|By Judge Patrick F. Fischer
My last column! I cannot believe nearly a year has gone by and my term will end on June 30. But I’m not going to let you members off the hook yet. I still want to hear from you on one subject I think you will feel is important. So please read on.
Before I ask you to respond to my request for your input—to which I hope to receive a response from as many of you as possible— I want to report on what your Board of Governors has been doing this year. So again, please read on.
What your Board has been doing
The Board has focused on important issues of policy and longterm planning to keep the Ohio State Bar Association indispensable to our members—which is exactly what a Board should be focused on. The Board is in the process of finishing a new strategic plan for the next five to 10 years of this organization. The prior strategic plan had been developed before the recent recession, and the Board felt the economics underlying the prior plan, a good plan though it was, needed to be reviewed and updated in light of the new economics affecting the practice of law.
The OSBA also led a campaign to protect the independence of the judiciary and is now in the middle of a campaign concerning the taxation of legal fees. Your Board of Governors is in the midst of task forces and committees putting together reports on issues such as judicial selection, governance and workspace, not to mention more benefits and programming for our members.
All of these task forces and committees, in other words, are looking ahead five to 20 years, just like a Board should be doing. And the Board is well supported by an excellent OSBA staff whose help is of the highest quality in supporting the efforts of the Board and the programming and benefits for each and every OSBA member.
The other important Board matter is searching for a successor to Denny Ramey, who has been our executive director since 1986. Denny, with the help of tens of thousands of OSBA members like you, in about 30 years, has taken this Association from a small organization with two cramped rooms at the Ohio State University Law School, to being one of, if not the, leading and most effective voluntary state bar associations in the United States. And for that all of us are grateful. Moreover, because of Denny’s leadership efforts and the staff he has assembled, and all of you members, whomever and whenever the Board of Governors appoints a permanent successor, this Association will prosper and grow even after Denny has retired from his position. That, in and of itself, is the sign of Denny as an excellent leader and executive officer.
My last request is for a response from as many of you as possible. I ask that you please take just five minutes to send a letter, a card or an email to Denny or just call at (800) 282-6556 and let him know how you feel about his more than 30 years of efforts on behalf of the OSBA. (And if you could please copy me on anything written that you send him, we will put your thoughts together in a book for Denny’s last day in office.) Or send me a humorous or cute story about Denny. And if you happen to see Denny at the convention in May in Cleveland or any other occasion, please let him know how much you appreciate his lifetime of service to the lawyers of Ohio.
On behalf of all the members of the Ohio State Bar Association, I say, “Thank you, Denny L. Ramey.” (See the interview with Denny here.)
With utmost humility and gratitude
As for the job of president of the OSBA, I can certainly recommend it to all OSBA members, especially judges. Since World War II, as far as we can tell, only John Petzold and I have served in this position while also serving on the bench. And I believe that unique perspective can help the organization bridge the gap between the bench and bar—an important role for the state bar.
Most importantly, from the bottom of my heart and with the utmost in humility, I say thank you to all the OSBA members for giving me the opportunity to have served as your president this year. It has been my honor to serve you, a great year for me, and I hope a great year for you. And for the future, I wish each of you the best of luck and Godspeed.
Judge Patrick F. Fischer is president of the Ohio State Bar Association.