I’m writing this article on the first day of my term as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB), Sunday, July 1, 2018. This is my first official act. To prepare myself, I read through several articles that previous presidents wrote. Admittedly, it was the first time I had read some of them. The reading made clear that this article-writing obligation is one we presidents would not object to doing without. That said, I recommend the articles to you because they are informative and entertaining. They give insight on the MCB’s history and focus over the years, and they are good indicators of the ponderings of our various presidents in response to issues impacting our practices, our Bar and our community.
As for my ponderings, what’s on my mind right now is the fact that I know a number of my fellow MCB members will actually read what I write. I know that because I heard from a lot of you after you read my first article. You’ve expressed your support for the work the Bar will do this year to establish and state our value proposition. You’ve volunteered to help, and you’ve offered ideas. Thank you. You have given me a heads up that you are paying attention. That sets up accountability which is always a good thing, I think. Because you seem interested and because not everyone who has expressed an interest in serving on the membership value taskforce can do so – a taskforce of 25 or 50 would be too big - we’ll publish the names of the selected taskforce members in an upcoming newsletter. Hopefully you will agree that we’ve chosen people who will represent you well.
My goal is to have the results of any findings we make in time to incorporate changes into next year’s budget. I have already encountered a speed bump. Apparently, the MCB is not the only game in town and the consultants we want to work with on evaluating our philosophy on CLE can’t start working with us until November – even though we’re ready now. Speed is important, but obtaining results we can use is more important. As we move into the more challenging aspects of this task, I encourage you to stay tuned, ask questions and try to be patient. Know we’ll be doing our best.
Also on my mind is the fact that it’s summer. For lawyers, that means an influx of law students who either know they want to work in Mecklenburg County or are trying to determine whether this is the right area for them to live and work. I wanted to live and work in Charlotte because I saw it as vibrant, growing, affordable and welcoming of people who weren’t from here. I was right about Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, but times have changed. Have you seen the prices of uptown apartments? Our city is becoming more diverse, as is our Bar. Here at the MCB we are intentional about welcoming new members. For example, we hold swearing-in ceremonies for new Bar admittees. We invite their families and friends to attend and we provide a welcome bag with information about the MCB and how to get involved. We’re also calling new members to welcome them into our Bar; and, they don’t have to pay Young Lawyers Division dues during their first year of membership. You can help too. Invite new lawyers you encounter to attend a Bar event with you. Make sure they’re receiving Bar Blasts so they can stay abreast of what’s going on or find some activity that’s right for them. Invite them to learn more about the many ways to get involved by reviewing the MCB’s website and calendar or calling the Bar staff to learn more about upcoming activities. The summer is a great time to get involved as the new fiscal year is just getting started.
Summer also means kids who are not in school, vacations you want to take, and still work. I may have started this article on my first day in office, but I’m finishing it at my daughter’s swim meet. When I finish writing this article, and in between her events, I’ll be rereading witness outlines for an upcoming trial and combing through opposing counsel’s pretrial motions and brief. If I’m lucky, I won’t miss any of my daughter’s events. These thoughts bring me back to my reading articles other presidents wrote. Here’s the link to one I recommend that Tricia Derr wrote. It’s called “GSD.” I liked it and laughed because it’s a good reminder that everyone has a lot do. We are not alone.