At this point, about two years removed from the pandemic shutdown, the Minnesota State Bar Association is back in full swing. But of course, moving forward post-Covid has not meant returning to the way it was pre-Covid. Back then most MSBA events, CLEs, and meetings were in-person affairs, sometimes including the option to call in and attend via telephone. Live web meetings were in their infancy and the MSBA was just beginning to adopt Zoom on an ad hoc basis.
We still hold traditional in-person gatherings, but now the use of tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams for web-streamed meetings, CLES, and events is the norm. This flexibility allows our members throughout the state to participate in the way that best aligns with their busy schedules and life. But it also changes the way our members establish and maintain professional relationships with one another.
While the modes of various meetings are likely to change over time, presently the various modes of participation fall generally into three categories:
- Completely in-person events: Our social and networking events, like the MSBA Convention, are best served by focusing on being present in person.
- Hybrid events: Members may attend in person or by video conference all Assembly meetings (except for the annual convention), most board of governor meetings, and some section and committee meetings and CLEs.
- Online events: Most CLEs and many board, section, and committee meetings happen entirely via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, especially during the winter months.
But how we meet and when we meet is not as important as why we meet. The MSBA is where Minnesota lawyers connect—to teach, to learn, to confront challenges and navigate changing times together. Through their collective voices and experiences, MSBA members continue to champion justice, equality, and professionalism in the marketplace, at the courts, and at the legislature.
Recently, the MSBA commissioned a 12-member task force to examine and report back with recommendations regarding ChatGPT and the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). The task force includes leading technology, intellectual property, and law-related experts and practitioners. ChatGPT and similarly advanced AI models have the power to dramatically disrupt the legal landscape. To be on the front end of this technological breakthrough—examining its varied future applications to the legal profession, access to justice, and the courts—is where the MSBA is contributing best.
Finally, we are intentional in providing opportunities for lawyers to grow in their practices through leadership in our more than 40 sections and numerous committees and task forces. Submit your name to the elections and appointments committee of the MSBA as seats on the MSBA board of governors, the officer track, and other law-related boards and organizations become available. Consider volunteering for the high school mock trial competitions. Every year, 700 attorneys and judges are needed to act as competition judges in the program. Regardless of where you connect, you can make a difference by getting involved. I hope to see you in person or online as we move forward.