Volume 19, Number 1
January/February 2002

The Chair's Corner

Give the Time You Can

By George R. Ripplinger

Lately, the old song "Time in a Bottle" keeps running through my head. What lawyer would not like to buy a few bottles of time to keep around? We'd probably be the biggest customers for that product. Time is perhaps the most valuable commodity, and there never seems to be enough of it.

Time is the subject of the most common question from colleagues in our profession when discussing my involvement with the organized bar: this Section and my state bars and local bars. "How do you find the time?" they ask.

Well, you don't find the time. Time is, unfortunately, a constant. Those of us who are active in our bar associations use time we would ordinarily use for something else. We try not to shortchange our families. Sometimes we make the time do double duty. I frequently bring part or all of my family with me to out-of-town meetings.

My granddaughter had the time of her life at a bar meeting in Orlando. My wife enjoys bar meetings so long as the weather isn't too cold. I don't think she's thawed out yet from a February meeting in Boston. She probably won't be with me in Philadelphia this February, but she sure enjoyed Santa Barbara last October.

Sometimes we have to let our bar duties take a back seat. Trial dates, appellate due dates, and, of course, the needs of our clients have to come first. I owe an apology to GPSolo's editors for late submission of this column.

So, where does it come from? We make a little less money by using time that could be billed. Why? Lots of reasons. There's a "little bit" of ego in it. I can't deny that. Lawyers do have an interest in massaging that part of us. The people I've been privileged to meet and now call my friends would be reason enough.

But perhaps most importantly, most of us who do this work believe that we owe this great profession a little payback for the lifestyle and societal honor we have received as a result of being lawyers. It has been an opportunity to participate in some of the great debates about the future of our profession and have some meaningful input into the decisions. Ethics 2000, multijurisdictional practice, and multidisciplinary practice are just some of the most recent issues I have been privileged to debate and occasionally cast a vote on.

Our association has also been in the forefront in reacting to and helping all concerned in our most recent tragedy of September 11. We have sent volunteer lawyers to aid victim's families. We have come to the aid of the National Guard and Reserve military who have been called up in this new war. We are also keeping a close watch and directly participating in the debate surrounding the new legislation introduced in reaction to those tragic events, to be sure that our citizens' rights are not diluted.

So, how do I find the time? How could I not? How can you not? Become active in your bar association of choice. Give the time you can. It is one of the best ways you can contribute to your community. Give it a chance. I think you'll find the time and be happy you did.

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