To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
As members of the bar we represent a noble profession.
As we strive on behalf of our clients, we are also mindful of our obligation to improve the system of justice.
The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to addressing the issues that are critical to the profession and society.
Issues like the economy's continued effects on our job market; the need to promote diversity in the legal community; the delivery of legal services, and our obligation to protect judicial independence.
Early this summer, I helped welcome over 100 new attorneys to the profession at a swearing-in event in Trenton. Each of them signed up for law school believing they would join a noble profession - a profession that would allow them to make a difference in society while earning a good living for their families. Unfortunately, the job market that greets them remains grim.
The state's largest lawyers group is committed to assisting lawyers navigate these troubled times. We will continue to help lawyers get their practices up and running, and be a resource for those who have already hung out their own shingle. As someone who made the leap into solo practice 10 years ago, I know how the state bar can help lawyers make a transition.
While most lawyers have been hurt by the recession, there are signs that the diverse population in the bar has been especially hard hit. The economic crisis has reduced opportunities for minority lawyers and hampered the profession's efforts to increase diversity.
This is not acceptable. Our great state - the most diverse in the nation - demands an equally diverse legal profession. In the coming months, the state bar association will convene a summit on diversity to examine the progress we have made and to chart a path forward toward the goal of a more inclusive profession.
An inclusive profession is powerful and meaningful in today's increasingly global marketplace.
It is true that the global marketplace has brought changes to nearly every business and profession, and the law is no different. There is cause for concern about how these trends may diminish the importance of practicing lawyers - and the public's access to quality legal services.
In order to better understand and respond, we will establish a task force on the future of the delivery of legal services, with an eye toward protecting the public and preserving our professional values.
When it comes to protecting the public, we are reminded how blessed we are in New Jersey to have one of the most respected state court systems in the nation. That is because it is an independent and impartial branch of government. We will continue to fight to preserve the sanctity of our justice system - because every judge in our courts and every resident of New Jersey deserve it.
After all, this is what the bar association is about: Examining the tough issues so you know what is at stake and offering insight about the path to take.
Richard H. Steen