Feel the Love

The 127th Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention in Memphis was a resounding success. The TBA, Tennessee Association for Justice, Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women, Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers and the Tennessee Judicial Conference met simultaneously for a week-long extravaganza of world-class CLE, well-deserved celebrations of great work, participation in energized planning and governance meetings and, importantly, to generally enjoy camaraderie (a/k/a fun) with our fellow attorneys and judges.

Thank you to all who attended the convention and thank you to our generous sponsors who helped make this convention even more special by underwriting the blockbuster programs and entertainment. Several TBA Board of Governors members expressed the sentiment that the post-convention theme could best be described as "Feel the Love." I have to agree.

I step up to build on the great work we accomplished working together. The sections, committees, leadership and staff of the TBA are all hard at work again as we enthusiastically enter the new Bar year.

This year, the TBA will continue to focus on Access to Justice as there is much work to do. The need is not only great " it is greater. The numbers we watch to help us identify and address the need do not lie. We will join with the nation in a week of pro bono and public service work Oct. 24- 31 to attack the need in our state, and plans are underway now for that massive effort.

We will hold Rule of Law Conference II to build on the important initiatives generated from the multidisciplinary work of the first conference of business, education, religious, corporate and civic leaders who met last fall in Nashville. Merit selection of judges and civics education were two of the top action items identified by the first group as critical Rule of Law issues in our state. The TBA immediately moved forward with another year of tremendous work to advocate for and build a better merit selection system in Tennessee. That work will continue as we witness a new Judicial Nominating Committee at work and as we enter another legislative session in 2010 with the possibility of a constitutional convention on the horizon.

We will implement a Civics Education initiative this year through the TBA Public Education Committee specially chaired by Barbara Holmes of Nashville in response to the call for lawyers to step up and speak out in a state where too few people can correctly identify the three branches of government.

The TBA will step up our work to increase diversity in our profession and particularly in our organization. Our Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity is hard at work to move us forward this year.

History is important to our organization, and the TBA Summer School CLE program for 2010 will be a World War II history trip to Normandy, France, June 19- 26, 2010, as we take advantage of what little time we have left to experience living history with veterans of WWII and visit the birthplace of our legal system under William the Conqueror in Caen, France.

Our 27 sections and 15 committees are well underway with work plans for this year to accomplish their goals and move forward with the incredible substantive initiatives they produce each year. Our section and committee members do great work, and I want to ensure that we shine a light on the lifeblood of the TBA as these lawyers continue to develop innovative ways to deliver valuable, cutting-edge legal programs and services to all members. Just one example is the Environmental Law Section, which is working to bring us a Green Initiative to give all members in all practice settings ways to make small changes that together make a big difference.

In addition to asking you to give back, as you have demonstrated so well that you can and will do, I will also ensure that the TBA works hard to address pressing issues facing all Tennessee lawyers in every setting large or small as we navigate our way through the uncertain economic and professional times we continue to face.

One specific and recent development is that the TBAMS Corporation is up and running to bring you what you " our members " have been asking us for. Competitively priced health care insurance with flexible options, disability insurance, long-term care insurance and other important employee benefit solutions will be coming from this new effort.

We accomplish great things when we work together. We also greatly benefit when we take the opportunity and the time to meet together. I am already looking forward to seeing you in Nashville June 2-5, 2010, for another celebration of work, service and fun.