Barry H. Grodsky Installed as 78th President of the Louisiana State Bar Association

Barry H. Grodsky, a partner in the New Orleans law firm of Taggart Morton, L.L.C., was installed June 7 during the LSBA’s Annual Meeting in Destin, Fla. Administering his oath of office was Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson.

Grodsky has set several goals for his year as president, balancing the long-term best practices needed to keep the statewide association of 22,000+ members effective, efficient and viable with the immediate needs of individual members and the general public.

Chief among the first goal is beginning the work on the LSBA’s next Long-Term Strategic Plan. As all goals in the 2010 Strategic Plan were achieved, “we must have another plan to cover the LSBA’s next 0-2 years, 2-4 years and beyond. The committee is beginning work now. This will lay the groundwork and become a road map for those who come after to steer the organization,” he said.

Bolstering access to justice initiatives statewide is also a high priority for Grodsky. “Louisiana is one of only three states which does not fund access to justice programs, and, although Congress does provide resources, these programs are still underfunded. We will work closely with the Louisiana Bar Foundation, which does a magnificent job of getting money in and allocating it to the various legal services agencies throughout the state,” he said.

On the professionalism front, Grodsky is pleased that the revamped LSBA Code of Profession will be unveiled on his watch. As his first foray into LSBA activities was as a member of the Professionalism and Quality of Life Committee (the precursor to the current Committee on the Profession), professionalism-related efforts and projects have always been a particular focus of his Bar work.

“The original Code of Professionalism was created 26 years ago and it needed to be updated for the 21st century. We kept the good parts, such as ‘My word is my bond’ and ‘Respect for the court,’ but we added things that are topical now, such as the proper use of social media,” he said. After the Code receives final approval from the Louisiana Supreme Court, “it will be sent to all 22,000+ lawyers with my sincere hope that everyone will read and reflect on it. It is aspirational, not mandatory, but it is a good thing,” he added.

A strong advocate for the successful LSBA Transition Into Practice (TIPS) Mentoring Program, Grodsky said plans are in place to enhance that program to offer assistance to lawyers beyond the first year of practice. The voluntary, year-long program offers one-to-one matches between newly admitted attorneys and more experienced attorneys. “But, after the mentoring program is complete, we couldn’t just leave the young lawyers on the doorstep. Now we are creating programs for lawyers in practice from two to seven years,” he said.

Assisting law students — the LSBA’s future lawyers — is also one of Grodsky’s priorities. While the LSBA will continue to offer its highly popular Law School Professionalism Orientation Program for first-year law students and its professionalism program for third-year law students, Grodsky wants to help law students with their other concerns, including handling student loan debt and, particularly, assistance with the Character and Fitness portion of the Bar Admissions process.

“In the old days, the character and fitness portion for Bar admissions was one page with basic questions. The Louisiana Supreme Court then put in a more rigorous test through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Now the character and fitness questionnaire is 32 pages long. We discovered that some students needed help in answering personal questions on this extensive self-assessment. Working with the Committee on Bar Admissions, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, we now provide students with hundreds of pages of information on how to answer specific questions,” he said. “This Character and Fitness program was the first of its kind in the country and the LSBA was recognized for the program in 2009 with the prestigious American Bar Association’s Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award. Now, the students are getting the help they need to become productive lawyers.”

As for his other goals, Grodsky said he “wants to promote, and encourage participation in, our fantastic LSBA committees. I am truly amazed at the hard work and dedication of all of our committee chairs and leaders. This is volunteerism at its best. I also want to improve outreach to our members statewide and educate them about the LSBA’s many resources available to help them in their daily practices and in their professional and personal lives.”

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