TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Suzanne Craig Robertson on Jun 1, 2018

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2018

Journal Name: June 2018 - Vol. 54, No. 6

Allan Ramsaur says he vividly remembers his first staff meeting as executive director of the TBA on March 18, 1998, when then-TBA Executive Director Emeritus Gil Campbell introduced him to the staff, then left the room. I remember it well, too. I had been at the TBA 11 years at that point. It was a fresh new day and everyone was very excited, considering the possibilities. And perhaps because Allan and I had known each other as parents to 2-year-olds at the same daycare, I was glad to see him.

Allan Ramsaur in his TBA?office. I appreciated Allan for several reasons:

  1. He had a passion for our members. The biggest thing he stressed was to put members first, always. The watchword was services — about everything he asked if what we were doing served the member best. We had provided services before, but he questioned WHY we were doing the things we were doing (answer always should be: for the members), and that made a difference to us. Oh, lightbulb.
  2. He challenged why we did stuff the way we had always done it, asking “What if we tried it this way …” for everything.
  3. We could all call him by his first name. This was different and made me feel like an absolute renegade because everyone, except our associate executive director, called the former executive director, “Mr. Campbell.” (Remember, it was a long time ago.)
  4. He listened and was open to new ideas. He also had many of his own. In fact, he completely freaked me out by suggesting like a crazy person that the Tennessee Bar Journal, which was every other month at the time, go to 12 issues a year. I wondered (along with Editorial Board member Don Paine) what we would we even fill it with. After I was no longer hyperventilating, I was game, and within Allan’s first year we began publishing monthly, as we still do today.

TBAToday was another wild pipe dream he had — what if, he suggested, with all the new technology, we communicated with our members every single day? What if we packaged it with the day’s court opinions and sent it via email? It was nuts! Our weekly LeaderFax evolved into Leaderflash, which melded into OpinionFlash, which eventually became TBAToday — the most useful and relied-upon member service the TBA has, according to recent surveys.

As an example of the growth we have experienced during Allan’s tenure, as the director of communications at that time, I had been the liaison for our Sections (12 of them then; we now have 33), the Young Lawyers Division, Tennessee Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (the precursor to the court’s Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program), and was responsible for all publications. None of these were electronic at the time of course, and it was a simpler, slower time.

But now, the TBA has one or more staff members doing each of these jobs (and many others). That’s to say, we have grown, expanded services, and risen to the needs of the lawyers in the state. Each of those areas is bigger, better and does more for the members than they did 20 years ago. I credit Allan Ramsaur and the TBA’s dedicated, crackerjack staff with this.

— Suzanne Craig Robertson