by Carla N. Archie
Allow me to start my first newsletter column as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar with a few simple thank yous.
Every day that I wake up, I thank God for the privilege and opportunity to do more and do better. I am especially grateful for the privilege and opportunity to serve as president of MCB. Because I believe, like Marian Wright Edelman, that service is the rent we pay for being here.
I also appreciate my colleagues at Wells Fargo. I wouldn’t expect to find a “best friend” at work. But are there people at work who do what best friends do--- listen, advise and support my personal and professional development? Yes! In that sense, I have lots of “best friends” at Wells Fargo and I thank them for their support.
I also thank our former Bar presidents who give life to the concept of servant leadership. They have guided the Bar, sacrificed countless hours of time, enormous talent and untold resources. We thank you. I, in particular, am grateful for your example and humbled to follow in your footsteps.
When I was younger, I used to dream of changing the world. I used to dream of solving problems and making sweeping changes with ripple effects that would be felt around the globe. And then I got older. I've now come to the conclusion that real meaningful change--- positive, impactful, even life-altering change---- rarely rushes in like a raging river. It happens daily... a compilation of small, conscious, intentional acts.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for [change]."
We've all heard the crude lawyer jokes. We've probably told a few ourselves. But I'm convinced that, in order to preserve the core of this noble profession, we must start with small, deliberate acts of kindness. With that, we can change the conversation and redirect the narrative about lawyers with demonstrations of how MCB cares. That's a theme you'll likely hear repeated throughout my term as president. MCB cares.
MCB cares about its members.
We are nearly 5,000 attorneys strong. Our members are as diverse as the problems we solve--- attorneys of different colors, genders, ages, practice areas, firm sizes and professional aspirations. There are newly admitted lawyers and those winding down their practice. Those who have been practicing for five months and others for 50 years. Those who dictate letters and others who tweet. And MCB cares about each of you! We demonstrate that support--- like “best friends”--- by offering programs and events that support your personal and professional development. Programs like Linking Lawyers and the Apex Mentoring program. We offer section memberships to help attorneys in the same practice group share subject matter expertise. We have the Bar Leadership Institute to help develop personal leadership skills and CLE courses to develop your professional skills. We have a multitude of access points to serve the diverse interests of our Bar. Why? Because MCB cares.
MCB cares about the community.
I count it a blessing to be part of this noble profession. We are respected members of the community who others frequently turn to for advice and counsel, for strategic planning and effective leadership. And with that blessing comes the awesome responsibility to serve the least of those among us.
MCB cares about the under-served, the down-trodden and disenfranchised. MCB cares about access to legal services and the fair and equitable administration of justice. We demonstrate that through the work of the Community Service Committee, the Legal Volunteer Recruitment Committee and the Nonprofits and Client Pro Bono Committee--- efforts which are intentionally designed to tackle the difficult gaps our neighbors face by donating services that only we, as uniquely skilled lawyers, can provide. Why? Because MCB cares.
As I start my term as president, my goal is not to change the world, but to be forward-thinking and inclusive, and to give attention to where the puck is going next.
Wayne Gretsky, the great hockey player, said that the secret to becoming a great hockey player is to skate to where the puck is going, not where the puck is. I believe the same is true for effective leaders--- to think ahead, to evaluate the trends and trajectories and to take the small, daily, deliberate steps that support our members and the communities we serve.
I look forward to hearing from you and working with you as we skate to where the puck is going, as we continue to address the needs of our members and our community, and change the narrative about lawyers with small, intentional demonstrations of how MCB cares.
All the best,