In Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe people, there is no word for “goodbye.” The Ojibwe/Anishinaabe view life and all relationships therein (with and among both the inanimate and animate worlds) as being interrelated (or constituting a circle)—once something or someone enters our life circle they continue to exert an influence throughout the remainder of our lives even if we do not encounter or see that thing or person again in any direct way. Accordingly, as an expression of this life view, the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe do not say goodbye when we part ways with one another, but rather, we say Giga-wabamin Menawah—“see you again.”
My year as president of the Minnesota State Bar Association has now nearly run its course.
During this past year, together we have continued to provide direct, quality services and programming support to the 16,000-plus members of the MSBA to enhance and improve the efficiencies and enjoyment of their practice experiences. Together we have continued to serve the broader community through civic education programs, support of pro bono volunteer lawyer initiatives and networks, and through direct service programs such as “Wills for Heroes.” Together we have renewed our commitment (both by word and by deed) to address issues concerning the diversification of the bench and bar here in Minnesota. Together we have enhanced the MSBA’s legislative profile and again worked effectively with our justice system partners in our ongoing efforts to maintain adequate funding for the administration of justice throughout Minnesota; we have continued our legislative outreach efforts to effectively oppose any general fund revenue proposals that would tax the delivery of critical legal services; and as a member of the Coalition for Impartial Justice, the MSBA was itself a leading voice at the table as potential constitutional reforms were discussed and debated in furtherance of every citizens’ common interest in maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in a state court system that has been nationally recognized for its innovation, efficiency, quality, and above all, its impartiality. Together we met and resolved an unanticipated challenge within the officer ranks of Association governance, as well as worked to help alleviate some of the human suffering in Haiti. And finally, this month, together we are bringing the Association’s all new annual convention format, “Nine Days in June,” to locations across the state to make it accessible to more members of the bench and bar than ever before while at the same time retaining many of the best qualities of our Association’s historical convention experience.
I remain ever the “idealist”—one who possesses a hopeful expectation for the future of our profession. Having watched how all of you have served your clients, your profession, and your communities this past year has made me prouder than ever to be a member of the profession which counts among its own such iconic and historically significant figures as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Clarence Darrow, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Barack Obama. You should be very proud of everything that you all have accomplished over the past year. I am certainly very proud of all of you.
I need to take a moment to express my deep appreciation for all of the sound advice that I was provided, and upon which I relied, throughout this past year by President-elect Terry Votel, Secretary Bob Enger, the members of the MSBA Council, acting Treasurer Brent Routman, past-MSBA presidents Michael Ford, Patrick Kelly, Brian Melendez and Susan Holden, and especially by MSBA directors Nancy Mischel and Denise Plachecki (who served as acting-MSBA executive directors in Tim Groshens’ absence) and MSBA Executive Director Tim Groshens. I want to thank the members of the MSBA Assembly, the leadership and members of the MSBA sections, committees and task forces, as well as the dedicated staff of the MSBA for all of their hard work. Lastly, I must particularly and especially acknowledge and thank all of the lawyers and staff of my firm, Stich, Angell, Kreidler, Dodge & Unke, PA, and the members of my family—my wife Susan, my son Paul, and my daughter Ella—for all of their tremendous sacrifices and unlimited support of my presidency throughout the entirety of this past year.
It is nothing less than an absolute honor and a privilege to have been extended the incredible personal and career opportunity to serve for a year as the president of the Minnesota State Bar Association. As I prepare to end my term as president, I am not saddened because our relationship is coming to an end. Rather, I end my term as president content in the knowledge that we have done good work together this past year, and sincere in my cultural belief that I will be a better person because all of you who have entered into my circle this past year will, by your examples of dedication and selflessness, continue to exert a positive influence on me throughout the remainder of my life.
Miigwech bizindawiyeg. Thank you for listening to me.Giminadan Gagiginoshiwan. It was nice talking to you.Giga-wabamin Menawah. See you again.