The National Association of Bar Executives held its 2015 Midyear Meeting in Houston this month, as did several related groups, including the American Bar Association, the National Conference of Bar Presidents, and the National Conference of Bar Foundations.
The NABE conference focused on the bar as a business, a theme that was first presented at the group’s annual meeting in Boston. Attendees were challenged to “R.I.S.E., which stands for Reach, Improve, Serve, and Engage.”
Takeaways from some of the sessions are listed below.
Changing Demographics: Looking Beyond Our Borders
Most people acknowledge that the United States is considered a melting pot of cultures. But many might be surprised to learn that Houston is the most ethnic city in the country. According to Stephen L. Klineberg, a professor and co-director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, H-Town, the fourth-largest city in the nation, is most representative of the population of U.S., which he calls a “microcosm of the world.”
In a presentation to a packed house, Klineberg discussed changing demographics—in Harris County 70 percent of the population under the age of 20 is Hispanic or black—and speculated on what the future holds.
Success in the 21st century will be more about knowledge resources than natural ones, he said. And for a city like Houston, that is a seismic shift in thinking.
Young/New Lawyers: Myths, Assumptions, and Realities
There’s a generation gap associated with just about everything, including the law profession. So how do the old and new attorneys play together?
According to panelists, the solution is to flatten out the field and remove the hierarchy. Words and themes such as “collaborate,” “trickle-up theory,” “bridge the gap,” and “inviting” were emphasized as attorneys discussed ways to integrate young and new lawyers into existing organizations, including everything from local bar committees to leadership roles within firms.
Knowledge and resources should be tapped from all angles, especially when it comes to using technology. That’s where young and new lawyers can share best practices and their experiences with seasoned attorneys.
We need to “adopt a spirit of collegiality,” said Susan Oehl, a panelist and Houston attorney with Jenkins and Kamin.
What Do You Think? … How to Apply Innovation and Technology to Find Out What Your Members Are Thinking
In this plenary session, bar executives, lawyers, and communicators broke out into groups based on topics from a survey that was conducted prior to the meeting.
Following an adapted version of open space technology—a free-thinking approach to improving leadership—attendees brainstormed ways to deal with different issues that an association or organization might be faced with, including hosting video conferences, raising participation levels, and getting rid of outdated programs.