View from the Bench: Civil Bench-Bar Meetings

By Judge Gloria Sturman

Civil Bench-Bar meetings are intended to provide an informal opportunity for attorneys and judges to meet to exchange information about court procedures and recent developments in civil practice, and to bond over a shared meal. Bench-Bar meetings are even more important during the pandemic, just without the shared meal. A committee of attorney volunteers drafted a Mission Statement for the Bench-Bar meetings, which identified the goals of improving the administration of justice and the litigation and trial skills of civil attorneys through information about court procedures, policies and issues; to provide continuing legal education; and to promote collegiality, foster civility and professionalism, and encourage communication.

Pre-pandemic the committee arranged for law firms to sponsor lunch for 75 attendees. My role is to conduct the meetings which were held in Courtroom 10D at noon, however, in keeping with the Eighth Judicial District Court’s limitations on in person meetings, the Bench-Bar meetings are currently held on Zoom. See, Administrative Order 20-17, page 8. A link to the Administrative Orders can be found on the Court’s home page at http://www.clarkcountycourts.us/.

Participation in the Civil-Bench Bar meetings is open to all members of the State Bar of Nevada. The volunteer Committee is chaired by Alexandra McLeod who monitors the virtual suggestion box. Suggested topics and questions for discussion at meetings should be sent to: EJDCBenchBar@gmail.com. Shannon Splaine coordinates the lunch sponsors, but for virtual meetings, her firm Lincoln Gustafson and Cercos, has graciously hosted the meetings over Zoom, which allows a larger number of participants. Contact any member of the committee, or Department 26 to request to be added to the list for the email announcing the meeting and providing Zoom log in information. Other members of the committee include Ismael Amin, Augustus Claus, James Edwards, James Kohl, Timothy O’Reilly, Paul Ray, Travis Shetler, Aaron Shipley, and Sherry Thome.

Another service the committee performs is distribution of brief summaries of recent civil opinions from the appellate courts. Jennifer Arledge is looking for volunteers to assist her with this valuable project. When a program will include at least half an hour of continuing education content the committee requests approval of CLE credit from the Nevada CLE Board. Nadia Van Magdenko Krall has coordinated CLE reporting, and we will need someone to take over this job after she takes the bench.

Chief Judge Bell will address the Bench-Bar meeting on December 8, 2020 at noon; topics will include updates to Administrative Orders, plans for civil jury trials, and new judges. The committee is inviting the new civil/criminal division judges to attend and introduce themselves; we look forward to learning more about our new judges at future meetings. Eric Dobberstein, President of the State Bar of Nevada, will present an update on an issue identified at the November 2019 Let’s Talk Summit, the significant role that lack of civility plays in creating lawyer stress, and the resultant adverse impacts on lawyer wellness. The Let’s Talk, Findings and Recommendations summarized the issue at page 4:

“Specifically, attendees noted that a lack of civility creates a culture of fear and depression, poor morale from a negative work environment, and anxiety from bullying in the workplace.”

Let’s Talk, Findings and Recommendations

While Bench-Bar luncheons, have not cured incivility or eliminated stress, perhaps that is simply because not enough members of the bar have participated. I invite you to join a virtual Bench-Bar meeting where we will offer you the latest news about civil practice in the Eighth Judicial District. Planning for 2021 is underway, our meetings will continue at noon on the second Tuesday of the month. While meetings will be virtual for the foreseeable future, we look forward to returning to in person meetings so you can enjoy a bite to eat with your professional colleagues and judges, which may help lower stress or encourage greater civility when you have cases together.

About this article

This article was originally published in the “Pro Bono” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (December 2020). See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2020/communique-december-2020/.

© 2020 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

About the author:
Judge Gloria Sturman

Judge Gloria Sturman took the bench in Department 26 on January 3, 2011. Prior to being elected, Judge Sturman practiced law in Las Vegas for over 27 years. She served as president (’94) of the Clark County Bar Association.