Bethamy Beam (second from left) poses at the ABA-BLI in Chicago with (from left to right) H. Thomas Wells, Jr. ABA President; Thomas D. Murphy, MSBA Secretary; Paul V. Carlin, MSBA Executive Director; and Henry F. White, Jr. ABA Executive Director.
[Photo courtesy of Bethamy Beam]
Many attendants of the American Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute at the downtown Chicago Marriot walked a few blocks south to the Chicago River on Saturday, March 14, 2009, to see the downtown watercourse dyed emerald green. And some of those attendants even learned a piece of technological history at this annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
In the late 19th Century, engineers converged on the river bank to analyze the polluted channel and save Chicago’s drinking water. They reversed the flow of the Chicago River from Lake Michigan to the Des Plaines River through a man-made canal in 1900, an innovative engineering feat that saved Windy City residents from a growing cholera outbreak.
The ABA-BLI attendants, though fascinated by the trivial information, received a more timely tech-tutorial the day before at the Social Networking and Bar Association Communication Workshop.
An overflowing crowd anxiously pooled outside the Marriot’s 5th Floor, Ballroom C to learn professional advantages of blogs, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.
“That was the first time I’ve ever heard of Twitter,” admits Frederick County Bar Association Immediate Past President Bethamy Beam, who listened to the lesson from the Marriot’s hallway.
The Frederick County Bar Association and Beth Beam have been reaching out to the community way before Facebook or Twitter, but Pat Yevics talks about how legal practices can use the internet tools in her March 2009 column.
She also soaked up novel ideas from programs on Bar Association governance, strategic planning and public speaking.
“The conference is a clearinghouse of education,” continues Beam. “I feel a whole new world opened up.”
And now, Beam plans to improve her familiar world with the tools she picked up from her new world.
“When you learn these things,” she says, “it puts the onus on you to fix what you’re doing wrong, take it back to the Bar and implement it. I want to fix all the things I’ve been doing wrong all these years.”
Beam, a solo-practitioner, has established an impressive network of associates since being sworn-in ten years ago. Accompanying her Frederick County Bar work, Beam is on MSBA’s Board of Governors and Executive Committee. She also serves as the President-Elect for the newly formed Frederick County chapter of the Women’s Bar Association, the state’s most western WBA chapter.
“Bethamy is incredibly dedicated,” says FCBA Executive Director Jenny Bern, who met with Beam at least once a week during Beam’s presidential term. Her dedication is complimented by her efficiency, which she exhibits daily, balancing her career with her family life.
Using the ABA-BLI devices, Beam wants to introduce that mixture to FCBA’s internal procedures, even if it’s something as simple as making notes on a piece of paper. A mission statement and some strategic planning will be addressed first.
“We know them,” says Beam, “but we’ve never formalized them.”
Parliamentary procedure is another point of emphasis for Beam. She feels the formal process is overlooked today, producing a delay in action.
“Sometimes, people have to learn on the fly,” Beam says, “and that’s when bad habits form.”
The Bar also has the interactive initiative, featuring Facebook and Twitter, in their etch-a-sketch, with the Executive Officers and Bern maneuvering and adjusting the knobs to create an electronic communication service with some substance for the members. But one service Beam has solidified since returning from the ABA-BLI is establishing an allotment in the budget to send FCBA’s President-Elect to the conference next year.
“I’m going to encourage them to budget this in future years,” says Beam in a voice that hints at her southern roots.
This Tennessee-born attorney didn’t have to worry about the bill this year because she received one of the five scholarships awarded by the ABA for the Chicago conference.
“Bethamy Beam has a real commitment to the organized Bar,” said a representative from the ABA Division for Bar Services.
“Bethamy leads by example,” echoes Bern. “She is really invested in being a good attorney and a good leader in the community.”
Beam’s involvement with the newly formed Frederick County chapter of the Women’s Bar Association appealed most to the ABA.
“We are trying to get it right the first time,” says Beam, who envisions a mentoring-focus for the four-month-old chapter, perhaps including a “Dress for Success” campaign this summer. “I know I didn’t when I was looking for a job.”