Presidents Column: Holiday Wrap
As the Holiday Season arrives and the end of 2012 draws near, we reflect upon our Dallas Bar Association and the year that was.
In retrospect, what did the year 2012 look like? What did we as members give to the DBA in 2012? What did we do in 2012 to improve and enhance our Bar? Did we accomplish that organizational success to which we aspired? Did we transform our organizational intentions, goals and objectives from aspirational to actual?
Upon reflection, I realize that the Dallas Bar has once again shown that it is more than just the numerical sum of its members. I am reminded of a January affirmation that our members are a group of individuals with hopes, dreams and aspirations…all unique in their own way, yet united by commonality, defined by commitment and imbued with collective conscience to achieve common causes. Through its efforts and programming in 2012, the DBA has once again exhibited its collective conscience and commitment to utilize the gifts of its members’ time, talent and treasure for the betterment of the profession and the community. Accordingly, the Dallas Bar Association remains one of the premier bar associations in the country. Let’s review what makes this so…
Through its vibrant Committee and Sections, and often in collaboration with other legal and non-legal professional groups, the DBA presented quality CLE presentations in 2012 and continues to provide excellent CLE’s at no cost or low cost to its members. The DBA also provided service to the community through countless projects and initiatives. It built a house for Habitat for Humanity, matched mentors to mentees, and provided, and continues to promote, pro-bono legal services to those less fortunate in our community. In 2012, the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program celebrated its 30th anniversary of providing pro bono services and vital assistance to those in need, and the DBA is currently conducting its annual Campaign for Equal Access to Justice to ensure that these pro bono legal services continue into the near future.
The DBA also provided excellent professional development and networking through its Committees and Sections. In March of this year, the DBA commissioned the Trial Academy and provided helpful practice modules to practitioners throughout the year. In addition, the Dallas Bar continues to provide “Real Help In Hard Times” through the DBA’s Career Center and various networking opportunities throughout the DBA. Ours is a dynamic profession—with prevalent opportunities to rebuild, improve and enhance our profession and impact the lives of many. Through its efforts to improve the legal profession by helping others to grow within it, the Dallas Bar has made a “quiet bargain” —a promise to encourage an individual’s freedom to develop and pursue aspirations, while permitting that individual to utilize the support and resources of a professional legal network to effectuate those aspirations.
In 2012, the DBA continued its tradition of collaboration, within the legal community and outside of it. In March, the DBA (along with high schools, the local judiciary, and countless volunteer judges) hosted the annual Texas High School Mock Trial Competition State Championship. In April, the DBA introduced “Arts Month” as an opportunity for the Dallas Bar Association to focus on, and become better acquainted with, its neighbors in the Dallas Arts District, and for the arts community to become more familiar with the DBA as well. Also in April, through its collaboration with the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the U.S., the World Affairs Council of Dallas Fort Worth, and the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, the DBA co-hosted the GMF Marshall Forum, which was a gathering of international thought- leaders to discuss the transatlantic relationship and the implications of the law and the economy upon that relationship. Through the DBA Diversity Summit and other programming, the DBA promoted inclusion and diversity through cooperation within the profession and collaboration with other organizations and stakeholders. In the process of opening our Belo home to these events and numerous others, the DBA showcased the preeminence of our city and our bar to local, state, national and international audiences.
In 2012, as in years past, the DBA honored the profession while upholding the integrity of the legal system. At the annual MLK Day Luncheon in January, we recognized Dr. Walter Sutton, Jr. for his work in the cause of justice and his service to the community and the profession. At the Law Day Luncheon in May, the Honorable Judge Sam A. Lindsay reminded the audience of the value of upholding the Constitution daily, and the vital role that courts play as the cornerstone of society. In September, the DBA hosted its annual Bench Bar Conference, with numerous members of the bar and the judiciary in attendance, and where Mike McKool, Jr. was honored as Trial Attorney of the Year. In October, the DBA recognized excellence in legal reporting at the Philbin Awards, with insightful remarks by author and speaker Jeffrey Toobin of CNN. At the DBA’s Annual Meeting in November, we paid homage in memoriam to our departed colleagues, recognized our extraordinary members, commended our exemplary Committees and Sections, and honored the exceptional Harriet Miers with the Morris Harrell Professionalism Award.
It has been an extraordinary 2012 for the Dallas Bar Association, and one that has been immensely rewarding to me professionally and personally. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your President and to lead this prestigious organization. The DBA can rest assured that 2012 President-Elect Sally Crawford will do an excellent job as 2013 President.
Thank you to DBA Executive Director Cathy Maher and her excellent staff for their invaluable assistance during my presidency and for making 2012 another successful year for the DBA.
Thank you to all of the 2012 Section and Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and to the in-coming 2013 Section and Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs for helping to ensure the continuity and consistency of excellence. Thanks also to all of those members who offered tireless service and efforts to help the DBA continue to fulfill its mission of excellence and service. I am reminded that excellence is built on consistency, and I am cognizant of the value of consistency—a value often exceeding extraordinary achievement, exceptional accomplishment, or unpredictable brilliance. Among other things, consistency requires respect, focus, commitment, performance, and repetition. Your service is emblematic of these requisites. It takes time and commitment to create and maintain an institution, and it is the members of the DBA that have transformed it from merely an organization to the prominent institution that it is today.
Thank you for helping the DBA progress along the continuing path of becoming what it could become, and striving to make the local legal market become the best in the State and Nation. Thank you for paying heed to the “fierce urgency of now,” devoting those 12 or more hours to the Dallas Bar in 2012, adhering to the indelible belief that “Our Time Is Now”… a notion that transcends time and endures to ensure a lasting legacy for the future.
As I proceed from 2012 President to 2013 predecessor, certain inquiries may remain. What type of DBA do we have today? Is the DBA different now than it was one year ago? Will the DBA be different a year from now? I will leave the responses to these inquiries to others. But within what Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. characterized as “…the unfolding conundrum of life and history…,” and among the daily duties and devotions which drive us, I sense that the work continues… as lives lived, but unfulfilled…dreams dreamt, but unrealized…promises made, but unkept…novels written, but unpublished…arias composed, but unsung…mysteries solved, but undiscovered…journeys to places unseen,…excitement un-experienced…..and gifts intended, but not yet bestowed. Onward…