The parties are over. New Year's annual resolutions have come (and, for many of us, gone already) and the routine intensity of work is setting in for another year. One annual resolution we cannot afford to let go of, however, is the one to renew and refresh ourselves and our knowledge of the professional arena in which we work. I know from personal experience that the pressures of meeting the demands of business and family commitments make it difficult to set aside the time required to keep this resolution. We owe it to our clients, our partners and ourselves to invest the time to keep up on the latest developments in our area of expertise and to learn about new areas of practice.
There are many different ways for lawyers to learn about these things. One that you may want to consider is becoming more active in the MBA sections. (Membership in a section of your choosing is an integral part of your membership benefits.) Sections are designed in part to deliver up-to-date information on the areas of practice that most interest you. The sections also help the MBA better serve you, by informing us of topics that we should address through our publications and through our education programs. If you find that we are not delivering the information you need the most, help us — and yourself — by getting more involved in your section. For many of you, a practice group can provide an even better opportunity for addressing your New Year resolution. I sometimes hear a member say how nice it would be if the MBA provided a means to sit across a table from someone who is facing a problem similar to yours and puzzle through it together. That's what practice groups are for. They allow members to focus on a narrow set of issues within a section. Practice groups also allow you to network with practitioners whose areas of specialization are most like your own. At practice group meetings, which are generally held every few months, you can discuss current issues, areas of change and common problems that practitioners face in a particular field. If you aren't already attending one, why not try it?
The MBA also offers more formal seminar programs to help meet your continuing legal education needs. (You know ... that constant stream of pamphlets that you sometimes do not take the time to read.) If you haven't taken a seminar in a while, now is the time to make a commitment to yourself to take one or two courses. A good seminar often can spark new ideas for ways to handle the particular issues you face.
And if you really want to kick off the New Year right and be true to that resolution, join us at the MBA 2002 Annual Conference, "A Celebration of Law and Justice." The conference, which will take place at the Boston Marriott Copley Place from Jan. 24-26, will offer a blend of options to refresh your knowledge and renew contacts with colleagues. From the networking and mentoring reception for new lawyers on the first evening to the substantive sessions on Friday and Saturday, opportunities abound for personal and professional development. I hope to see you there.