BANGOR, Maine — Anne-Marie L. Storey got a new title on New Year’s Day. The attorney with Rudman Winchell officially took over as president of the Maine State Bar Association.
During her year-long term at the helm of the 3,100-member organization, Storey plans to emphasize professionalism within the bar and increase its value to members.
“There are so many new, young lawyers starting out on their own, not working in a firm with older lawyers, that are not getting the kind of mentoring they might get in a firm,” she said Thursday. “They are missing some of that camaraderie.”
Storey said she hopes to gather experienced attorneys, called “master lawyers,” willing to help younger ones deal with legal issues or situations they have not faced before.
“We could pair up experienced solo practitioners with less experienced solo practitioners,” she said. “It would be less structured than more formal mentoring programs that have been discussed over the past few years.”
To remain licensed to practice law, attorneys are required to take continuing legal education, or, CLE, courses. Until recently, Maine attorneys earned CLE credits by taking courses from the bar association, according to Storey. Now, courses are offered over the Internet, sometimes for less than the bar association can offer them for. The Maine bar is working on offering more online courses and improving its social networking skills.
“We’ve asked our members why they joined the bar association,” she said. “The older ones said, ‘It’s just the thing you do.’ The younger ones need a reason to join and they are not as convinced of the value of face-to-face meetings and events as the older members are.”
Storey said that last year she attended a meeting of leaders from bar associations around the country. Large and small bars are facing the same challenges, she said.
Last year, Storey served as vice president of the bar association. David Wakelin of Portland was president. He said in an email last month that he expects she will “do an excellent job” as head of the organization.
“She is located in Penobscot County and can speak about issues affecting lawyers in her region and further north and east of Bangor,” Wakelin said. “This is very helpful as the bar association is made up of lawyers from all counties of the state, and from law firms of one lawyer to more than 100 lawyers.
“Since the bar association in Maine is a ‘voluntary bar’, meaning that lawyers in Maine are not required to be members of the association [as compared to states with ‘mandatory bars’], it is critically important that our association understand the changing needs and concerns of the lawyers practicing in Maine so that we can provide a solid value proposition and reasons to join in a difficult economic environment,” he said.
The bar association will hold its annual meeting later this month in Portland in conjunction with a seminar offered by the Justice Action Group. A series of workshops on serving the legal needs of Maine’s aging and immigrant populations will be co-sponsored by both groups. Storey said Thursday that collaborations with other groups and holding meetings simultaneously with judges has been good for all involved and kept expenses down.
Storey was born in New York City but grew up on a farm in Culpepper, Va. She spent time in Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. She graduated from the Vermont Law School in Burlington.
Her primary legal focus at Rudman Winchell is on representing employers and insurance companies in employment-related matters. That includes giving her clients general employment advice, handling employment-related litigation, offering workplace training and representing clients before administrative agencies such as the Maine Human Rights Commission, the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board and the Unemployment Commission.
She currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Bangor Humane Society, the Maine Discovery Museum and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.
She lives in Winterport with her husband, John Hamer, and their St. Bernard, Madeline.