Message from your President
January 2015 President's Corner
The Holiday Season has just finished. For most of us, that has meant a time of celebration, reunion and sharing with family and friends. For many, it is a much less festive time. Research indicates that nearly 70% of people feel symptoms of stress during the holidays due to a lack of time and money while more than 50% of people feel stressed about the ideas of giving and receiving gifts.
Is our profession nothing more than a year-long continual holiday season of stress for many? There is no doubt that the stressors of the practice of law are significant and cannot be ignored. Lawyers are notorious for procrastination and by doing so, we put added pressure on ourselves and our staffs. Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow? Statutes of limitation sneak up on us, filing and briefing deadlines are constantly tested and requests for time extensions seem to be the norm rather than the exception.
There are also pressures felt when there is a lack of time to devote to a case and properly prepare a matter. Young associates feel pressure to meet their billable hours and all attorneys know the financial burdens of a legal practice. Newer attorneys often leave law school with substantial student loan debt that can hinder their ability to enjoy a moderate lifestyle after dedicating many years to the education necessary to join our profession. The list of stressors is endless.
The effects of stress can be far reaching if not addressed. As an association, the State Bar of South Dakota wants to continually encourage our members who feel overwhelmed to seek assistance. We offer several options. First, anonymous phone calls can be made to DOR, an assistance program which we have contracted with to provide 24 hour crisis assistance (800-367-3271). Their website, www.doreap.com has links to valuable resources that provide further assistance.
If affordability is an issue, assistance is available. The State Bar has and will continue to provide some financial aid to members who need counseling services and cannot afford the consultations. Regional counseling centers are aware of this and can help our members help themselves. Finally, the Lawyer Assistance Committee chaired by Tim Gebhart continues to work on improving the assistance available while raising the awareness of issues facing our members every day. If you or someone you know is in need, get help and get it early. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Whether it is stress, depression or substance abuse, your family, your clients and your practice will suffer if you ignore the signs.
The South Dakota Legislature convenes soon. Weekly updates on issues affecting the State Bar will be posted on our website. Please take a few moments to follow this important process which affects our profession. Also, remember to thank those members who are stepping up and serving in the legislature. We thank Representatives Gosch, Haugaard, Hunt, Johns, Mickelson, Russell, Schoenbeck and Stevens and Senator Rusch for their service. Be sure you support these individuals and extend professional courtesies if needed to accommodate their legislative schedule. Follow them during the legislative session. Perhaps it will inspire you to join them in 2016. Our Public Service Committee is prepared to offer guidance and mentorship to members interested in seeking a legislative seat.
With the end of the year, we also see the end of judiciary careers for several distinguished members. The retirement of Justice Konenkamp and Judges, Johnson, Lieberman, Roehr and Tiede mean that decades of judicial excellence give way to a new group of jurists who will no doubt continue to keep our judicial quality in South Dakota outstanding. Thank you to these retiring Judges for your willingness to serve the public and the profession with distinction and honor for many years. Enjoy your retirement!
Congratulations are also in order for Judge Janine Kern who has been appointed as the third female Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court. She will continue her career of service to the citizens of South Dakota at the highest level possible in our profession. Her appointment is well deserved.
Finally, carefully consider becoming a fellow of the South Dakota Bar Foundation. This is an opportunity to give back to our profession. We owe it to the public we serve to give back through the educational and charitable arm of the State Bar. As we build this endowment, our ability to provide meaningful gifts to deserving organizations will be greatly enhanced. As you plan for your giving in 2015 and beyond, the State Bar Foundation should be high on your list for consideration.