Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Fall 2017, Vol. 48, No. 3 - Page 25

WHAT’S NEW? VBA Annual Report 2016-2017 Now that I have a full year under my belt as Executive Director, I want to thank ev- eryone for their warm welcome and kind- nesses (as well as their patience!) during what’s been a very eventful year. I thought one way to highlight what your Vermont Bar Association has accomplished this past year would be to re-institute the tradition of publishing a VBA Annual Report in con- junction with the Annual Meeting each Fall. I hope that you find it helpful. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can best continue to assist you and your clients; we are at your service! VBA Annual Report 2016-2017 It’s been a pleasure to serve our more than 2,400 VBA members this year. VBA membership includes unlimited ac- cess to section activity through our new on- line communication platform “VBA Con- nect.” Developed in response to mem- bers’ requests for the ability to archive and to search the invaluable information that’s shared among section members, VBA Con- nect was implemented in early 2017. It al- lows section members to control the fre- quency of received posts, and to easily search and retrieve whatever information has been shared in all communities to date. If you haven’t yet experienced the benefits of VBA Connect, please call or e-mail the VBA office at any time for personal train- ing. If you haven’t yet provided a photo for your VBA Connect profile, we’ll be offering free “head shots” at the Annual Meeting, which will be provided electronically to you for that purpose. Thanks to the generosity of time and ef- fort of so many lawyers and judges who are willing to share their expertise, the VBA was able to offer a full smorgasbord of CLE Programs. Over 2,300 of you attended 264 live programs and watched 482 digital pro- grams this past year. Many thanks to the amazing VBA section chairs who organized CLEs during the year at the Annual Meet- ing held at the Lake Morey Resort in Fair- lee, at the Mid-Year Meeting held at the Equinox Resort in Manchester, at the Solo & Small Firm Conference held at Basin Har- bor in Vergennes, or during the numerous stand-alone programs held throughout the state. Please don’t hesitate to let us know what CLE programs you’d like to see of- fered, or if you’d like to present! We’re honored to work closely with all three branches of the Vermont Govern- ment, to ensure that your and your cli- ents’ interests are well-represented. To- wards that end, we were pleased to host both a Gubernatorial Debate and an At- torney General Debate during the election season. We also coordinated “Legislators’ Days” with the Judiciary in each of the four- teen counties throughout the Fall. County legislative delegations were invited to their local state courthouses to observe court hearings, and to meet with judicial officers and lawyer “ambassadors” from each divi- sion. Those events were followed by a Leg- islators’ Reception in January and a Legis- lators’ Breakfast in March that we hosted at the statehouse. The 2017 VBA Legisla- tive Overview gives a summary of relevant legislation that was passed during the ses- sion, and is available on the VBA website. We’re grateful that VBA Government Rela- tions Coordinator Bob Paolini will continue in that role in the upcoming session. Many thanks also to the ambassadors, to the sec- tion chairs, and to members who offered invaluable testimony during the legislative session. A new focus in the arena of public ed- ucation was to encourage lawyer presen- tations in conjunction with Constitution Day in September. The VBA provided over 2,500 copies of “Pocket Constitutions” for lawyers and judges to distribute at pre- sentations they gave to school and civic groups throughout the state. To kick off the project, an esteemed panel of five jus- tices and judges as well as moderator VBA President Mike Kennedy presented a one- hour basic overview of the Constitution at the Chittenden County Courthouse last September; a link to the video of the pre- sentation is on the VBA website. Another presentation with a different (and equally impressive!) panel was held on September 20 at the Vermont Supreme Court Building in Montpelier. The VBA is happy to provide these and other resources to whomever would like to make a presentation this year. VBA Members have automatic access to Casemaker, a leading legal research ser- vices provider with intuitive search capa- bilities. Many enhancements have been added to Casemaker features, including the ability to cite-check scanned briefs. The website includes detailed information about the latest enhancements for your re- search pleasure. We were pleased to offer the First An- nual Trial Academy at the Vermont Law School in July. This day-long intensive tri- al practice program featured seven Ver- mont Supreme Court Justices and Vermont Superior Court Trial Judges, who ran sev- en different “courtrooms” throughout the THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • FALL 2017 day. They, and participating Vermont Fel- lows of the American College of Trial Law- yers, offered individual critiques of the 60 participants’ opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and closing state- ments. Members of the VBA Young Law- yers Division served as volunteer fact and expert witnesses, and VLS students served as timekeepers. Stay tuned for the Sec- ond Annual Trial Academy in the Summer of 2018! Our Vermont Lawyer Referral Service continues to work well for clients in need of Vermont counsel, and for the 220 LRS panel member attorneys. This past year, the VBA fielded 6,835 calls, averaging 570 calls per month. Referrals brought reve- nues of $93,500 to the VBA, represent- ing 10% of fees earned by the LRS panel members. VBA business cards with the LRS 800 number, the VT Free Legal Answers website, and the “Modest Means” web- site were printed and distributed to all of the Vermont state courthouses, numerous public libraries, and many veteran centers throughout Vermont. If you’re not already an LRS member, consider joining for the low cost of $70.00 per year! Regarding Access to Justice initia- tives, the VBA is grateful to the Vermont Bar Foundation for funding the eight dif- ferent County Bar Legal Assistance Proj- ects, which provided legal representation to over 200 low income Vermonters who would have otherwise been without legal assistance in their civil, probate and fam- ily cases. Participating lawyers also contrib- uted a total of over 330 pro bono hours to the cases. If you would like to be added to the rosters of participating attorneys, please contact VBA Legal Access Coordi- nator Mary Ashcroft at mashcroft@vtbar. 25