This message will close my tenure as chair of TIPS and cap more than 30 years of leadership and membership in the organization. This experience gives me an opportunity to reflect, and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you.
Leadership. During my three years as an officer in the organization, we completely revamped our strategic plan and have done much to execute the fundamentals in that planning document. Although I led that process, there is no singular success. Because the chair changes every year, continuity of leadership is important, and I am proud to say that the line of chairs most instrumental before me—Mike Drumke, Sam Poteet, and Holly Polglase—were all in on the plan, and the chairs who will follow—Thea Capone, John McMeekin, and Gary Gassman—are equally committed to the course we have charted for the organization. Likewise, our other officers and the chairs and chairs-elect of TIPS’s general and standing committees and task forces have done excellent work over the last few years. Their work has contributed significantly to the success we all enjoy.
Meetings. One of the benefits of being TIPS’s chair is the opportunity to go to our substantive meetings around the country. These events include the four Section meetings as well as the stand-alone meetings conducted by our general committees. Aviation Litigation and Space Law, Fidelity and Surety, Commercial Transportation, Admiralty and Maritime Law, Insurance Coverage Litigation, Motor Vehicle Product Liability, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law, the Insurance Claims Institute, and the Trial Academy stand out as the best evidence of TIPS’s excellence in programming. These are cutting-edge programs that lead the field in their particular areas. The Fall Leadership Meeting (Amelia Island) and the Fifth Annual Section Conference (New York City) were huge successes for the organization, the latter in large measure attributed to the leadership of our Section Conference Chairs La Watters, Grant Law, and Barbara Costello. The next Fall Leadership Meeting in Maui (October 17–20) and the Section Conference in Nashville (April 29–May 3, 2020) need to be on your calendars as must-attend meetings.
Raising the Bar. This has been the theme for my year as chair and has essentially been a challenge to all TIPS committees to up the ante in everything we do: programming, speaking opportunities, publishing, networking, and creating member value. I am proud to say that we have met this goal in virtually everything we have done as an organization this year, including with our newest full-fledged committees: the Women’s Trial Lawyers Committee, Cannabis Law and Policy Committee, and Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee. Our Section Conference focus on corporate counsel, insurance, trial and litigation practice, and emerging issues is yet another example of our focus on subjects of value to members.
Subject Matter Expertise. Over nearly 40 years in practice, I have had a chance to compare the substantive legal education offerings and the expertise of members of many different organizations. I would match and raise TIPS against any organization that focuses on our Section’s legal practice areas. Our demonstrated leadership in delivering substantial value to members is a testament to TIPS and our 33 substantive committees.
Diversity and Inclusion. When I compare the demographic of the organization today with that of 10 years ago, we have come a long way toward reflecting the diversity of the population in our profession. Our Council members are more varied than ever, and our committee leadership has become increasingly more diverse. While we are certainly more diverse than any other organization of our kind, there is always room to improve. Our concentration on diversity has continued to keep the discussion and action in this regard front and center. Something that cannot be underestimated is our incomparable focus on inclusion at all levels of the organization. I am equally proud of our ongoing focus on bringing young lawyers to the table. For example, the TIPS Leadership Academy was created to introduce younger lawyers to future opportunities in the organization. Our ongoing collaboration with the Young Lawyers Division has led to more cross-pollination and the joint YLD-TIPS Spring Meeting in Nashville in 2020.
TIPS Staff. We owe much to our staff in Chicago. I want to single out Theresa Livingston and Janet Hummons but certainly not diminish the hard work of Jennifer Michel, Carlos Vivanco, Theresa Beckom, Norma Campos, Chris Steward, Juel Jones, Danielle Daly, and Jeane Emily DuBose. Some staff members have been with the Section for a long time, and others joined more recently, but all have committed themselves to our success as an organization. The 2018–2019 bar year brought challenges; some were anticipated and many were unforeseen. Staff endured and overcame those challenges with patience, grace, and success. I and we are in their debt.
Section Sponsors. Thomson Reuters, Robson Forensic, MDD Forensic Accountants, and Atlas Legal Research are TIPS’s main sponsors, but they are also our partners and friends. Their financial and resource support helps us provide value to our members, and for that I extend my personal thanks and that of our organization.
Family. For all of us, the importance of family cannot be overstated. I am no exception—whether it has been my TIPS family; my professional family at Porzio, Bromberg & Newman; or my family at home, all were an integral part of our Section’s achievements this year. Without them individually or together, I could not have chaired this organization or been engaged in what will be the seven years required to advance to leadership of the organization. They all have my sincere and heartfelt thanks.
The Future. TIPS is an active, thriving, value-driven organization that is or should be a key component in the development of lawyers in all age groups. Those who are active members are already enjoying the benefits. If you are not an active member, then you should be. Call or email any of us, and we will get you involved. While I intend to be around for a while, I know that TIPS will be in good hands for the foreseeable future with all of you.