Missouri Bar Efforts to Address Indigent Criminal Defense Issues Impacting Lawyers

An Open Letter to Members of The Missouri Bar from President Patrick B. Starke

The Missouri Bar is continuing its efforts to deal with the indigent criminal defense issue. A month ago, I asked four members of the Board of Governors to meet and make recommendations about what the Board could do to help lawyers deal with criminal defense appointments. The Board group made four recommendations:

  1. The Bar should offer free or reduced CLE to deal specifically with criminal appointments.
  2. The Bar should recommend a rule to the Missouri Supreme Court to deal with the complexities of appointments.
  3. The Bar should facilitate malpractice insurance issues for lawyers appointed but who are uninsured.
  4. The Bar should appoint a special committee of lawyers to make legislative recommendations to deal with the chronic issues facing the criminal justice system.

Here is my report on the status of those four recommendations.

MoBar Quick Info

Organization and Purpose: The Missouri Bar is the statewide organization that all Missouri lawyers must belong to if they practice law. The Missouri Bar was created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri. It is considered an instrumentality of the state, not a private association nor a state agency. Its mission is to improve the legal profession, the administration of justice, and law on behalf of the public.

Member Size: Currently, the bar is comprised of about 32,000 members.

Staff Size: The executive director, Sebrina Barrett, supervises a staff of 50 employees. Click here to see a Staff Directory

Budget: Approximately $10 million. No tax dollars are used to support Missouri Bar activities. Most money is derived from dues that lawyers pay; some is derived from CLE programs and publications, grants and The Bar Foundation.

Governance: The Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar determines policies and sets the course of action for the state bar to follow. The 45 members of the Board are elected by bar members. The Board elects a president, president-elect and vice president to serve as officers of the bar.

Sections and Committees: The Missouri Bar offers more than 50 substantive law committees for its members to join. It also has two sections: a Family Law Section, and the Young Lawyers' Section.

Location: The Missouri Bar Center is located in Jefferson City, at 326 Monroe St.

Missouri Bar Resources and Activities: The Missouri Bar provides a wide variety of services and resources, not only to its members, but also to the news media, school teachers and the citizens of Missouri. These include: CLE programs and publications, an Annual Meeting, a Solo and Small Firm Conference, teachers’ programs, committee meetings and extensive services for attorneys. The bar also administers a minimum continuing legal education requirement for attorneys.