Celebrating 125 Years of the Omaha Bar Association
by Doug Law, OBA President
(Reprinted from the September 2014 OBA Newsletter)
Building On Tradition
Greetings Omaha Bar Association Members – and prospective members!
This year is significant because it marks several important anniversaries and traditions. For example, as you probably know, this year is the 800th anniversary of the adoption of the Magna Carta. Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key penned the words for the Star Spangled Banner. Fifty years ago Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This year is also marks the 50th anniversary of the musical Fiddler on the Roof, who’s main character “Teyve” was a strong advocate for “Tradition!” Each of these events impact our daily lives and the traditions developed thereafter represent long-standing valued beliefs that have been handed down from generation to generation.
125 Years of Tradition
Closer to home, we are celebrating the 125th Anniversary of our Omaha Bar Association. Who knows what type of events the first group of Omaha area lawyers promoted [Editor Note: An 1889 local news article found and reprinted in this Newsletter sheds some light on those early days.], but the reasons for initially forming the Omaha Bar Association along with the traditions established are embedded within the programs and events provided by the OBA today. We will continue those successful and valued traditions going forward. Go to www.omahabarassociation.com to view a list of programs and events that are available to our members.
Although specific OBA events may have changed, the reasons for joining and supporting Omaha Bar Association have not changed much for the past 125 years. Lawyers want to associate with other lawyers. We like and need to discuss the local law and our law practices with each other. We seek to build our legal skills, to enlarge our networks, or to expand our current legal practice.
We also want to socialize with each other from time to time. I can envision 125 years back when I’m guessing a few OBA lawyers, the local prosecutor and the Judge in Omaha would get together occasionally to enjoy a beverage in a local saloon. Today, the OBA provides several events like Pub Quizzes for our OBA Young Lawyers Division, and Fall Kickoff BBQ and Wine and Beer Tasting events for all OBA members in order to provide a social atmosphere to network and associate with other Omaha area lawyers.
OBA and Other Related Bar Traditions Provide A Foundation For Continued Success
As the Omaha Bar Association follows the traditions of its past, it also looks to other successful bar associations to build on those traditions to better serve its members. As an energy lawyer, I’m a strong advocate and current member of several different Bar Associations because each bar provides a different but valuable portfolio of support and member services. For example, the American Bar Association provides a national scope of energy and natural resources. As the Nebraska State Bar Association President, G. Michael Fenner has communicated on various occasions throughout this year, the NSBA provides many valuable services to its members, but primary among them are (1) Education, (2) Fellowship, and (3) Discovering Resources and Benefits. See, G. Michael Fenner, Resetting the Bar, 2014 NSBA Annual Meeting President’s Welcome Message. My investment in the Energy Bar Association (EBA) provides industry related connections that are not readily available through other Bar Association memberships.
Like the American Bar Association is to lawyers nationally, or like the NSBA is to lawyers across Nebraska, or the EBA is to energy lawyers, the Omaha Bar Association provides many different services to its members. The significant difference between the OBA versus the ABA, NSBA, or EBA is that we are focused on supporting our Omaha lawyers and the legal practices within the metro-Omaha area. We view our local bar association as collaborative and in partnership with the ABA and the NSBA and encourage our members to support those associations too. Although there is some overlap in services, the primary focus of each bar is different. More important, there is valuable tradition to be found in membership in each of the various bar associations. Investing in the OBA along with other bar associations provides specific opportunities and skill development which are not generally available through a single or partial bar association membership.
New OBA Traditions on the Horizon
The Omaha Bar Association will continue to focus on providing all of its members with opportunities to succeed in their individual legal careers. We will build on tradition. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Our OBA programs and events already focus on local education. The OBA’s past leadership has served each of us well by establishing several high quality Continuing Legal Education programs whose value exceeds the price of OBA membership. The OBA also has a long-standing tradition of providing numerous events for Omaha lawyers to network and socialize with other Omaha lawyers.
However, the OBA is not resting on its laurels. The OBA will evaluate and evolve its programs and services so that the Omaha Bar Association remains relevant into the future. To that end, the OBA will continue to expand its mentoring program initiated by Immediate Past President Stu Dornan last year. We encourage our experience members to volunteer to help our recent members. We are fortunate that our Executive Director, Dave Sommers, remains on the cutting edge of technology.
In addition, our Young Lawyers Division will continue its portfolio of events with the intent of establishing new traditions that support our younger lawyers as their legal careers grow. We will ask our younger members to help educate technology challenged members as technology shifts.
Finally, the OBA will look at educating members on health and wellness. With significant changes in health care insurance, increased career competition through technology, and the pressures to succeed in a global economy, an area that often gets ignored is one’s personal health and wellness.
To that end, the OBA will provide educational resources to help educate our members on finding an appropriate life/work balance. The purpose of this effort is to impact its member’s health and wellness in a positive manner.
In the coming months, we hope to start a new tradition of recognizing some of our members either on our website or OBA Facebook page, to encourage other members on our OBA Twitter account, or to provide information to our members about other members who have achieved success in healthy dieting, exercise, overcoming substance abuse, or achieving solid emotional or spiritual grounds of support.
We have 125 years of OBA tradition to rely upon as an Association. We can use those traditions to build upon going forward. We will establish new traditions to keep us strong well into the future. Please join me, the OBA leadership, and other members of the OBA in furthering and forming those traditions.