immediate Past President Jack Osborn to improve our Bar Association.
To that end, I want to focus on the basics and improve the fundamentals of our organization. I am focusing on “the Three Ms.” They are Membership, Management, and Moving.
First, Membership. As I shared at the installation dinner, our former President Tom Dominick shared upon leaving office that we had 950 members. Now, six years later, we have closer to 730 members.
Membership in many traditional organizations, such as religious institutions, service clubs, and trade groups is down all over. Our challenges are not unique. However, if we are to survive into our next 150 years (our sesquicentennial is in 2025) we have to adapt.
Beyond fixing what we do, and expanding what we do, we have to adapt as our membership demographics are changing. Over the years, we have seen a the United States District Court Eastern Division, built in Riverside County, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 2 move from the City of San Bernardino, and have seen many of our county’s largest firms move south, east or west.
These are not excuses, but highlight the challenges and opportunities that we have. My initial membership initiative is to get our many fine firms in the County to return to one hundred percent participation.
Another initiative is to better listen to our membership. Victor Herrera started with a survey last year. We need to know what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong and what we can do better.
However, we need more input. We did not hear from anywhere near the majority of our membership. We did not hear from the people who have left but did not tell us why. Chances are that we did not hear from you.
What do you want the organization to be? Do you want it to be more social? More online? More advocative? More benefits? Less of something? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (909) 296-6708 or (909) 708-6055.
Maybe you do not know what it is we do. Or what our mission is. While our Bulletin is a very good product, some people have confessed to me that they do not read it, particularly if they are only receiving it electronically. I read parts of it every month. There are some parts that I skip every month. Like the President’s column.
We have been working hard to improve the Bulletin the last two year. However, unlike in the past, and unlike the glossy publication from our neighbors down the river, our bulletin is almost completely composed and produced by our Executive Director Claire Furness. Yes, a small group of attorneys contribute to Bulletin, and we are very thankful for that. However, we need more attorneys to help if we want to improve the Bulletin.
The Bulletin could be a great source of local local news. When our members hire a new associate, start a new firm, become partner, retire, or move, we could publish that information in a “comings and goings” column. We have an archive of our Bulletin going back to the early 1970s, and at one point we had such a column. We also used to publish letters to the editor. Regardless of viewpoint, such letters help join us together to create a better local legal community. Please let us know if you want to help out with the Bulletin. Or write something and submit it. You can contact me at the number or email above.
We are trying to improve our new media presence. We have improved our public Facebook page and we have created a San Bernardino County Bar Association Members Only Facebook page. We have been trying to revise our webpage. If you are interested at helping out in these endeavors (for example, running our Twitter so that it is more interactive), please contact me at the email or number above.
In particular, I would like all of our members to join the Members Only Facebook page. At this time, email me with your request, and I will send you an invite. The privacy setting is set at “secret,” so you will need to be added (versus searching for it on Facebook and adding yourself). We have about 22 members at the time I am writing this column. I hope for it to be an alternate method for us to communicate with you, and for a forum on which you communicate with your fellow members.
The second “M” is Management. I do not mean our excellent staff, Executive Director Claire Furness, our Bookkeeper Marilyn Gianunzio, Christine Warner, Barbara Lines, and Elizabeth Hammer, and our former Executive Director Allen C. Turner.
Instead, by “Management,” I mean the organization of our Association. We have begun the process to review our bylaws, making the change described above. However, we started the process at our last strategic planning meeting and we expect a new slate of changes at our next Annual Meeting in early 2017. We are going to make sure that our bylaws reflect our actual practice.
Additionally (and this falls into a discussion of how the sausage gets made), we as a Board of Directors will follow-up what we talk about at the strategic planning meetings every board meeting instead of annually.
We have an excellent Board of Directors. Our current Board of Directors includes the aforementioned Eugene Kim and Victor Herrera. We also have Vice President Barbara Keough, a partner at Cota Cole LLP in Ontario; Secretary-Treasuer John W. Short, Special Counsel with Brown, White & Osborn LLP, in Redlands; directors Joyce Holcomb of Joyce Marie Holcomb APLC, in San Bernardino; Kerrie Justice of The Law Office of Kerrie C. Justice, Inc., A.P.C., in Victorville; Justin King of the Law Offices of Justin H. King, in Rancho Cucamonga; Derek Raynes of Raynes Erickson Attorneys at Law, in Redlands; Josefina Valdez, Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, Inc., in San Bernardino; and the indomitable Bradley R. White, Partner at Granowitz, White & Weber, Attorneys at Law, in San Bernardino. I will rely on them heavily.
Our Board of Directors already has their plate filled. We need more people to be involved in other leadership endeavors, including a renewed Barristers, mentoring programs, committee chairs, and working on our committees. If you are interested, contact me or the Bar staff, and we will find a place for you. Also, if you are interested on being on the Board of Directors, please contact me. We are developing an interest list for the next time there is a vacancy, instead of our recent past practice.
Our last “M” is Moving. We voted at our last Annual Meeting to move from our Arrowhead Avenue location. We are still working out the details, and we will keep you informed about when and where. The Association is concerned about the safety of our staff, and our current location is no longer tenable. Our Immediate Past President Victor Herrera will coordinate our capital campaign to purchase our permanent replacement location.
Thank you for choosing me as your new President, like the fictional Alexander Hamilton in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, “I promise I’ll make ya’ll proud” over the next two years.