June 2012's President Column
Thanks and That's a Wrap
Robert C. Dortch, Jr.
A year ago, I had the privilege of being sworn-in as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar by The Honorable Marvin K. Gray. A year ago I wrote that, somewhat tongue in check, that I was surprised that the president of the Mecklenburg County Bar was actually expected to write the Presidents column for the monthly MCB newsletter. Werent there ghostwriters for that task? More than one past president shared with me his or her perception that just as you finished one column the deadline was upon you for the next column. You can now put me on that list.
Serving as president of the MCB has been an incredible experience, and for that I thank you. Of course, this was the Bars Centennial which we have celebrated over the last several months and will continue to celebrate for the next few months. A special thanks to Mark R. Bernstein and Ray S. Farris who chaired the Bar History Committee, and to Shirley L. Fulton and Mark W. Merritt who chaired the Centennial Committee. During our Centennial year, the Bar continued to try to identify an appropriate site for a new Bar center. We are making progress, due in large part to the hard work of Pender R. McElroy and William H. McMullen Jr., co-chairs of the Future Bar and Foundation Center Committee, and committee member Robert E. Henderson.
I have been asked many times if I knew what I was getting intowhen I became president. The short answer is yes,for the most part. I was fortunate to have been on the MCB Board or on the MCB Executive Committee when John W. Lassiter and Patrick K. Kelly served as president. I also had the very good fortune to serve as president-elect while A. Todd Brown put in his time as president. Thanks to them for their guidance and support. A very talented Executive Committee Robert E. Harrington, Tricia M. Derr, John C. Nipp, Lina E. James, and A. Todd Brown helped make the year fly by. The Bar is in great hands with Rob stepping in as president. And the MCB staff makes everything run as smoothly as possible.
Of course, with the title of presidentcome many privileges. As president, I was able to step in as referee on certain issues. Some of my rulingsmust have been on target because it appeared that both sides were equally upset with my decisions. When the Bar needs a volunteer to speak at a function or put a face on the Bar, the president is called. I was asked to be a model yes a model at a recent CLE conducted at a local department store. I agreed so long as the dressing room was kept at 68 degrees and the green M&Ms were removed from the candy jar. Both requests were ignored. My no autographspolicy, amazingly, was followed without exception. As president you are recognized anywhere you go. Walking into the office recently another lawyer asked (jokingly, I hope) if being president had gone to [my] head. I shared with him that I have been litigating a case with another Bar member for a couple of years. During a meeting with my litigation counterpart, I informed him that I needed to take a break to handle some MCB issues. He looked at me and asked: What exactly is it you do for the Bar? The presidential sash must have been at the cleaners that day.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your President. Thanks are owed to many: an understanding and patient spouse, Barbara, who heard on many occasions that I had a Bar gigand wouldnt be home; supportive partners and colleagues at Sellers Hinshaw who were there to cover for me when needed; an extremely hard working and dedicated MCB Board of Directors; a tireless and committed Executive Committee; and an extraordinarily devoted and talented MCB staff. Executive Director Nancy M. Roberson and her staff are incredible and deserve much credit for the good things going on within the Bar. Thanks to all of you for the opportunity to serve the Bar.