Of Dead Horses and the Internet
Through our online efforts, we can keep the Association moving forward at full speed
By Rex S. Heinke
Rex S. Heinke is president of the Association.
This President's Page was originally published in the September 2000 issue of Los Angeles Lawyer.
Equestrians say that when you find you are riding a dead horse, you should dismount. Unfortunately, when organizations-including bar associations-find out they are riding a dead horse, they often pursue other strategies:
- They use a stronger whip on the horse.
- They say, "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
- They get a new rider for the horse.
- They appoint a committee to study the horse.
- They hire a consultant to review the committee's report.
- They visit other bar associations to see how they ride dead horses.
- They increase the training you need before riding a dead horse.
- They declare that the horse is "better, faster, and cheaper" dead.
- They harness several dead horses together for greater speed.1
As the first president of this Association to serve a full term in office in the twenty-first century, I want to make sure that I do not turn over a dead horse to my successor. How? By using the Internet to serve you more quickly, conveniently, and efficiently, and by using the resulting savings to fund member services and our pro bono projects.
Our Web site is a central part of this strategy. A quick tour of what is already there, together with a brief summary of what is coming soon, will show you how useful it can be. The LACBA home page can be found at www.lacba.org. There, you will find everything from a search engine for our Web site, to a scroll telling you about the most recently posted items, to a place where you can register to receive e-mail updates on our site's latest improvements.
One of the most important things you can access from the home page is information about the Association's sections. The Sections home page contains an alphabetical list of all 24 sections. Clicking on any particular section's name takes you to its home page. If you click on Real Property, for example, you will find links to information about how to participate in the section, its calendar of events, and a summary of recent developments in real property law, among many other features. There is even a link so you can join the section online. If you go to the Business and Corporations Law Section's page, you will find a link to its listserv, or Internet mailing list. You can subscribe online to the listserv to keep up with the section's activities. Exploring the pages of other sections will show you their varied offerings.
From www.lacba.org you can also explore our For Our Members page. There, you will find lists of all the products and services available to you, as well as how to get involved in many of our pro bono projects. From this page, you can, for example, click on Professional Benefits, where you will find information on everything from continuing legal education to how to obtain appointments to represent indigent criminal defendants. There is also a link to EmplawyerNet, the Association's member benefit online job information service.
Another important link from the For Our Members page is to our Publications home page. It contains information on our free, annual Directory of Experts & Consultants and our free, annual ADR Sourcebook. Click on the link to either of these publications and you can register online to be listed in the next edition. All you have to do is provide information about your ADR experience or your background as an expert.
Alternatively, you can click on the link for our monthly publication, Los Angeles Lawyer. On its page, you not only can read the MCLE article from the latest issue and take the accompanying test for MCLE credit, you can even read the latest President's Page column. (And don't forget that if you still don't have enough MCLE credits, you can take tests from earlier editions online as well.) The Los Angeles Lawyer home page also contains an index of all articles published in the magazine over the past five years, searchable by subject, author, and month of publication. If the article is not available to be read online, you can use a pop-up e-mail dialogue box to request that the magazine's staff fax a copy of the article directly to you.
From the For Our Members page you can also access Web pages about our pro bono projects and learn how to get involved in them. For example, our Dispute Resolution Services helps more than 25,000 people annually, resolving everything from squabbles among students at school to attorney-client disputes. Also available is a link to our Lawyer Referral and Information Service, which in the last five years has helped more than a million people with their legal problems. In that same period, LRIS referrals have generated more than $20 million in legal fees for our members. Using the online link, you can request information on how to apply to receive referrals from LRIS.
You can also click on Business Benefits from the For Our Members page and, for example, get a 5 percent discount on all Lexis Publishing products, a discount that is not available through any other organization. Click on Insurance Benefits, and you can review detailed information on the professional liability, workers' compensation, auto, life, and health insurance programs available through the Association. Recently, the Association concluded an agreement with AON, which has established a single telephone number where you can get answers to all your insurance questions: 800-634-9177. A variety of other benefits are also available, including a credit card from MBNA, which is used by more than 5,000 of our members. A small portion of the amount billed on that credit card goes to the Association to help fund its projects.
And don't forget our Calendar of Events, which you can also access from our home page. There, you can find information about the who, what, when, and where of our MCLE programs. The newest and most exciting development is our recent agreement with Taecon. Through Taecon, you can take MCLE courses online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can find a link to Taecon's home page at the top of the LACBA home page.
Another page that you will find useful is our Links page. Those links will take you to the most important legal research sites available on the Internet. For example, you can access a searchable database of all federal statutes, register for updates about the status of legislation in the California legislature, or obtain information about cases pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
In the next few months you will find many exciting enhancements to www.lacba.org. For example, we are creating a virtual shopping mall that will allow you to conduct online shopping from vendors such as Sharper Image and the Warner Bros. Studio Store. We have also recently hired a new, full-time editor of our Web site to ensure that we stay on the cutting edge of Internet technology. Our goal is to make more and more information available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any place in the world that has an Internet connection.
You will only be able to take full advantage of our Internet projects if we can more easily communicate with you through your e-mail address. If you haven't already done so, please send your e-mail address along with your state bar number to email@example.com.
1 See Charles F. Robinson, The Twenty-First Century Law Practice http://www.charlierobinsonfuturist.com/article_21st.htm
Calling All Cell Phones
There probably isn't a lawyer in Los Angeles who doesn't have one or more old cell phones that are no longer being used. Thanks to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence and the Wireless Foundation (www.donateaphone.com), you can now put those old cell phones to use. They can be reprogrammed to call only 911 and crisis hotlines. They are then delivered to at-risk women at battered women's shelters. You can drop off your old cell phones at the Association's offices or you can send them to: Call to Protect, c/o Brightphone, Inc., 501 Airtech Parkway, Doors 23/24, Plainfield, IN 46168. Either way, we hope you will help support this wonderful project.-R.S.H.