TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Cynthia Wyrick on Dec 1, 2013

Journal Issue Date: Dec 2013

Journal Name: December 2013 - Vol. 49, No. 12

You know that the holiday season has officially arrived at the Wyrick house when we have had our annual viewing of the greatest Christmas movie of all time. In case you had any doubt, of course I am referring to "It's a Wonderful Life"!

No matter how many times I watch this great classic, my heart is warmed by the sacrifices that George Bailey makes for his family, friends and hometown by staying in Bedford Falls to run the building and loan instead of doing as he had dreamed by going off to see the world and attend college. I also enjoy booing the evil Mr. Potter, as he tries to ruin the building and loan, and George in the process, so that he can completely control the town. Yet, my favorite part is when George’s guardian angel, Clarence, walks George through what life would have been like in Bedford Falls if he had never been born, in an effort to show George how meaningful his life has been and the tragedy it would be for him to throw that life away. Typically, when I watch that part, I can’t help but wonder how the scenes would play out if Clarence paid me a visit; however, this year was different. During this viewing, I pondered the question of what our collective professional lives would be like if the Tennessee Bar Association had never been “born.”

I asked myself whether we ever would have used a merit selection system to select appellate court judges and fill vacancies on the trial bench. After all, the TBA has been on record as supporting merit selection for more than 40 years and was a strong voice in the initial adoption of that system. Recently, it was thought that our merit system might well be dead, but the association was able to work with Gov. Haslam’s office to obtain assurances that he would put a merit selection system into place via Executive Order if the proposed constitutional amendment is adopted.

I considered the laws harmful to our profession and the public that might have been passed without the involvement of the TBA. The TBA is uniquely positioned to speak for all of us, whether we are plaintiff or defense counsel, in-house, solo or small firm practitioners, members of large firms, or using our law degrees in an alternative setting; whether we practice in a small town or a big city; and whether we typically represent individuals or business interests. There is no other organization positioned to provide a voice in the legislature for our profession collectively.

I thought about how many of my cases might have turned out differently without TBA Today to provide me daily with the latest appellate cases. On multiple occasions, a case provided in TBA Today has had direct application to an issue that I faced in a trial the following morning. I also quickly realized that without TBA Today, I would either spend time (that I don’t have) scouring publications from across the state or be out of touch with important legal news.

I contemplated how many TBA members would be left with no ability to conduct legal research, as they use Fastcase exclusively for that reasearch. I also realized that my legal research costs would increase substantially because, while I also have a research package through another provider, it does not provide me state law cases outside of Tennessee and I use Fastcase to expand my research into those other states as needed.

I reflected on where I would find the top quality CLE on virtually every topic of interest to our profession in a single place as I do with the TBA, with three of those hours being at no cost. From excellent in-person programs, to webinars on late-breaking changes in the legal landscape that keep me on the cutting edge, to great online programs that can be taken in my pj’s in December to help me meet the CLE deadline, I count on the TBA to meet my CLE needs. I also considered my colleagues who flock to TBA headquarters at the close of each year where continual live programming is available for those short on in-person credits.

I also realized that I would likely never have met many of my dearest friends if there were no TBA. Those friendships are with attorneys from across the state and from all corners of the profession. As an added bonus, a number of these friends have also sent business my way. 

Like George Bailey, I was all too happy to stop pondering the dire consequences that would have befallen our profession had our association never been “born.” Also like George, my reflection increased my gratitude for all the ways that the TBA assists me in my practice and for what it does for our profession as a whole.

There are many who have worked together to allow the TBA to play such an important role in our professional lives and our profession. Some have simply participated in a committee meeting or presented a CLE, while others have given of their time and talents year after year in service to the association; however, the absence of any of these contributions would have been felt. The association also owes much of its success to the TBA staff, led by Executive Director Allan Ramsaur. They are the best in the country, and I am constantly inspired by their dedication. I am confident that our bar leaders and staff will continue to work tirelessly to insure that the association continues to meet our needs, and that the future of our association is as bright as our past has been, but the real key to the TBA’s past and future success is you, as an association member. We are 12,000 members strong, and if we all work together on behalf of our association and our profession, we simply cannot fail.

During this holiday season, will you commit to being a George Bailey for our association such that we could all readily grasp how much less the association would be without your participation?

I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays, and look forward to working with you in the New Year to continue to better our association and our profession. After all, “Together We Make a Difference!”

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