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Bar Presidents in a Pandemic

by Sarah Bello,

Bar presidents in a pandemic

Hear from two Willamette Law alumni who served as their state’s bar president during a year unlike any other.

Liani Reeves '98, JD'01, Oregon State Bar President 2020

 Liana Reeves“I could have never imagined what my year was to become. The challenges seemed endless and unprecedented.

“Professionally, I faced challenges running a firm, making decisions to protect employees and navigate the economic impacts of the pandemic. Personally, the pandemic prevented me from being able to see my mom as she lost her battle with cancer. The murder of George Floyd tested my trust in the rule of law, and I struggled with how to engage lawyers in the overdue conversation about racial justice.

“As I navigated the year, I shared openly my challenges, successes and failures. In return, I heard from so many who shared their own stories. It became an effective way to build community from my home.

“My term was unlike that of any before me, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I am incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to serve.”

P. Gregory Frey JD’86, Hawaii State Bar President 2020

P. Gregory Frey“The honored position of bar president isn't easy, but certainly anyone who held the job in 2020 had it much harder as we found our way forward.

“My experience showed me that our bar board works best together in the boardroom. How could I uplift my officers’ and members’ spirits, while at the same time keep them motivated? Beyond the uncertainty and financial impacts of the virus, it was a daunting task and responsibility as everything was held remotely.

“I was determined to keep the legal community inspired and positive-minded through virtual ‘town hall chats’ and monthly newsletters. Beyond the issues discussed, a big part of every meeting was devoted to our membership’s welfare and safety.

“Being effective isn't easy when you are the size of a thumbnail photo. Yet, I never stopped pushing a message of hope, often saying ‘Together and virtually, we can do this effectively.’”

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