Clerk's Corner

Ann ThompsonThe Western District welcomed many visitors to the Whittaker Courthouse last month, hosting a wide array of CLE offerings for lawyers rushing to earn those last few hours.  As usual, ethics hours were at a premium, and I wanted to use the Clerk’s Corner to share two tips.  First, I was pleased to participate in a KCMBA program where we discussed the ethical ramifications of lawyers facing substance abuse or other problems impairing their ability to practice.  What do you do if you have a problem or a colleague or your opposing counsel has a problem? One of the best resources available is the Missouri Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program (MOLAP) at 1-800-688-7859.  Jim Brady, who runs the program, is quick to point out that lawyers are natural problem-solvers.  But with the stress of legal practice and the economy, attacking a substance or mental health problem may appear overwhelming.  His mission is to offer confidential and practical options that may spark those natural problem-solving skills to action. 

My second tip on the ethics front is another quick reminder.  Missouri Legal Ethics Counsel, Sara Rittman, has a one stop shop for updates on ethics changes at www.mo-legal-ethics.org.  If you want news, advisory opinions, FAQs or contacts, bookmark this site.  Ms. Rittman is also available by phone to answer questions, and she reports that a steady volume of calls still hit her office concerning the July 2007 changes to Supreme Court Rule 4 and the corresponding commentary. 

And speaking of useful Web sites, the Western District is nearing completion of our new website.  As I talk with lawyers and paralegals by phone, it is often the case that the information they seek is on the website but difficult to find.  We heard your concerns loud and clear and have redesigned our website to offer full site search capability and more user friendly tabs and topics.  So if you login in the near future and are surprised by our makeover, don’t worry.  CM/ECF, your forms, and other standard content will all still be available to you online 24-7.   We hope the only extreme part of our web makeover is the faster speed at which you are able to find the data you need. 

Finally, I am pleased to welcome new IT Director, Travis Berkley to the Court as of July 6, 2009.  Mr. Berkley comes to the Western District from the University of Kansas where he served as the IT Director for Physical Infrastructure with responsibility for the voice, data and video networks, management systems and the overall IT facilities at the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.  He received his B.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science at KU as well as his Masters in Engineering Management and currently lives in Lawrence with his wife and three children.  While we are pleased that this talented Jayhawk will be leading the Western District on both local and national IT initiatives, the official colors of the Clerk’s office remain a vivid black and gold.

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