April 25, 2019

Taking Care of Business—Why Involvement in a TIPS General Committee Matters

G. Glennon Troublefield

Active involvement in one of TIPS’s 30 substantive/practice area-specific general committees provides myriad benefits, from networking with experts across the profession to leadership development and opportunities to write, speak, and advocate for causes and issues.

Teamwork and leadership in an organization, similar to TIPS, often yields incredible results. The chronicles of our nation’s storied past are filled with passages written about diverse individuals, from different walks of life, pursuing shared goals as part of a team. Each team member’s efforts are committed to benefit the good of the team ahead of his or her aspirations of individual achievement. We universally admire expressions of solid teamwork and scoff at the team member who accumulates personal stats to the detriment of the team.

As chair of the Section, I have considered that one of the hallmarks of great teamwork within a Section with over 20,000 members is becoming active in one of TIPS’s 30 substantive/practice area–specific general committees. Active general committee members have access to leaders and trailblazers of the tort, trial, and insurance practice fields. They become part of a team that helps the Section formulate its yearly member benefits. Because I believe so strongly about the great work of our general committees, I want to give you a taste of the intangible benefits of general committee involvement.

Charting a Pathway of Success

It took me less than two months as Section chair to reaffirm the unmatched significance of TIPS’s general committees, which are unequivocally the lifeblood of TIPS. They are also the heart and soul of our Section, from which the pulse of our bar association is generated. When the general committees thrive, so does our Section. Our leadership gets a pep in their step, looks for ways to improve, and renews the Section’s commitment to lead. Even now as I think about it, the images and sounds of general committee members gathering for a meeting under the watchful guidance of their leadership are among my most vivid TIPS memories. General committee leaders, which include the chairs, chair-elects, and vice chairs, work tirelessly to deliver the best member benefits TIPS offers. Individual leaders overcome ideological pessimism with renewed commitments to achieve success for TIPS. As Winston Churchill quipped, “difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” That is certainly the mantra of our TIPS general committees.

It Is Time to Get Involved

If you have ever thought about attending a TIPS leadership meeting or becoming active in a general committee, but have not done so, don’t delay. Every TIPS member should have a connection with and attend at least one general committee meeting. Connection with a general committee solidifies the foundation of membership in TIPS. That is not a critique of other entities within the ABA, but rather praise for the benefit of general committee involvement. A significant attribute of committee involvement is working with a committee’s leadership to formulate yearly goals for the committee. For instance, national CLE programs and publications emerge from general committee business meetings. The programs themselves are successful due in large part to the efforts of general committee leaders working in tandem with TIPS staff members. By working on a national program, members of a general committee gain access to some of the leading trial attorneys, insurance experts, and litigation managers in the industry. The value of that access is immeasurable.

Active membership in TIPS also opens the door to opportunities to lobby or advocate for a particular cause or issue. There are countless stories of TIPS members using their voices to guide the Section’s position on proposed ABA policies, federal legislative initiatives, or the ABA’s official position on issues important to the profession, such as preserving the civil jury system or the attorney-client privilege. I believe TIPS’s greatest contributions can be traced to the critical work undertaken by members of the Section’s general committees. Whether or not you are representing individual clients or business entities, the value of your active participation in a general committee gives you the ability to lobby and affect significant changes to the practice of law. That is precisely why clients and law firms have traditionally supported the decisions of TIPS members to become active in a general committee. Thus, if you are on the sideline thinking about getting active or attending a committee business meeting, it is time to take the step and do it—you will not be disappointed.

Networking at Its Best

My experiences with TIPS’s general committees comprise one story of why general committee involvement matters. Some time ago, before becoming chair of the Section, I attended a Fidelity and Surety Law Committee (FSCL) midwinter meeting in New York and, shortly thereafter, an Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee (ICLC) midyear meeting (ICLC) in Phoenix. I arrived at each meeting as a first-time attendee, like other members do each year. The moment I walked through the doors of the hotel and headed to the registration desk, I was struck by the professionalism and collegiality of the entire committee leadership in attendance. That atmosphere was generated by all committee members who worked on the program. For me, the value of the program involved much more than just listening to the presentations; rather, I had an opportunity to meet and learn about other committee members, listen to “war” stories that sounded fresh, and develop a deeper appreciation of the nuances of practicing law in an environment that fosters professional development. I was no longer an isolated voice of the bar. I became part of a network of industry leaders who address changes to laws that impact my practice and the clients I serve.

The comradery that I experienced attending the FSLC and ICLC meetings is repeated throughout the general committee programs that populate the TIPS CLE calendar. Recently, I traveled to our nation’s capital for the Aviation and Space Law Committee’s national program in Washington, D.C. The program echoed the positive experiences I felt attending other general committee programs. I felt right at home with other TIPS members in attendance, learned about cutting-edge technology in the aviation industry (such as 3D printing), and developed connections with members of the committee who I had never met. Aviation’s leadership, hospitality, and the committee’s program were par excellence.

At Your Finger “TIPS”

So, before you turn to the next page of TheBrief, let me say this: Vince Lombardi once said that “the achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” That is certainly true of TIPS. Much of the success of TIPS rides on the shoulders of individual members who are actively working within TIPS’s general committees. They embrace the importance of teamwork, the benefits of consensus building, and the significance of advocating passionately for issues affecting their industry.

If you are a local TIPS member who has never attended a committee business meeting, give me a call, and let’s talk about it. I encourage you to try out a general committee. The leadership of TIPS is special for a reason, and everyone has the opportunity to be part of it. For those who are already active in a TIPS general committee, let me say “thank you” for giving TIPS your very best—your commitment to lead is a model for all to follow. n

G. Glennon Troublefield