by Dave Ferry, OCDLA President
From the April/May 2017 issue of The Oregon Defense Attorney.
This isn’t my last article in this publication. But it is the last one you will read while I am still president. Time flies.
In my prior articles, I attempted to communicate my appreciation for what you do and what OCDLA does. And, maybe even offer some inspiration as you keep doing it. I have vented over some of our shared experiences fighting power—and power seems ever to require fighting—even when reason and justice are on our side.
I write now to communicate a call to action. Come participate. Come serve. Come shape OCDLA’s future. Volunteer for the OCDLA Board, or a committee or a work group. This organization is made up of good people (you), run by good people (including you, really), and designed for good people (again you, and all other Oregonians). It always needs a few more good people to keep it going.
I call you to action, in part, because it has been enjoyable and rewarding for me, but, because of term limits, I now have to leave the Board. It’s your time. I call you as well because, as cliché as it sounds, OCDLA is only as good as we make it. OCDLA is the best organization of its kind in the country. Our association will continue to lead while we present cutting-edge, instructive CLEs, foster our supportive community, and develop new ways to become better lawyers. We must continue to invest our good intentions, time and effort into the association.
This is where you come in. Ever wonder why OCDLA presents seminars on particular subjects? Join the Education Committee. You can help plan conferences. You can suggest speakers and moderators. You can promote diversity of all kinds—e.g., gender, race, culture and geographic. Ever wonder why we introduce certain bills in the legislature? Join the Legislative Committee. Be a voice in the political arena. Review and comment on bills. Come to Salem and testify. You can actually make Oregon law! Or do you wonder why we always meet in a big tent near Bend for the Annual Conference? Run for the Board and shape association policy. (By the way, we meet in the big tent because it’s a central location, making it appear to be the best location for the most members, and it’s the only space large enough, but you can look into that!) Help design the auctions. Create new fundraising campaigns to pay off our mortgage. You need only be limited by your imagination.
So how do you join the Board? I have it on good authority that a how-to guide is being published in this very edition (see page 12). There is at least one up-for-grabs spot for a private lawyer in the Portland area for the upcoming term. All board seats will come available in time thanks to term limits.
One of the best ways to join in is to call the OCDLA office and ask — either inquire about a committee or about work that specifically interests you. Start with an easy, low time-commitment gig that meets by phone occasionally, or jump right into a leadership role on a committee that meets all the time, in person, far far away (like the legislative committee, for those of you who live nowhere near Salem). Or something in between. Your choice.
You may wonder, what does the Board actually do? The Board does two things: 1) governs, i.e., is responsible for approving and monitoring the performance of a revenue strategy that will sustain the association’s work. In plain English this means the Board oversees our seminars, publications and legislative activities to ensure we are true to our mission and that we have enough money to function. 2) Board members as individuals help implement the revenue strategy, contribute to the association’s fundraising activities, and guide the organization.
During a regular Board meeting we go through an agenda that generally includes discussion of suggestions for CLEs; new challenges criminal and juvenile practitioners face, how we can help, and who would be best to provide some help; what can be done to make life easier for our members, and our clients, in court and in the legislature; which activities, seminars, and efforts are within our mission statement to support (and which are not); and, of course, how we pay for it: how much we need to charge to assure we can afford to put on the CLE or seminar; how much we need to raise to afford to continue current and future projects like the Library of Defense; how the budget is working out and how we balance it (a part of the job that all nonprofits must do); and finally, when and where we meet next.
We also get to meet with members all over the state, especially during the Board retreat, which is held in different regions to facilitate such visits. While I have been on the Board, I have accumulated great memories while sharing post-meeting meals and drinks with members in Newport, Hood River, Coos Bay, Eugene, and Roseburg, among other places. In July, the Board is headed for a beautiful spot in Klamath Falls. Admittedly, we failed to arrange the long-dreamed-of retreat at John Potter’s place in Baja, but don’t let John’s retirement fool you, we still have his number!
Here is your call to action: you get to work with good people, striving to do good things for our professional community, the work that we do, and the clients we serve. I have enjoyed it immensely. I recommend it. You will feel good about every minute you invest because the work you do needs doing, and the support structure is there to help you do it well. If you have simply been waiting for an invitation, here it is. You are invited.
Finally, thank you to all those that have been doing this work for days, weeks or years, and those who will still be doing it. Thank you for all you have done. Thank you OCDLA, it has been a pleasure. And, yes, you can keep my number too.
OCDLA Board President Dave Ferry is a Senior Deputy Defender, Office of Public Defense Services.