President's Message

Posted by: Cory Hohnbaum on Mar 1, 2016
by Cory Hohnbaum
I thought it might be interesting to look back at what was being written in the Bar newsletter this month five and ten years ago. I hope you enjoy the retrospective as much as I did.  
Ten years ago, Judge Shirley Fulton was President of our Bar and her column focused on work life balance. To be honest, I am not sure we have made a whole lot of progress as a profession on this issue in the last decade. The lead article was about Sarah Parker becoming Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Of course, last year we celebrated her retirement after a long and distinguished career. Alice Moore, then an attorney at Johnston, Allison & Hord, and now Assistant General Counsel at Novant Health, was featured for her mission trip to the Gulf Coast with her church to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Erwin Chemerinsky, the noted legal scholar then at Duke University and now at the University of California at Irvine, was announced as the Law Day speaker. Chemerinsky remains a frequent commentator on legal issues.  
On the lighter side, a story about the musical CD of Ray Owens and Asheville attorney Mark Rudow was highlighted. Fortunately for our Bar, Ray’s musical career did not take off and he continues to provide leadership to our community and the profession, currently chairing the Bar’s Pro Bono Evaluation Task Force. The fifth class of the Bar Leadership Institute was announced. The BLI is one of our Bar’s great successes and we just had this year’s BLI kick-off dinner last week. Bob Simmons, Executive Director of the Council for Children’s Rights, was the keynote speaker and gave an inspiring talk about lessons learned from his outstanding career. Josephine Hicks, a partner at Parker Poe, wrote an article about electronic discovery. It was insightful and cutting edge for the time but now seems antiquated as the complexities in that area of the law have mushroomed over the last decade.
Five years ago, Todd Brown, a partner with Hunton & Williams, was president of our Bar. His column referenced the underfunding of our judicial system in North Carolina generally and Mecklenburg County in particular. Those problems persist today. He also mentioned that space at the Bar center the month before was at a premium so much so that the Board of Directors meeting had to be offsite. Of course, those problems have been solved, and many others, with the new Bar & Foundation Center. The lead article highlighted our Bar and Bar Foundation being jointly named the 2011 Pride Awards Nonprofit Beneficiary for their “demonstrated commitment to building social capital and fostering inclusion throughout the Charlotte community.” The Bar and Foundation received a $10,000 donation in recognition of their efforts.
Everett Bowman, a partner at Robinson Bradshaw, was awarded the Antitrust Section’s Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Bar Association. Judge Albert Diaz was announced as the Law Day Luncheon speaker. We are fortunate that Judge Diaz continues to provide leadership to our Bar, currently serving on a task force studying how we can continue to make progress in promoting diversity and inclusion within our Bar. Danny Merlin wrote an article about the Young Lawyer’s Division work, focusing on the volunteer efforts at the Mecklenburg County’s Ask-A-Lawyer Day. Danny, now with Alexander Ricks, continues his commitment to our profession by serving as the Treasurer of the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation.  
Of course this is just a sampling of what was going on in our Bar five and ten years ago. This history lesson reminds me of the important work of our Bar in advancing our profession and of the talented and dedicated lawyers we are fortunate to have as part of our community. I hope it does the same for you.