Posted by: Michelle Greenway Sellers on Sep 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: Sept-Oct 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 9

It might seem strange to quote the title of a Dr. Seuss book to begin my second column, but given the times we are living through — including the start of the school year for so many of us with children — it seemed appropriate. The story reminds us that there will be adventures, challenges, joys and yes, even pandemics in life and that no matter the ups and down, there are always new adventures ahead. It is hard to believe that only a few months ago, we could travel, go to restaurants, and freely go into our courts and on airplanes without a second thought. The twists and turns of those first few months of the pandemic tested many of us and particularly our legal systems, highlighting creative and necessary ways to provide the best services for our clients in extraordinary circumstances. We are now facing new challenges with childcare, online schools, remote court appearances and more, all without a known end in sight.  

The Dr. Seuss Memorial in Springfield, Massachusetts, displays many characters made famous by his stories. The open book recites his entire “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

 

We at the TBA understand the importance of providing stability and support to attorneys during this uncertain time when every dollar and every resource count. I have been pleased by how many of you have continued to believe in the value of your TBA membership and  the importance of participating in CLE programs and serving as leaders in an organization dedicated to the well-being of Tennessee’s legal community. Even in times of a pandemic, our commitment to being a strong and effective voice for lawyers must remain strong. 

 

In my address during the convention I outlined several areas of importance to the TBA this year in line with the strategic plan and long-range planning committee that I led for two years. That plan has been revised slightly in light of COVID-19 and its effects on our members and operations. Since we only have six editions of the Tennessee Bar Journal this year, I will take the opportunity in each of my columns to provide updates on our progress. 

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Mary Beard has been extremely busy in her first few months as Chief Diversity Officer working on proposed revisions to TBA’s Diversity Statement in the bylaws, creating a Diversity Task Force and Mission Statement and reviewing existing programs and initiatives
devoted to issues of diversity and inclusion. The members of the Diversity Task Force are listed on page 6 of this issue, along with the objectives for this distinguished group of members. The Task Force will meet quarterly and examine current TBA initiatives and make recommendations on collaborative opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion within the profession across the state. 

 

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

We are going to celebrate and acknowledge the resiliency of our members during these incredibly challenging times. We will be launching “Members in the News” weekly starting in TBA Today and on social media in September to showcase some of the important legal and service work of our Tennessee members. We will continue to spotlight members in our TBA BarBuzz and SideBar podcasts. We will also showcase bar leadership in our Tennessee Bar Journal and online TBJ Select throughout the year. If you would like recognition or know of an attorney who deserves it, please email our Executive Director at barED@tnbar.org. 

VIRTUAL TOWN HALLS

Instead of our annual in-person court square series, we will host one-hour TBA Townhall/Q&A Events across our eight districts in Tennessee. We are working to schedule these town halls, with local panelists discussing issues of importance to members in those districts. I originally planned to travel across the state, but I am still committed to meeting as many of you as I can and addressing your needs and concerns. 

 My 20-year journey in this bar association has been so meaningful and provided an opportunity for me to appreciate the important work we can do together. My journey this particular year will take me virtually across the state and hopefully in person to many of you very soon. While it is not the year any of us expected, it is nonetheless a chance to learn and grow together in order to build a stronger bar and community. Thank you for you taking this journey with me. 


MICHELLE GREENWAY SELLERS is a partner in the Jackson office of Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell PLC. You can reach her at MSellers@RaineyKizer.com.