January 2012 President's Colum
100 Years Old and Looking Good
By: Robert C. Dortch, Jr.
You may have heard that your Mecklenburg County Bar turns 100 years old this year. One hundred years old and more than 4,400 members strong. As you also may have heard, the Bar begins commemorating its Centennial anniversary this month with a series of receptions, a gala and a visit from a distinguished panel of North Carolina (and Mecklenburg County) based U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judges. On January 19, 2012, the Mecklenburg County Bar will host an opening reception of the exhibit "Picturing the Past: A History of the MCB" at the Levine Museum of the New South. The exhibit runs through June 24, 2012.
We are privileged to have U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Albert Diaz, Allyson K. Duncan and James A. Wynn, Jr. in town on January 20, 2012, to hear three appeals in the Robert D. Potter Courtroom in the Federal Courthouse. On January 26, the Centennial Lecture Series begins. This monthly series runs through June 2012. Topics include Best Trial Attorneys Over the Age of 70, History of the African American Attorneys in Mecklenburg County and History of Women Attorneys in Mecklenburg County.
On February 16, 2012, the Centennial Gala takes place at The Westin Hotel. The Centennial Committee worked hard to land a speaker worthy of the Centennial and we're fortunate to have former Solicitor General of the United States, Walter E. Dellinger III, in attendance. Entertainment will be provided by the Bar Revue and later in the evening GrooveTown. The evening will include dinner, drinks, music and if you dare -- dancing. Tickets for this black tie event are $125.
Every Bar member will receive -- free of charge -- a copy of "An Independent Profession: A Centennial History of the Mecklenburg County Bar," co-authored by Howard Covington and Marion Ellis. The authors will have a book signing at the Levine Museum of the New South in late March. Thanks to the Bar History Committee, the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, and the many firms and individuals whose donations of hundreds of hours of their valuable time and their hard earned dollars this gift is possible.
Finally, April 2012 will be month-long Celebration of Community Service. The Bar aims to organize and mobilize more than 1,000 attorney volunteers during April to donate their time, energy and talents to our local community. The Bar appreciates the fact that many of you already volunteer in a variety of ways. We hope that you will join us in April in this unique Bar-wide event.
While we begin the Centennial celebration, we are also at the midway point of the Bar's fiscal year. Now is a good time to assess where we are in relation to the Bar's annual goals. As noted above, the MCB has implemented and is now enacting the Centennial celebration. The Future Bar-Foundation Center Committee continues its efforts to identify and commit to a site for the future Center. Numerous potential sites have been investigated and due diligence continues on several sites. The present Bar Center remains for sale or exchange. The Bar continues its efforts to strengthen its relationship with our friends in the public interest sector which now has substantial representation on the MCB Board of Directors. Thank you to those ADA's and PD's willing to be members of the Board. The Strategic Planning Committee is implementing the Strategic Plan, including increased committee, section and division accountability. Particular focus this year is on implementing the "best practices" provisions with the MCB committees.
Recognizing and embracing diversity remains an important Bar goal. The MCB continues to support, among others, the Special Committee on Diversity and Law Firm/Law Department signatories. We came up a bit short, however, in our efforts to report on the Bars receipt of a national diversity award at the ABA's annual convention in Toronto. While the text associated with the article included comments from the Special Committee on Diversity, we failed to include a broader range of diverse voices (or photo) in the article. We can do better.
Fostering an increased relationship with the judiciary is another goal. The MCB continues its efforts to have regular communications with our state and federal judges. CLE opportunities are planned on professionalism/civility for our Bar members. MCB representatives met with the Mecklenburg County District Court Judges (and the District Attorney and Public Defender) in an effort to increase and strengthen the Bar's relationship with those who play such important roles in our legal community. Finally, in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient volunteer assignments, the MCB is in the process of implementing the Lawyers as Volunteers Advisory Committee. Through this Committee, the Bar hopes to better focus all volunteer efforts and increase pro bono opportunities.
Again, thanks to all of you who have worked so hard on the Centennial Celebration and Bar History. We can never adequately convey the appreciation for your efforts. It should be an exciting several months for all of us. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the receptions, gala, appellate arguments and lecture series. I could be wrong, but I don't think any of us will have this opportunity again. Here's to a great 2012.