December 2011 President's Column
For the Public Good -- Thank You
By: Robert C. Dortch, Jr.
It's December and we are halfway through the Bar's fiscal year. Because of the hard work of the Bar's staff and your willingness to volunteer as board members and section/committee leaders and members, much progress has been made towards fulfilling the Bar's goals and strategic plan. Thank you.
It's December and we are in the midst of the holiday season. It's a time of year when many of us take time to reflect on what has occurred in our professional and personal lives during the past year. It is also a time to look forward to the coming new year and set those annual goals and resolve to make changes -- work harder, work less, spend more time with family and friends, consider a new practice area (or even a new career), lose those 10 (pick a number) pounds or consider increasing your volunteer activities.
It's December and all of us will hear and read about those less fortunate amongst us and how many of our neighbors are struggling. I hope that you will reflect on what you and we as the Mecklenburg County Bar can do for the public good, the pro bono aspect of our great profession. A moving example of tireless and selfless pro bono volunteerism was offered at the November 3rd Law & Society Luncheon. Massachusetts attorney Michael Mone gave an unsettling account of the eight-year wrongful imprisonment and detainment of his Uzbekistan client at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Mone and his son struggled for two years to free their client and find a country willing to accept him and ultimately his family. They succeeded and his client and family were reunited in Ireland. Mr. Mone also recognized Jeff Davis and George Daly for their considerable pro bono efforts on behalf of their clients detained at Guantanamo Bay. At the conclusion of the lunch and inspired by Mr. Mone's presentation, several Bar members were heard questioning themselves about what more could they do for the greater good.
Many of you are doing great things for the public good, and for that the Bar and the community are thankful. Two of our own who have committed their professional lives for the greater good were recognized at the Law & Society Luncheon. Ken Schorr, Executive Director of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Ted Fillette, Senior Managing Attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina, were presented with the Ayscue Professionalism Award. Thank you, Ken and Ted, for you and your staffs' hard work for the benefit of low income clients throughout our community.
It's December, so we also turn our thoughts to the coming New Year. One of the Bar's goals is to increase volunteerism within the Bar and to streamline the coordination among the Bar's various committees, sections, divisions, the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation and the Bar's collaborative organizations. In doing so, the Bar has formed the Lawyers as Volunteers Advisory (LAVA) Committee. It is a work in progress. I'm confident that there will be several starts, stops and changes of direction. Some Bar members have questioned whether forming the LAVA committee will result in the Bar competing with other organizations or stifling possible volunteer opportunities. That is neither the intent nor the goal of the Bar. We pledge to do neither. We do believe, however, it is important to increase volunteerism within the Bar in furtherance of the Bar's mission and purpose and that is the goal of this new committee.
It's December and we look to the future. The Bar celebrates its 100th anniversary next year. The festivities begin in mid-January and continue through the end of June. April 2012 has been designated as a month of opportunities in Celebration of Community Service. More details on these opportunities to come. If you have not already done so, please mark your calendar to participate in at least one of the Community Service opportunities. Wouldn't it be amazing if incoming Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Chair Frank Emory (and a past president of the MCB) could add to his talking points that 100 percent of Mecklenburg County Bar lawyers participated in community service during the Bar's Centennial when he is pitching Charlotte to businesses around the country and the world? Realistic? Maybe not. But this is the season to give thanks and to dream. I hope all of you feel called to volunteer for the greater good next year.
May all of you enjoy a peaceful and safe holiday season.