LAKE OZARK, Mo. – Kansas City lawyer Dana Tippin Cutler, a partner in her family’s firm of James W. Tippin & Associates, was sworn in Thursday as the 2016-17 president of The Missouri Bar. Cutler, the first African American woman to hold the position, took her oath of office as president before more than 800 lawyers and judges at the opening luncheon of the 135th Annual Meeting of The Missouri Bar held at Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake Ozark. She succeeds Camdenton lawyer Erik Bergmanis, managing member of the Bergmanis Law Firm L.L.C., as president of the 30,000-member organization.
“We have a great responsibility as The Missouri Bar. We have a responsibility to our members to provide you with the tools you need to run a business and to be the best attorney you can be for your clients. The Missouri Bar has a responsibility to the judicial branch of our state government, to advocate for a judiciary not swayed by politics that can maintain its impartiality and the rule of law. And most importantly, The Missouri Bar has a responsibility to the people of Missouri to assure that in all facets of the law, justice is served,” Cutler said.
In her speech, Cutler outlined four goals for her presidency to “secure the organizational foundation so that our bar can continue to successfully support you (lawyers), the judiciary and the citizens of our great state today and tomorrow.”
Cutler’s four goals include:
- Upgrading technology to better serve members and the public
- Continued development of the 20/20 Vision Strategic Plan
- Offering new continuing legal education (CLE) opportunities such as CLE by the Sea
- Identifying our implicit biases through a hosted month of courageous collaboration events
Cutler said updated technology, an organic strategic plan, new CLE programs and courageous collaborations will make sure the state bar continues to help Missouri lawyers do an even better job for their clients.
Cutler said updated technology is key to the bar’s core function of better serving its members. She said an IT audit was recently completed which provides an action plan to create more user-friendly features to enable lawyers and the public to better interact with the bar.
“We will be taking that audit and developing a long-term plan and budget to bring the bar’s technology forward and then beyond,” Cutler said.
Cutler said the state bar began it’s 20/20 Vision Strategic Plan under the leadership of 2015-16 president Erik Bergmanis and said it is important for the state bar to continue to develop a plan that is focused and organic so that it can grow and morph as the organization’s needs change in the future. Cutler noted the plan will be shaped my input from members and recent projects such as the Future of the Profession Report released this month by a task force of judges and lawyers.
“We need to finalize our strategic plan so that the state bar can be more nimble and responsive to the needs our members and citizens,” Cutler said.
CLE by the Sea
Cutler said learning new tools and techniques from recognized Missouri lawyers is the heart of MoBarCLE programming but believes lawyers should be able to have some fun while continuing their legal education. That is why the bar has launched CLE by the Sea, a three-day CLE program set for Jan. 11-13 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Cutler also plans to host a month of Courageous Collaboration in February as she believes one way to embrace diversity and better serve our work colleagues and clients is looking at our implicit biases and discussing them with each other.
“We all have our biases – good and bad – that influence our decision-making and relationships, but I believe we can come together in courageous collaboration with each other in our firms to reach the outcomes that we all want—retention of quality lawyers who are given the opportunity to develop quality work, to move into decision-making positions at their firms or in their offices and to have faith in court decisions and processes that not only appear fair, but are fair,” Cutler said. “But to achieve this, we have to be willing to come to the table as our authentic selves and then adjust our internal barometers of what is right and fair. I believe this will enable us to create real solutions to challenges in our profession, making us better lawyers in working with each other and our clients, hiring and retaining quality lawyers, and making sure decisions are fair.”
Under Cutler’s leadership, The Missouri Bar will continue to promote equal access to justice for all as well as strive to share relevant information to help educate the public and enhance citizens’ understanding of the of how the law impacts their daily lives.
Cutler added she will continue to work on several key initiatives already underway, including legislative outreach, large firm and corporate counsel outreach, fostering diversity in the profession, collaborating with other bar associations on lawyer assistance programs, pro bono outreach and civics education.
Cutler will serve a one-year term as president. The election for her successor will be held at The Missouri Bar’s Annual Meeting in September 2017.
Personal and Professional Background
Cutler has been a member of the Board of Governors since 1999 and has served in various leadership roles in the legal profession and state bar over the past 25 years.
She is a past president of The Missouri Bar Foundation and was appointed by the president of the American Bar Association to serve on the Committee for Professionalism. She also has served on the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence and The Missouri Bar Trustees. She has served as the chair of the Committee on Minority Issues for The Missouri Bar and was instrumental in starting The Missouri Bar’s Leadership Academy. She has served as legal counsel for the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation, as chair and vice-chair of the KCMBA’s Circuit Court and Civil Practice Committee and vice-chair of the Insurance Law Committee. She is a two-time recipient of The Missouri Bar’s President Award for service.
In addition to her duties with the bar, Cutler is a past president and current member of the Board of Curators for Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. Her community service includes serving on the boards of Swope Parkway Health Center and Swope Community Enterprises. She is an active member of Concord Fortress of Hope and is the proud mother of three sons Keith, Jr., Dean and Austin Cutler and is the partner, in practice and in marriage, of Keith Cutler, Sr.
Cutler received her legal education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and a bachelor of arts from Spelman College.