This column is adapted from Chris Lam’s speech delivered
at the May 23, 2019 MCB Annual Meeting
In April, Anne and I took our girls to Washington, DC for spring break. We saw many of the usual monuments, memorials and museums. We were also fortunate to have a private tour of the National Archives and as the four of us stood alone in the Rotunda with only our historian guide and our nation’s charter documents, I was struck by the courage and the foresight that these formative leaders had to shape our country. Then, three days later, we all sat in the front row of the Supreme Court and thought of the cases that have been argued there that define our rights and freedoms, often harkening back to the principles laid out in the four pages of the Constitution. I thought of the important and critical role that an independent judiciary has in our democracy.
And I felt immensely proud to be a lawyer. While we will likely never argue a case before the Supreme Court, what we all do every day – whether in court or at a deal table or more likely than not on the phone or via email – is important because of our license. As attorneys, we are entrusted by our clients to solve their problems and create opportunities. We are charged with upholding the rule of law and engendering public trust in our system of justice. And, we have a responsibility to provide those important services not just to those who can pay our rates, but to those without equal access to justice and to those without the means to assert their rights. As I look into this crowd, I am encouraged and optimistic that the lawyers of Mecklenburg County understand this and live into it daily.
As I considered what to write, I kept coming back to two words: service and thanks. From the moment I began my legal career in 2002 at Kennedy Covington, service was a common theme. It was in the DNA of the firm and the partners with whom I worked and from whom I learned what it means to be a lawyer. Not just service to our clients, but service to the profession, and service to the community.
It wasn’t a matter of whether you would get involved, but where. And what I came to know – as all of you know – is that this commitment to service and involvement exists across our Bar and legal community. Mecklenburg County lawyers have a long and proud tradition of leading the way in the most important issues of our day and applying their talents to government, nonprofits, and of course within the legal system. I am honored to now have this opportunity to serve you, my fellow members of the Mecklenburg County Bar.
I also mentioned thanks. Thank you to all other Past Presidents and Bar leaders who serve and have served on our Board, sections, and committees. Your selfless commitment to providing value and improving our profession through things like CLE, mentoring, and diversity and inclusion is vital.
Thank you to the dedicated staff of the MCB for your tireless work supporting the members and these initiatives. A special thanks to Leah Campbell for her excellent service as Interim Executive Director as we identify a new Executive Director to succeed the 15 years of service by Nancy Roberson.
Thank you to my firm and my colleagues at Bradley for supporting this non-billable role. I am proud to be your partner and I am proud of the many ways in which each of you also serve this Bar and our community.
Presidents often use these remarks to discuss priorities, agendas, and initiatives on which they intend to focus during their term in office. MCB Past President Timika Shafeek-Horton focused on member value and member inclusion and engagement. A lot of work and progress has been made this year, but we aren’t finished. And I am smart enough not to reinvent the wheel. I intend to work with our leadership to analyze and implement the recommendations of the Membership Value Task Force and the CLE Audit Task Force. Those reports will be available at MeckBar.org and I encourage you to read them.
As one immediate example of benefits and value, your complimentary technology CLE – “Data Privacy and Cybersecurity 101: Cyber Issue Spotting for Lawyers” featuring my Bradley colleagues, Steve Snyder and Courtney Achee – will be available for a video replay at the Bar & Foundation Center every other month beginning August 26 as part of what we’re calling Member Value Mondays. It will also be available on demand beginning July 1.
With respect to the task forces, I want to recognize Anne Tompkins and Heath Gilbert for their work as co-chairs of the Membership Value Task Force and Rhonda Patterson who chaired the CLE Task Force. Each of them devoted countless hours to the work of the task forces, with a singular focus of improving and highlighting our value proposition.
Our priority is you, the members. Indeed, I want our mantra to be “Member Focused, Members First.” We must all play a part in this and I specifically invite you to join us. If you haven’t felt connected, if you haven’t been sure how to get involved or even whether to get involved, the door is open.
This is our Bar. This is your Bar. I look forward to making it work for you. Thank you.