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October 31, 2014


Amazed! Blown away! Overwhelmed! In total disbelief! There are no words or phrases to adequately express my reaction when I received Anita Miller’s e-mail telling me that I had been selected to receive the Jefferson Fordham Lifetime Achievement Award. I immediately asked for a recount due to the fact that Ben Griffith, who still awaits his payoff, had nominated me. This request was denied, and I planned to come here today and make a few perfunctory remarks until I received Erica Powers’s email asking to publish my reflections on my ABA career in the Section newsletter. I began to think about the past 38 years that I have enjoyed taking part in the activities of our wonderful Section, so I put pen to paper in an effort to dignify these proceedings to the extent possible.

Those of you who know me will agree with my comment to my friend Jim Hanks that the only Section Award I ever had any hope of receiving was the Herbie. That being the trophy named after Herb Olarsch and the Three Amigos of Tijuana (Jim Baird and Fred Leonhardt), signifying an individual who contributes the most in any given year to achieve the Section’s hallowed Goal IX—to have fun! It is indeed an honor to even be considered in the same league with Section luminaries such as Dan Curtin, Carol Dinkins, David Callies (my Section Mentor), Jim Baird, John Witt, and my deceased running mate David Cardwell (the Otis to my Bubba!). In fact, I’ve donned my official Otis ABA meeting outfit in David’s honor—blue blazer, khakis, and no socks! That having been said, I will launch into my recollections, which shall be punctuated by headings because the father of the Model Procurement Code, F. Trowbridge vom Baur, always told us to use headings in order to retain the attention and interest of your audience. He also once introduced me as “a humble man with a great deal to be humble about,” and this is indeed a humbling day.


One of the main things that I will always cherish from my experiences in our Section is the collegiality expressed by and among its members. Whenever I had a legal issue that I couldn’t resolve on my own, there was always a wealth of experience within our membership to draw upon, and I would usually have an answer in one or two phone calls. This air of collegiality was always present in our Council meetings, with the exception of heated debates between our land-use experts from academia and attorneys who represented developers. With collegiality came an incredible level of cooperation, exemplified by former and departed Chair Pat Arey’s willingness to postpone his scheduled year at the helm to allow Sholem Friedman to move up a year, during which time Pat presided over all Saturday Council meetings. No matter what our professional differences might have been, we would all come together as good barristers are wont to do at the end of the day and partake in memorable social activities devoted to our our passionate pursuit of Goal IX.

Professional Development

I attended my first Section meeting in 1976 as a member of the staff for the ABA Coordinating Committee on a Model Procurement Code. It was one of the largest ABA projects ever undertaken at that time and was sponsored jointly by our Section and the Public Contract Law Section. After that first meeting in Atlanta, I told my wife to shoot me if I ever went to another boring ABA meeting. They got better and better, however, as time went by, and I became more active in Section programs and the Code project. This Section provided four outstanding practitioners who served on the Coordinating Committee over the years—Pat Falvey, Roy Semtner, Sherwin Birnkrant, and Lou Del Duca—each contributing countless hours of pro bono service to the Section and the greater ABA. They set the bar high for volunteerism and giving back to the profession.

Participation in the Code Project introduced me to thousands of attorneys and procurement professionals around the country who served on our 12 different Code Drafting Committees, forming friendships that last to this day. It took three years to put the Code together, with a lot of late-night meetings, weekends away from home, and constant traveling in my role as the Assistant Project Director for Implementation. It’s hard to believe that in the late 70s we didn’t even have fax machines. We kept FedEx in business with all of our overnight deliveries (except for my late night hand deliveries to Mr. vom Baur’s home in Georgetown). When the Code was adopted as an official ABA policy document in 1979, Edith and I decided that it was time to return to my hometown of Louisville to raise our family and begin my law practice.

I have remained active in the ongoing Code Project over the years, serving in various positions for the ensuing revisions, updates, and annotations. Expecting to become Kentucky’s MPC expert upon our return home, I can count the number of Code cases that I have had on my fingers and toes, perhaps without removing one sock! The Code has now been adopted by some 20 states and portions of the Code have been adopted by almost all of the other states along with thousands of local jurisdictions. Indeed, Mayor Menino probably knows more about emergency procurements than any other mayor in the country, given his incredible feat of completely shutting down the entire city in pursuit of the Boston Marathon bombers—and I tip my hat to him for his courageous leadership. The MPC is truly an ABA document that has had a profound impact on local government law throughout these United States. It has impacted the lives of all of its citizens by setting forth a transparent system of procurement policies and procedures to shed sunshine on these systems. This Section can certainly be proud of its participation in the development and implementation of the MPC and succeeding documents, even though most of you went to sleep when I made my presentations on the Code at our Council meetings!

Dear Friends and Great Travels

My participation in the life of our Section has formed the basis of our family vacations for most of my childrens’ lives, and there are memorable trips that readily come to mind—Bermuda, Toronto, London, Taos, Cancun, and Ixtapa, to name a few. Some of those trips did provide a fiasco or two, like the time the buses didn’t show up after a Section dinner in Sausalito, and Jackie Baker had to commandeer every taxi in the area to get everyone back to the hotel in San Francisco! I don’t recall Tamara having any such issues on her watch. We have also shared in the joys and sorrows of your families over the years, including illnesses such as cancer that has touched so many lives. My wife will be a 28 year survivor this December, and we have shared those journeys with many of you in such far flung places as the San Antonio River Walk, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. We have watched all of our children grow in their careers and start their own families. These are memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lifetimes (and I don’t use that word lightly today). I wish we could convince all young lawyers of the personal as well as the professional satisfaction that comes from participation in ABA Sections.


It’s difficult to pack a lifetime of memories into this short recollection piece, but what I do want to stress is that the success and longevity of this Section is based primarily on its good people. We have been fortunate in attracting new members with energy, vigor, and insights into the future of the law that will keep this Section strong for many years to come. We have indeed been a major player in the greater ABA and will continue in that role as the years go by. I feel fortunate to have played a small part in that continuum over the years with a host of wonderful people. I am truly humbled by this award, and I thank all of you for your friendship, support and love in our time together.

Postscript—Before I made these remarks, I asked for everyone’s forgiveness if I appeared disoriented or stumbled through them, as we had just learned that our daughter-in-law’s contractions were twelve minutes apart back in Louisville. I am proud to report that Harbin Grant Ethridge (7 lb. 10 oz., 20 in.) was born that evening, making this truly one of the most memorable days of our lives!