June 2011 President's Column
The Mecklenburg County Bar: As Relevant Today as in 1912!
By: A. Todd Brown
Next year the Mecklenburg County Bar turns 100 years old. Like the country and the legal profession generally, the MCB has endured the Great Depression; numerous wars; the Civil Rights Movement; social, political, and economic upheaval; landmark Supreme Court decisions; 9-11; the Great Recession; and everything in between. At every turn, lawyers have been in the vanguard -- providing leadership, solving problems, promoting respect for the rule of law. Society understands that lawyers and the legal profession are essential to the proper functioning of our democracy, now and in the future. Closer to home, the broad and diverse constituencies of Charlotte-Mecklenburg also understand that MCB members play vital roles in the major issues of the day.
For a hundred years lawyers populating the MCB's ranks have appreciated the import of Benjamin Franklin's famous quote: We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. We understand that a bar association is only as strong as the commitment of its membership. We understand the importance of our members actively becoming involved and ascending to leadership positions in the 70 or so sections and committees of the MCB. We understand that the MCB provides opportunities for similarly trained and like-minded professionals to network and socialize; enhance professional development; promote civility and professionalism; support a strong and independent judiciary; and give back to the community through pro bono and public service. And, perhaps now more than ever, we understand that to endure the MCB must systematically and constantly reach out and find ways to remain relevant to all segments of our membership. It may be an old cliché, but it is as true today as it was in 1912: In unity, there is strength.
Upon assuming the MCB presidency, I pledged to focus generally on developing a more cohesive membership and improving member participation. More specifically, in addition to advancing the MCB's mission to serve the public and the Bar members in improving and preserving the administration of justice, and to assist the North Carolina State Bar as described by statutory requirements, I committed to pursuing the following:
· enhancement of Bar programs, governance, and relationships among our members;
· transparency of our efforts;
· implementation of the Bar's Strategic Plan;
· good stewardship over the MCB's resources;
· promotion of greater collaboration and broader participation in our Bar by cultivating relationships within the MCB;
· exploration of ways to assist lawyers practice law in an economically challenging environment;
· greater networking opportunities, career placement initiatives, training and mentoring programs, and more CLE options;
· perpetuation of our diversity initiatives by continuing efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in all segments of the MCB;
· advocacy for strengthening the rule of law and maintaining an independent judiciary and profession; and
· championing professionalism and ethical behavior and securing access to justice and equality.
The MCB president's window of opportunity to implement and effect change is just one year, including transitioning to the next presidency in the waning months of the term. I therefore proceeded apace towards one overarching goal this the past year: that my efforts and leadership would demonstrate clearly and unambiguously that I tried to leave the MCB a little better off than I found it. Whether I succeeded is for others to decide. I am satisfied, however, that I served with the best interests of the MCB as my guide and that I depart office knowing the state of your MCB is strong!
So, like 98 presidents before me, I now move seamlessly and without fanfare into that highly cherished role of past president, standing always at the ready to serve our next president, our new Board of Directors and the MCB. And as we make preparations for the MCB's grand Centennial Celebration in 2012, I am optimistic about the prospect for continuing to build an institution that future MCB leaders and members will proudly celebrate at our bicentennial in 2112. For it is the institution itself that must endure!