Governance & Membership
President's Message - March 2023
Raise Your Hand
By Brian Hermanson
It may not be surprising to most people that the months leading up to becoming the new OBA president were filled with my asking people to volunteer on committees and projects. I am amazed at the number of people needed to ensure the work of the bar moves forward and the goals are met. Every past president I have talked to remembers the struggle to fill those volunteer positions.
While the struggle is real, the reality is, most of the time, the members of the bar say yes when asked to help. I know many times I have asked attorneys to volunteer their services for the bar, they are quick to thank me for giving them the opportunity to help.
As we come out of the COVID years, it seems to some of us that many members of our profession are slow to get back into a crowded room. I can certainly understand that feeling. I still wear a mask to help protect family members. But we are blessed with the ability to be an active member of a committee and never leave the confines of our home or office. What an amazing advantage that has become.
Last year the Solo & Small Firm Conference was one of the best-attended conferences in a long time. People are tired of not seeing people face-to-face. One has to wonder, will the in-person meeting make a comeback? One can only hope.
Most people I talk to at the end of their service on a committee tell me that they got much more out of the committee work than they put into the service. These lawyers have been able to meet many other lawyers with whom they remain friends. They also found many great opportunities arise out of their work on a committee. These are things that are almost certain to happen.
There are many people I am friends with whom I met when I volunteered for the Young Lawyers Division. We reminisce about those days and laugh at the things we did so long ago. I count those memories as some of the best I have from the practice of law.
I remember going to my first OBA committee meetings after passing the bar, not knowing a soul in the room and then, months later, considering those same people my friends and mentors.
So, I ask you, what will you do when asked to volunteer for committee work? What will you do when you see an opportunity to get involved in a bar project? Will you look at the floor or avoid the phone call or email, or will you step forward and raise your hand? Be someone who takes the step that will mean so much to you in the future – raise your hand!
Brian Hermanson serves as district attorney for the 8th District of Oklahoma.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 3 (March 2023).