November 30, 2018 View from the Chair

Raising the Bar

By Roy Alan Cohen

As TIPS chair, I welcome the opportunity to introduce this first issue of The Brief, our flagship publication, for the 2018–2019 bar year.

In preparing this message, I have had an opportunity to reflect on what makes TIPS the organization that drew me in many years ago and continues to do so today. All those important factors can be found in four areas: culture, relevance, opportunity, and excellence. These attributes also factor into the TIPS theme for this year, “Raising the Bar,” which is the formal culmination of an initiative that began three years ago and is being carried forward and expanded upon this year. This prime directive requires that we raise the level of achievement for the organization while also providing our members with the opportunity to raise their own personal bar. To me, that is the benefit TIPS brings or should provide each of you: an opportunity to develop expertise and experience to add to your resume; be part of the national conversation on issues relevant to your practice; be in on emerging practice areas and the discussion of developing positions with all constituent groups at the table; plan our acclaimed national programs in your practice area; publish in one or more of our industry-leading publications; and lead the effort to advance diversity, inclusion, ethics, professionalism, and public service in the legal field.

Years ago, there was a general counsel who would receive good news of a successful trial result or case resolution with the same endearing quip, “Great result, Roy, but that was yesterday! What have you done for me today?” While he was only partly joking, that message remains a constant reminder that we need to earn our stripes every day, whether through communications or action, continuing to show how TIPS delivers value above and beyond the competition and beyond what we have experienced in the past.

At the same time, the look and feel of TIPS as well as the way we do business is changing, all to be more responsive to the various needs of our constituent groups and the generational differences in our members. Whether it be the new TIPS logo, the redesign of our publications, the modernized TIPS website, our growing Section Conference, or our messaging, I am confident that many of the changes you see and experience in TIPS will excite and motivate you.

Culture. The TIPS culture was one of the things that attracted me most to the organization. It is inviting, welcoming, and far more inclusive than the competition. We are well past the old boys’ network kind of organization, delivering on the promise of being an organization that reflects the population, both in terms of membership and leadership. Ethnically, culturally, and generationally diverse, TIPS looks for and promotes members who are interested in simultaneously contributing to the success of the organization and advancing their careers. For example, in recognition of the importance of creating a welcoming environment, TIPS will now assign a host for each first-time attendee at a TIPS meeting who will serve as a senior adviser to connect the new member with the organization and as a conduit to meaningful engagement.

Relevance. With more than 17,000 members, TIPS squarely occupies the intersection of tort, trial, and insurance practice. This is our universe. Many of our 36 substantive committees and task forces are composed of industry and practice area leaders who foster the dialogue and produce the content that is the best in the business. All TIPS groups are charged with creating a substantive agenda for new and existing members and making sure that the Section delivers on that promise. The committees and the TIPS organization demonstrate an increased focus on practice areas. As a central component of their content delivery and value-added proposition, more committees will produce their own national programs. Each group and the Section as a whole includes plaintiffs and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, insurance professionals, and everyone in between. All have a seat at the table. The opportunities to network and discuss issues under these circumstances are extraordinary— and we do throw in some fun at every meeting, too.

Opportunity and Excellence. One need look no further than our list of committees and task forces to see the tremendous number of opportunities that we have for members in every area of legal practice. Building on years of excellence and performance, our most successful committees always need new blood. The new Networking, Strategic Communications, and Law Firm and Legal Department Management Task Forces are actively engaged in making our meetings, publications, and messaging reflect the value that TIPS brings to the practice of law. Our new Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee, Women Trial Lawyers Committee, Cannabis Law and Policy Task Force, and Insurance Institute Task Force are evidence of the cutting-edge focus that TIPS brings to addressing issues of importance to the legal industry. We continue to evaluate areas for new groups, programs, and publications that address the more immediate needs of our members and potential members.

The Annual Section Conference has fast become our premier meeting. In 2019, with a New York City venue, the conference scheduled for May 1–5 will be the best yet. Two days of CLE programs will feature more than 60 company speakers and a host of networking opportunities that will be better than ever. Mark your calendar now. The Thursday evening reception at the Rainbow Room, high atop 30 Rockefeller Center, promises to be an event not to be missed.

Our slate of national programs for 2018–2019 is unmatched in substance and value, and more committees are slated to sponsor their own programs than in past years. Aviation, Fidelity and Surety, Insurance and Employee Benefits, Insurance Coverage Litigation, Transportation MegaConference, Admiralty and Maritime Law, Motor Vehicle Products Liability, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy, Cannabis Law and Policy, and Workers’ Compensation are all on the schedule. Each will offer cutting-edge panel presentations for which attendance will be as important for subject matter as for the benefit to network with leaders in these areas of practice.

Raising Your Bar. With TIPS, as in most everything else in life, you get out what you put in. Active engagement is critical to the success of your involvement in an organization. While our members want online content, there is no substitute for getting involved, being present, and networking. Joining a committee, asking for a vice-chair or leadership appointment, reading TIPS emails, participating in calls, writing an article for a newsletter, sending a case note, or coming to the Section Conference are all important to your success. Your skills, development, and practice will be changed for the better by what you learn, the people you meet, and the friends you make in TIPS. As an active TIPS member for 30 years, I can tell you that some of my best professional and personal friends have been made in this organization. It is these relationships that contributed to my success as a lawyer and created friendships that will last for life.

As TIPS elevates its game this year, raise your own bar. Contact me, and together we will find the right place in the organization for you to become active and thrive. 

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