June 01, 2014

The Chance to Make a Difference

Friends, our Division is everyone’s job. Only a few years ago, then-Division Chair-Elect Harry Hathaway, my friend from our Young Lawyer Section days, called to ask me to chair the Division Ethics Committee. I told him I was not even a member. That can be remedied, he said. From that moment to this, in this Division I have made some of the best friends I have in the organized bar, that is, in the ABA, New York State Bar Association, and New York City Bar. That, and the chance to do something worthwhile, to “make a difference,” is what makes this work both worthwhile and so much fun.

Looking back, the year has seen some useful accomplishments. First, with thanks to John Clark, who identified the problem, we’ve corrected the Membership Department’s suppression of information about the 50 percent dues discount available to all members 75 years and older who have been ABA members for 25 years. This has cost the Division dearly in dropped members whom I believe we would have retained had they known about the discount. We are now going about bringing many of those members back.

Second, past Division Chair Leigh Middleditch is leading an initiative to address issues relating to the competency and licensing of older drivers. Leigh is in the process of forming a joint task force with members of the American Neurology Association. We want to involve all SLD members who wish to participate in this effort, which we hope will ultimately result in a Division resolution in the House of Delegates and in a proposed uniform state law by the Uniform Law Commission.

See again the last word of my first paragraph: “fun”! This stuff ought to be fun, and fun was what those of us who spent a few days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had in early June. As I had hoped, we had a good number of “newbies,” SLD members who had never attended a meeting. Of course they were treated to the most magnificent mountain views anywhere in the world in the fellowship of appreciative Council members. All attended the Council meeting Thursday morning, and, as I had hoped and invited them to do, they participated in our discussions on membership recruitment and retention, substantive programs, and the Division’s travel programs. Indeed, at our Thursday dinner, the wife of one new attendee told me that she had resisted her husband’s wish to attend the meeting, since it effectively meant a week away from her employment and “why would I want to spend four days with a lot of old lawyers?” She then added that both she and her husband were delighted they had come, they had never seen the Tetons before, and they were very happy to have made some new friends.

My sermon ends as it started: our success in serving our members and keeping our Division alive and an exciting place to be is everyone’s job. Both the friendships and the work are fun. We’re counting on you. See you at the Annual Meeting in Boston!