December 1, 2010

From the Top: A Season of Change

By T. Maxfield Bahner

As there are turns in the seasons of the year and in the seasons of life, we are in a turning point in the history of the Senior Lawyers Division, and it is exciting. At a meeting of the Executive Committee in Chattanooga, Tenn., on November 6 and 7, 2009, we spent several hours working with the associate executive director of the ABA to more carefully define the Division brand and the direction we together wish to take in the Division.

When I was learning to fly, my instructor talked with me many times about the importance of midcourse corrections. In the light planes I was flying, the subtle effects of wind, which I could not see, could gradually take me off course if I did not pay attention to the compass. And so it is with any organization.

During the meeting of the Executive Committee, we engaged in spirited conversation, which was fun. Following our work in the Executive Committee, we sent a draft to members of the Council who have continued the discussion. This work will continue, and we look forward to sharing it with all of the Division. Our Division is, happily, unique.

No other entity within the American Bar Association is like the Senior Lawyers Division. The Senior Lawyers Division focuses on the unique interests of and issues faced by lawyers aged fifty-five and older, and lawyers of any age interested in elder law. The range of interests and concerns of our members span a wide and varied landscape.

For example, I am seventy-six and still very active. Not only do I practice law, but I am also quite involved in things that interest me, including chairing the Task Force to consider revisions in Tennessee’s Rules of Judicial Conduct. I look forward to the excitement of the law office, as each day provides new challenges. Looking back, I see that I have been in a process of transition for several years without being particularly conscious of the fact. There have been changes in emphasis in what I do every day. No longer do I regularly go to court, although I still do go to court and enjoy the conflict necessary to resolve issues. I also serve as an arbitrator and as a mediator, and, I hope, a counselor to the younger lawyers in our firm. Our Division is interested in what you are doing and what your experience is.

I wish all of you could have known Jack Driscoll, chair-elect of the Division, as many of us did. He was enthusiastically engaged in our November discussions. To our great sorrow, less than two weeks later, while attending a Harvard football game—and football was a game he loved, having coached the Harvard freshmen when he was in law school—Jack was stricken with and died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Sunday, November 15, 2009. We were looking forward to Jack’s leadership and will miss him keenly.

Because our Division is filled with strong people, we are fortunate that the person who in the normal progression would have become chair-elect in August, Judge Ruth Kleinfeld, is now, under our Division bylaws, chair-elect, and will become our chair in August 2010. She will be a great leader of our Division. 

There are several programs on the market that make the computation easier. However, the key is your feeling about the stock market, income tax rates, and what you can afford. Do not overlook the financial status of your beneficiaries. 

One characteristic of organizations such as the Senior Lawyers Division is that few of those who are members take an active role. Because of the wide range of interests and experiences of the members of our Division, we would like to have more input from you about how the Division can respond more effectively to serve the range of interests of our members. Please contact me at mbahner@cbslaw or 423/756-3000.