Together, We Made a Difference

It seems like only yesterday that I composed my first “President's Perspective”; however, the time has already come for me to share with you some final thoughts. Let me first thank each of you for the privilege of serving as your president. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with so many of you discussing the issues of importance to our profession and the legal system as a whole, and working with you to effect positive change in both. It is truly inspiring to realize how many smart, dedicated, compassionate and community-minded lawyers we have as members of the profession and this association.

As I reflect on the 2013-14 bar year, I am so proud of all that we have accomplished by coming together in furtherance of several very important goals. We have made a tremendous impact in our communities in a number of ways, with the most important of these being the release of the Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors, our 300-plus-page guide that provides basic legal information to our exploding senior population.

We have also made great strides toward strengthening the voice of our profession. We have taken a number of steps to advance our effectiveness on legislative matters by partnering with you on creating new relationships with your legislators or further fostering those that already existed, and by creating TBA Impact. This new resource keeps you up-to-date on legislation pending before the General Assembly that impacts our profession, tells you whether the association has taken a position on it, and lets you know whom to contact to share your opinion.

Additionally, we created a polling process that allowed your voice to be heard with regard to the Supreme Court retention election, which will be held in the fall. In the next judicial cycle, we will actually be expanding that process to include the intermediate appellate courts as well. We also crafted the TBA Judicial Information Center, which contains a wealth of information about the upcoming judicial elections and can be accessed at www.tba.org/info/2014-tennessee-judicial-selection-information-center. We focused significant efforts on keeping a merit component to our system for selecting these appellate court judges, as our member survey demonstrated that this was an issue of key importance to you.

Through the work of our leadership team, sections and committees, and governmental affairs team, we proposed and obtained passage of a number of bills during this legislative session, including the passage of a five-year statute of repose for legal malpractice actions, which will allow our members to retire with peace of mind. We also submitted written comments on countless proposed rules changes, such as the extensive changes being proposed to the federal rules.

We also worked together to ensure the long-term health of our profession by providing tools to our newest members that will assist them in successfully launching their legal careers. We kicked off our mentoring program with a very strong class and also created “Solo in a Box,” a toolkit that provides comprehensive information to those hanging out their own shingle.

None of these accomplishments, and the many others that are not mentioned above, would have been possible without the tremendous work of our leadership team, including the members of our Board of Governors, House of Delegates and our Section and Committee chairs. An enormous amount of credit also goes to our association staff, which is the best in the country, in my opinion.

While it is important to celebrate this hard work and the resulting achievements, it is equally important to remember that our work is not done. As the philosopher John Dewey once said, “[A]rriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” Each time that we take a step toward bettering our legal system and our communities, we should use that achievement as a springboard to even greater positive change.

So in that spirit, I ask the following of each of you:

  1. continue to develop and strengthen relationships with your legislators and communicate your thoughts with them on pending legislation; and
  2. take an active role in the upcoming judicial elections and the vote on the proposed constitutional amendment addressing how we select our appellate judges, by voting yourself and through educating others about the importance of casting an informed ballot.

I say goodbye to my role as your president with sincere gratitude to each of you who has answered the call to help your association bring about change. Our incoming president, Jonathan Steen, will need for you to do likewise in the coming year in order to accomplish his worthy goals for the association. With your support and his outstanding leadership, the TBA is certain to reach new heights. After all, the fact remains that “Together We Make a Difference!”


Cindy Wyrick TBA President CINDY WYRICK practices law with Ogle, Gass & Richardson PC in Sevierville.