By Tricia Morvan Derr
I moved to Charlotte when I was four years old. Save my Tarheel days, I've never left this beautiful city. Fast-forward to present and I have now been a member of the Mecklenburg County Bar nearly 16 years. This county, this city and the MCB are home to me; and I am proud to serve you as the 102nd President of the Mecklenburg County Bar.
The concept of "home" for me conjures thoughts of warmth, serenity, support and safety. More practically, home also includes endless dog hair, strewn toys, sippy cups and last minute school projects (now replaced with wet bathing suits and towels). Despite the usual frenzy and disorder, my home is blessed with plenty of happiness, love and laughter.
We, as the Bar and Bar Foundation of the 26th Judicial District, are in the midst of building our own new home in the Greenway Business Center. This project is over 10 years in the making. We are building this new home with lots of input from you, and reliance on you, both financially and in terms of the hundreds of volunteer hours dedicated to this project. Together, we will build a place of fellowship, education, congregation and resource for our lawyers, and in turn, for our community.
Speaking of community, our Bar is much more than the brick and mortar of the Bar and Foundation Center. As lawyers, we are charged with the moral and ethical obligation of promoting justice for the members of our community, and especially, for those with limited, or no resources. Our members include the lawyers and volunteer lawyers of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Legal Aid of North Carolina and Council for Children's Rights who dedicate careers, dollars and hours to serving the underprivileged.
The concept of "home" in the pro bono context is more congruent than I appreciated. Many pro bono services are devoted to promoting the sanctity and security of the homes of the underserved. Whether preventing unlawful foreclosure, securing a home from an abusive partner or parent, or serving the veterans who fought for our rights to have our homes, these pro bono services go to the very core and heart of our society. Each of us has the ability - and responsibility - to ensure the delivery of legal services to those who need it most. I hope you will join me in supporting our local pro bono legal services. The need is great and resource limited.
Turning back to "home," one of the most important - if not the most important - part of my home is raising our children. As parents, we recognize creating a healthy home includes raising our children to be good stewards of the future. Parents invest emotionally, financially and physically in rearing healthy and happy children hoping that they will be tomorrow's leaders - and that they, in turn, will raise the leaders of the day after tomorrow.
As a Bar, our tomorrow leaders are our young attorneys. Our future depends on successful mentoring and training of our talented young lawyers. Programs like the Bar Leadership Institute, Linking Lawyers and the work of the Young Lawyers Division focus on nurturing our future. I urge you to participate in mentoring and in guiding our young attorneys toward a successful career path. Hopefully, they will become mentors and leaders for the lawyers who will lead the day after tomorrow.
We must also support our colleagues on the other end of the career spectrum. While full of great war stories, sage advice and infinite legal knowledge, most of our established attorneys have never had to transition out of practice, value and sell their practice, or hand the reins of leadership to a new managing partner. They, too, need us. We are working hard to create this new venue of support.
Finally, we must support, jealously guard and protect our judiciary, our court officials and resources. At every single MCB board meeting, the updates from our local court officials paint a grim picture of inadequate funding resulting in layoffs, threats of losing valuable and effective programs like the Drug Treatment Court, and the elimination of judicial positions. The crisis continues despite increasing case filings, especially in the social security realm. We simply cannot let this happen in our home.
My list is long and time short. However, there are around 5,000 of us now and we will make a difference. Thank you for your trust in me. More importantly, thank you for making the 26th Judicial District a place I proudly call home.