Posted by: Michelle Greenway Sellers on May 1, 2021

Journal Issue Date: May-June 2021

Journal Name: Vol. 57 No. 3

 

What a year! I never thought I’d be the first, and hopefully only, TBA president to be sworn in virtually during a global pandemic. Thank you to Justice Roger Page for making my swearing-in ceremony so memorable in June 2020.

Since the first virtual TBA Convention, where we saw record attendance, we have experienced many virtual meetings, the first virtual bar exam, virtual swearing-in ceremonies, and the first virtual TBA YLD Mock Trial Competition. We have worked from home, worn more masks than we can count, and continuously adapted to our ever-changing environment.    

Despite the challenges faced this year — including the TBA staff working from home — the TBA successfully pivoted from in-person education programs to entirely virtual CLE while increasing the number of roundtables and forums, and creatively finding ways to support the variety of practice groups in our profession. We also launched pandemic@tnbar.org for attorneys to communicate concerns related to the pandemic and their practices.   

Throughout the year, we worked with the judicial, executive and legislative branches on issues such as the expiration of the governor’s orders, legislation and important Supreme Court rules affecting attorneys across the state. We worked closely with members of the legislature to amend several bills that would drastically impact the practice of law. We also successfully defended the Rule of Law by strongly opposing a resolution that would have removed a judge from office for a court ruling.

We celebrated Black History Month and Women’s History Month with articles, member spotlights, and a wonderful tribute to the women who have served and will serve as president of the TBA. Thanks to all who participated.

I appointed a Diversity Task Force comprised of diverse attorneys from across the state who met over the course of the year and concluded with solid recommendations to the Board of Governors on increasing diversity within the TBA and the legal community. Thank you to our Chief Diversity Officer Mary Beard and the entire Diversity Task Force for your incredible work this year.

This year we launched a new practice management center providing critical tools for members who are opening, managing or winding down a firm. This unique program allows members to get expert advice directly via email or 30-minute consultations for free. (See page 17 for more details.) We hope that you will take advantage of this benefit.

We highlighted members from across the state through a Member Spotlight series. The series shows the fantastic work that lawyers do daily in public and private capacities. We also held a town hall meeting in Jackson with judges and attorneys discussing how everyone was continuing to adapt in light of the pandemic.   

The good news is that we are moving toward in-person activities, and those who want to be vaccinated now have that opportunity. We are planning our first hybrid TBA Convention in Memphis in June. The Convention will feature virtual and live events to maximize opportunities for member participation across the state. The multi-day event will feature CLEs, leadership meetings and joint events with the Tennessee Judicial Conference. At the Lawyer’s Luncheon on Friday, June 18, it will be my honor to pass the gavel to your 141st TBA president, Sherie Edwards.

We look forward to seeing everyone! Please visit our website for more information about Convention.

Thank you for your support this year! It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to serve as your TBA president.

MICHELLE GREENWAY SELLERS is a partner in the Jackson office of Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell PLC and a Rule 31 Listed General Civil/Family Mediator. You can reach her at MSellers@RaineyKizer.com.