State Bar Meeting Off to Winning Start 11/1/12 11/13/12 12:51:31 AM
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Diversity Committee members Chris Hedican, Ashley Robinson and Julie Knutson accept the Diversity Award for their law firm, Baird Holm. The firm also won the award in 2010. For photos of the luncheon, including all the winners, please click here.
By Lorraine Boyd
State Bar Meeting Gets Off to Winning Start
The Daily Record
The theme of this year’s annual meeting of the Nebraska State Bar Association was “Lawyers Matter: Together We Make a Difference.” Judging from the vast array of topics covered during the three-day conference, as well as the stellar contributions made by the leadership and the award winners, lawyers do matter.
A record-breaking number of 1,500 registrants – 1/3 of the active membership – arrived in La Vista for the 112th annual meeting, held October 24 through 26.
Those attending the first official event on Wednesday – the Awards Luncheon – witnessed the ceremonial passing of the gavel from outgoing NSBA President Warren Whitted, Jr. of Omaha to incoming President Marsha Fangmeyer of Kearney. (She didn’t officially take over until Friday.)
Fangmeyer in turn recognized Whitted for his many accomplishments in office. She noted that he had planned to concentrate during his term on the reach of the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) and legal services for indigent Nebraskans, along with strengthening the organization’s website – which he did – but “stuff happens.” That “stuff” included a push by a State Legislator to “deunify” the State Bar (removing the requirement that lawyers must be members to practice) and a subsequent lawsuit being considered by the Supreme Court this fall.
In addition, NSBA’s Executive Director Jane Schoenike told him she was going to retire, although she didn’t set a date. And so, succession planning became another item on Whitted’s “to-do” list.
Fangmeyer said he rose to the tasks with grace, and was “the epitome of our theme, ‘Lawyers Matter.’”
Whitted responded by saying, “Many of you who know me will be surprised that I am quoting Hillary Clinton [laughter here] when I say that it ‘takes a village’ to accomplish all those things.”
Choking up just a little, Whitted concluded, “It has been a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to serve you.” He received a standing ovation.
After a presentation of the gavel by James Gordon to incoming Chair of the House of Delegates Steve F. Mattoon, the annual awards ceremonies commenced.
R. Kevin O’Donnell of Ogallala (right) accepts the thanks of outgoing President Warren Whitted, Jr. and Executive Director Jane Schoenike for his work as the Supreme Court District Representative to the Executive Council.
The NSBA honored two community members and one judge for service to the legal profession and outstanding contributions to public understanding of the law. They also honored one law firm and three bar members for outstanding contribution to the NSBA. Those awards are detailed below.
Award of Special Merit
The Special Merit Award recognizes significant and continuing contributions to the legal profession. Ron Henningsen (posthumously), Lynda Henningsen and The Daily Record are the 2012 recipients of the award. As publishers of The Daily Record in Omaha, the Henningsens have benefited the legal profession greatly by profiling law firms and attorneys, supporting the Barristers Club, commemorating Law Day, and acting to educate the public towards legislation and the legal community.
Award of Appreciation
The Award of Appreciation is awarded to an individual or organization in recognition of outstanding public service promoting better public understanding of the legal profession and the administration of justice. The Hon. Jeffre Cheuvront is the 2012 recipient of the award. Cheuvront was nominated for his many years of faithful service as Lancaster County Court judge and, more recently, Lancaster County District Court judge. Since his retirement in 2012, Cheuvront continued to aid the legal community by volunteering his services for the Nebraska Appeals Court when Judge Cassel was appointed to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
NSBA Diversity Award
The Nebraska State Bar Association Diversity Awards were established in 2010 to recognize outstanding efforts made by firms, organizations or individual attorneys to promote diversity in the legal profession in the State of Nebraska.
The 2012 recipient is the firm Baird Holm LLP. The award noted that “Baird Holm has demonstrated exceptional commitment to diversity both within the firm and in their efforts to support individuals who have been historically under-represented in the legal profession to pursue legal education/careers. Most marked is their partnership with the Goodrich Scholarship Program at UNO which increases access to law school for economically disadvantaged persons and persons of color.”
The President’s Professionalism Award is presented to a member of the NSBA who exemplifies the attributes of the true professional, whose conduct is always consistent with the highest standards of practice, and who displays appropriate courtesy and respect for the public, clients, fellow attorneys and the justice system. James E. Rembolt of Lincoln is the 2012 recipient “because of his service and commitment to professionalism and advocacy for civility in the practice of law.”
Women in Law Award
The annual award for the Outstanding Contributor to Women in the Law is given each year in recognition of the recipient’s lifetime accomplishments as someone who has directly contributed to the active integration and participation of women in the Nebraska system of justice. Marsha E. Fangmeyer is the 2012 recipient of this award. Fangmeyer is a partner at Knapp, Fangmeyer, Aschwege, Besse & Marsh in Kearney, and the new president of the NSBA. The award is presented by the Women in the Law Section of the NSBA.
Young Lawyers Award
Heidi M. Hayes is the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, presented annually to a young lawyer who has made exemplary contributions to the community and to public service, who actively participates in state and local bar activities, and who stands out in the areas of professional knowledge, skill, integrity and courtesy. Heidi Hayes is an attorney at the Morrow, Poppe, Watermeier & Lonowski, P.C. Law Firm in Lincoln. The award is presented by the Young Lawyers Section of the NSBA.
Reports on other activities at the NSBA Annual Meeting, including an in-depth conversation with the new president, will appear in the coming issues of The Daily Record.