The View From Here

A Reflection: 40 Years and Growing

by Olcott Thompson, OCDLA President

From the June-July 2019 issue of The Oregon Defense Attorney

For me, the past four years on the Board of Directors have been an incredible journey, one I hope many of you can undertake. Being on the board has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. We have a great organization, with a board that truly works together to keep this great organization moving forward. It has been an honor to be the president for two years.

Besides the board, OCDLA has an incredible staff. While I think almost every member sees how much they do for the organization, board members see what really goes on behind the scenes, and their work is incredible. We have made the transition from one executive director to another and it was as seamless as possible.

We also transitioned from one lobbyist to another, and Mary Sofia has built on the work of Gail Meyer (and her predecessors) to further elevate our standing in the legislature. Now if we can just get more money for public defense!

A 40 Year Legacy
Forty years ago criminal defense had no presence in the legislature and only a small one in the appellate courts. We now have a positive presence in both places. Legislators listen to us and the appellate courts do too.
For the membership, OCDLA has been instrumental in sharpening our abilities. Great education programs, which allow us to trade ideas in person, are something probably few dreamed about 40 years ago but which are not second to none, not to mention the electronic ways we exchange resources, ideas and knowledge, such as the Pond, Books Online and the Library of Defense. OCDLA is committed to making each of these programs even better.

I do not know what the founders of OCDLA dreamed of, but they created a very successful organization. They gave it to us and it is now our job to keep the organization going, make it better, and pass it on to our successors, who in another 40 years can marvel at how much we accomplished in the first 40 and how much more they will be able to do because of what we have done.

Right now we are working on creating a more financially sustainable organization. After my term as president ends I will be part of a group of members who will try to develop a solid financial foundation and sustainable future for OCDLA.

To stay current and cutting-edge in continuing legal education, OCDLA needs a financial structure that is sustainable. That is where we all come in. We can help OCDLA have a sustainable financial base beyond reliance on membership dues and seminars. One idea we will look into is establishing an endowment fund—one that is small at first but over time it should generate enough money to make a noticeable contribution to OCDLA’s yearly budget.

Valuing Our Contacts
As I wrote a year ago, we all leave a legacy; good, bad, or indifferent, we leave our mark on everyone we come in contact with. If we do our jobs “right,” our clients receive good outcomes. They may not realize this until later, but our connections with our clients change their lives (and ours, too).

The same change happens with our broader contacts, such as how we interact with organizations. We can and do change them by how we interact with them. Participate in the legacy. Seriously consider not just being an OCDLA member, but becoming a greater part of OCDLA. Join a committee. Run for the Board (terms are only two years). Become a Life Member. Donate. Encourage your legislators about bills and ideas OCDLA champions.. Be part of criminal and juvenile defense in Oregon. You will not regret it and you will leave your mark.

Thank you everyone for allowing me to be on the Board of Directors and board members for allowing me to preside for two years. It has been fun. I will miss it. Soon I shall be a Dead President. Thank you.