Reflecting on 2012-13
By Robert E. Harrington
2012-13 has been a great year for our Bar. At the Annual Meeting last May, we listed five focus areas for the fiscal year:
· Efficiently and effectively performing our regulatory functions
· Securing a location for our new Bar Center
· Increasing mentoring and networking activities for our members
· Furthering our diversity and inclusion efforts
· Supporting the delivery of legal services to low-income residents of Mecklenburg County
With the year drawing to a close, we can say that we have made progress on each of these fronts.
Our staff and volunteer lawyers continue to assure that the MCB's regulatory functions are performed well. Among other things, over the past year, we have held an election of State Bar Councilors. We have arranged the swearing-in of 207 new lawyers. And we have held an election to recommend judicial candidates for District Court vacancies to the Governor, a vital service that our members continue to perform in a diligent and informed manner. In addition,the MCB has continued to conduct grievance investigations and handle fee disputes efficiently.
By now, it comes as no surprise that much of our attention this year has been focused on the relocation of the Bar & Foundation Center. By the time of this article's publication, we expect to have closed the sale of both of our parcels of property (Queens Road and Luther Street), purchased our new location in the Greenway Business Center, and leased interim space for the Bar and Foundation at 1123 S. Church Street in the Charlotte Catholic Diocese building.
As important as these results was the process we followed. Led by Pender McElroy and Bill McMullen, the Future Bar and Foundation Center Committee spared no effort to keep our membership informed at each step -- a process I described last October in this column.
Meanwhile, our Professionalism, Lawyer Life and Culture Committee, and, in particular, its Linking Lawyers program, spearheaded by Bar Secretary Lina E. James, Christian P. Cherry, and Casey M. Viser, have continued to refine our programs to support new lawyers and lawyers in practice transition. The Bar's Diversity and Inclusion Committee has continued to work to increase diversity and inclusion in our attorney work force and to level the playing field for our lawyers.
At the beginning of the fiscal year, we committed to strengthening the relationship between the Bar and our partner organizations in providing legal services to low-income citizens. Building on the work done by our Lawyers as Volunteers Advisory Panel, over the past few months, we have worked intently with the leaders of Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina to improve our coordination of pro bono legal services. We look forward to continuing to work with LSSP, LANC, the Council for Children's Rights, and other organizations to assure that, as a 4,600+ Bar, we are doing all that we can do to provide legal services to those in need. I am extremely grateful for the hard work of all who have participated in this effort.
Finally, we have worked hard on the day-to-day things that keep the MCB going. Due to the dedicated effort of our staff and our Finance Committee, led by MCB Treasurer John C. Nipp, the Bar has had another successful year financially. We owe credit for much of our financial success to the continued quality and quantity of CLE programs. Our Director of CLE Lisa Armanini and our CLE Committee have done a tremendous job meeting the high goals Bar leadership set for them. And, while only the true law nerds among us are likely to be excited by it, we have devoted many hours to reviewing and revising our MCB bylaws to make sure that they appropriately guide the operation of our rapidly growing Bar.
Thanks for letting me serve as Bar President for the year. It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. The Bar is in great hands with President-Elect Tricia M. Derr and the rest of our new Board and Executive Committee. Here's to an even more successful year in 2013-14!