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News & Press: From Our President

Show Up and Make the Bar Work for You

Tuesday, October 29, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Words from Our President...

Attorney Mike Rafi

The most common DeKalb Bar-related question I have gotten over the last few months is “How did you  become President of the DeKalb Bar?”

Depending on how well I know the person and the tone used on the word “you,” I have been amused, entertained, or mildly taken back by the question. Nevertheless, my answer is -- Because I showed up.

For the last few years, I went to lunches, happy hours, and special events like the Summer BBQ and Bench and Bar. Next year’s DeKalb Bar President will certainly be someone who has also shown up for the last few years.

Usually the first communication from a president of a bar association—or really any organization for that matter—outlines the president’s goals and actions needed to achieve them. So, let me say for the record, that my goal is to get more people to connect, pitch in, and promote the Bar. How will I do this? Well, I am going to start by sharing with you all the benefits you could be getting from the Bar… if you show up.

Connect. I have made more than a hundred connections at DeKalb Bar events. I have gotten business from members that, early in the life of my firm, allowed me to keep the lights on, and more recently, has allowed me to hire more lawyers and paralegals. Referral fees that I have shared with Bar members have helped them do the same thing. Together with the help of Bar members, my practice has grown and so have theirs. Yours can grow too… if you show up.

And, some of those cases that Bar members have referred to me have been presided over by DeKalb Judges, who I have gotten to know from the Bar. It is reassuring to walk into a Courtroom and see a familiar face, especially when that familiar face is behind the bench. Many DeKalb Judges—both Superior and State Court Judges—are extremely active in the Bar, so it is difficult not to get to know them… if you show up.

I have also expanded my social network too by my involvement within the DeKalb Bar. I have met new friends—real friends—as in, people that I like and hang out with outside of work hours. Lately, I have read a lot of articles about how many people struggle to make new friends after they have started a career and family. The Bar is a professional organization, but a social one too, and I cannot discount the social benefits. In fact, our newly recharged Younger Lawyers Section has planned some great happy hours recently and will continue to do so. Of course, don’t let the Young Lawyers part of the name fool you—all Bar members are invited and encouraged to attend.

You can grow you practice, get to know DeKalb Judges, and expand your social network too… if you show up.

Pitch in. Outside of our fantastic Executive Director who leads the way, the Bar is run by its members. For example, the President is in charge of picking speakers to present at our monthly lunches, but if you have speaker ideas, please contact me! Our committees work tirelessly on our special events, and we always need more help. Our members pitch in with volunteer activities and other community-oriented events like Law Day—the more members that pitch in, the more connections that are made, and frankly, the more fun the entire event is.

The absolute best way to get involved and connect with members is to pitch in. It is pretty simple math: the more you do, the more people you will meet, and as a bonus, the more you help, the better you will feel (giving back makes everyone feel good!), and the more respect you will get from other members, which will lead to better connections and all the benefits that go along with that. And, around and around we go. But you can only reap these professional and social rewards… if you show up.

Promote. Bar members are the key to increasing activity of our present members and bringing new members into the fold. How? By promoting the Bar. I am not asking any of you to be professional spokespeople (truthfully, we don’t have the budget for it), but I am asking you to be our biggest fans. When you are planning to come to a Bar event, talk it up and invite others. When you are at a Bar event, connect with others and then share it on social media. After you leave a Bar event, tell others about your experience and explain why it would be valuable for them to come next time.

Plus, you will find that promoting the Bar is also a tremendous way of promoting yourself. By associating yourself with the DeKalb Bar and its well-respected members, you are projecting all the great qualities that make up the Bar on yourself and doing so in a non-braggadocios way. And I cannot over emphasize this: positivity is key—speak positively about the Bar, its members, and its events.

Remember.  The best recommendations come from people who know the most about the topic.

So, you can only be a knowledgeable and credible promotor of the Bar… if you show up.

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