Bench & Bar

JAN 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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BAR COUNSEL 53 BENCH & BAR | But it's not just a statement. It's a Supreme Court Rule, the Court's vision for why the KBA exists. Look at SCR 3.025. e title is simply "Kentucky Bar Association." The mission and purpose of the association is to maintain a proper discipline of the members of the bar in accordance with these rules and with the principles of the legal profession as a public calling, to initiate and supervise, with the approval of the court, appropriate means to insure a continuing high standard of professional competence on the part of the members of the bar, and to bear a substantial and continuing responsibility for pro- moting the efficiency and improvement of the judicial system. WHAT DOES ALL THAT MEAN? The overarching purpose is to "maintain a proper discipline" of the entire bar. at's big job—and it has three components, all equally important. LAWYER DISCIPLINE at word "discipline" was included first in the list of KBA respon- sibilities. I see the phrase "to maintain a proper discipline" as the umbrella idea or main mission, but it also refers to the lawyer dis- ciplinary process. is is the front-line public protection aspect of the Association. Attorneys in the Office of Bar Counsel have a wide variety of experience: private practice, criminal prosecutions, criminal public defense, judicial clerks, counsel for a state agency. Combined, we have nearly 100 years of experience in OBC and over 150 total years in practice. But lawyer discipline is not more important than the other func- tions. Just because it came first in a list imparts no special status. Attorney discipline is one part of a larger whole working together in furtherance of the Court's directive. CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION e Association is charged with providing the means to ensure a basic competence. In other words, continuing legal education. Note that this Rule was adopted in 1980—before mandatory CLE came to Kentucky. In 1984, CLE became mandatory through a compromise: make it mandatory, but the KBA had to provide free CLE in every Supreme Court district so members could meet their annual requirement. PUBLIC SERVICE at term isn't in that last phrase—"to bear a substantial and con- tinuing responsibility for promoting the efficiency and improvement of the judicial system"—but this is where the charitable function of the Association is found. Many programs are contained within this idea, such as the Kentucky Bar Foundation (KBF), the Clients' Security Fund (CSF), the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program (KYLAP), and bar service in general. e Bar Foundation is the charitable face of the bar. Each year, KBF awards grants to a variety of programs all over the Com- monwealth. e Clients' Security Fund, established by the Court in 1971, provides a measure of restitution to clients of lawyers who, by dishonest conduct, have caused the clients loss. KYLAP assists lawyers struggling with addiction and other issues. And while there is a staff at the KBA, we don't do this alone. Not by a longshot. It would be impossible to describe or even attempt to quantify the amount of volunteer hours that go into every aspect of the three core functions of the KBA. Within the disciplinary system, members of the Inquiry Commission and the Trial Com- missioners serve without compensation. Likewise, the vast majority of speakers at KBA-sponsored CLE events are not paid. Dozens of attorneys from all over the state volunteer their time and talents to the Kentucky Law Update, New Lawyer Program and the Annual Convention. And the KBF Board, CSF Trustees, and KYLAP board members are all volun- teers. at is an astonishing amount of generosity on behalf of Kentucky lawyers—a beneficence that even the members overlook, I think, because things generally run so smoothly. I had the privilege of speaking at all the Kentucky Law Updates this past fall, except for one site. I went from Pikeville to Paducah, Covington to Bowling Green. I believed it was important for the membership to put a name to a face when they saw "Office of Bar Counsel." But I also did it as part of that second core function of the Association: EDUCATION . So the next time you see "Kentucky Bar Association," please think about the multitude of people, most of them volunteers, working toward the goal of improving the legal profession in our Commonwealth.

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