Message from Dick Casey, President
Off and Running!
Your Bar leadership is off to a brisk start of the new Bar year. For those of you who don't know, the fiscal year of the State Bar is August 1 through July 31. The new Bar commissioners are elected at the Annual Meeting in June and take office at that time. Traditionally, the commissioners meet in mid-July and at that meeting, they handle any business at hand, set the course for the coming year, and adopt a budget. For details of the actions of the commissioners, please refer to the Minutes of the meeting, appearing in this Newsletter.
This year the entire commission received a 2 ½ hour orientation session designed to give each member a primer, or refresher for returning members, on the workings of your bar, including the Bar organization itself, as well as the Bar Foundation, Access to Justice, CLE, Inc., for which the commissioners sit as directors. The orientation was followed by an excellent 3-hour training session by Elizabeth Derrico, Associate Director from the ABA Division for Bar Services in Chicago. Elizabeth facilitated an excellent discussion on the responsibilities of board members, how commissioners can be effective members of the board, and the respective roles of the commission as the policy-makers, and the Executive Director as the implementer of the board's policies. Thursday was a long day, but the common reaction from the commissioners was that their time was well spent.
One of the items of business discussed at the board meeting was my desire to adopt a strategic plan for our Bar, going out over the next 3-5 years. I'm not sure if we've ever had a formal strategic plan, but I'm convinced that we need one to address the major issues facing our Bar in the next several years. Did you know that the mission statement of the South Dakota Bar is in statute? You can find it in SDCL 16-17-2. In formulating a strategic plan, we need to thoroughly assess how we can fill that mission. How can we provide the services our members need now, and in the next several years? We face rapidly-changing advances in technology. We face a serious problem of lawyer shortages in our rural areas. We need to assess our staffing needs as we fulfill our mission, and budget accordingly. These are only a few of the subject areas of the strategic plan of accomplishing our all that is set out in SDCL 16-17-2 going forward. If anyone has a particular interest in participating in the strategic planning process, please let me know. The commissioners will be key players, but we will need the help of our other members as well.
The Truth About Committee Assignments
When reasonably possible, the practice of my predecessors—and me—is that if someone requests to be on a certain committee, they get their wish. It is rare when that doesn't happen. President Elect Pat Goetzinger and I met with Tom Barnett the day before the July Bar Commissioners meeting and made committee assignments. Of the thirty-three committee chairs, 36% have been filled by women members. Incidentally, women comprise 29% of our active Bar membership.
If someone has a question about getting involved in a committee, please feel free to contact me. We have a lot of important work to do in our Bar committees, and we need a lot of "hands" to help do that work. If you want to be active in our bar, and eventually play a role in shaping its future, get involved in a committee. If you prove yourself to be a hard-working member, your work will be recognized and you will start moving up the ranks in bar leadership. That's the way it works, present company included! So get involved, whatever your interests, age, gender or geographical location. You will find the work gratifying, the people you meet interesting, and you'll have some fun along the way!
Striving for Balance: "The Promise of Sleep"
"I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink
"I'm So Tired," Beatles White Album
As part of my "Striving for Balance" theme, I want to talk this month about the importance of a very basic component of health, overlooked by almost all of us: Our need for a good night's sleep. In his book, "The Promise of Sleep," William Dement, M.D., Ph.D. tells of his professional devotion to sleep medicine and the direct connection between health, happiness, and getting a good night's sleep. How many of us have bragged that we don't need more than 3-4 hours of sleep a night? How many of us have caught ourselves driving off a road without even realizing that we're sleepy? How many of us have felt run down, apathetic or blue and thought that's just normal, or that it's caused by age, boredom, a warm room or a heavy meal?
As Dr. Dement says: "Half of us mismanage our sleep to the point where it negatively affects our health and safety. On average, each of us sleeps one and a half fewer hours each night than our great-grandparents did a century ago." He goes on to say that "[i]t may seem impossible that people can be very sleepy and not know it, but this fact has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt." In fact, Dement says that if you catch yourself being drowsy while driving, you are in the last stages before falling asleep, not the first. So if you catch yourself getting drowsy behind the wheel, pull over immediately! You may not make it to the next gas station!
The book is very interesting and complete, detailing the physiology of sleep, and the correlation between lack of proper sleep and weight gain, lower resistance to illness and chronic disease. "The Promise of Sleep" may just change your life! As it pertains to my "Striving for Balance" theme, however, the moral of the story is this: If we are going to truly have balance between work and life, we need to be physically and emotionally healthy. If we're going to be healthy, we have to understand and properly manage our sleep.
Dement says that "ignorance is the worst sleep disorder of them all." He says the goal of his book is "to give people the fundamental knowledge they need to change the way they sleep and live." Dement focuses on what he calls "sleep debt." He contends that the brain keeps an exact accounting of how much sleep it is owed. He believes that lost sleep is like monetary debt: It must be paid back. So if we only get 6 hours of sleep each night during the workweek, instead of the 8 hours we need, those 10 hours lost hours must be paid back on the weekend, or sometime. If they're not, we are living with sleep debt. Dement says that sleep studies allow him to "state with confidence that if you feel sleepy or drowsy in the daytime, then you must have a sizable sleep debt." The result: Drowsiness during the day, depressed mood, lack of vitality, etc. We can mask our sleep debt in many ways—getting up to move around, stretch, working harder or eating. But doing so only stimulates us in the short term; those activities do nothing to repay our sleep debt.
And our mood is directly affected by sleep debt. As Dement says: "In study after study, sleep researchers have found that good sleep sets up the brain for positive feelings. When we don't have enough sleep, we have a sour view of circumstances: We are more easily frustrated, less happy, short tempered, less vital. In addition, sleep deprivation increases complaints about other bodily problems-headache, stomachache, sore joints or muscles."
Dement's book offers concrete tips on a "sleep-smart lifestyle" in Chapter 19, and he cites to numerous websites on sleep, including: www.sleepnet.com for sleep disorders, the National Sleep Foundation's www.sleepfoundation.org, Restless Legs Syndrome Support Page's www.rls.org, and a sleep apnea site, www.apneanet.org.
When we consider the vital importance of our often-overlooked need for a good night's sleep, and the potentially tragic health and safety consequences of sleep debt, this topic is literally a matter of life and death. Please take heed, take care of yourselves so you can take care of your loved ones and your clients, and get to bed!
Good night everybody.
"Good Night," Beatles White Album