January 31, 2019 View from the Chair

It All Matters

By Roy Alan Cohen

For those who know me, personal reflection is part of my personality. As I enter the 40th year of law practice, 30th year as an active TIPS member, and second trimester of my year as Section chair, my thoughts turn both inward and outward. The result is a statement of four truisms that intertwine what is going on around us with TIPS, our profession, and our society.

Lawyers matter. A negative dissertation against lawyers often refers to one of Shakespeare’s most misinterpreted lines. The actual statement from Henry VI, part 2, act IV, scene 2, is “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” What Shakespeare really meant was a compliment to those lawyers and judges who breathe justice and the rule of law into society. That rule of law is what provides people with structure, predictability, fairness, and protection. On the night I started writing this message, our power went out and, with the darkness, life came to a stop. The rule of law is just as much an essential building block of civilization as electric power. There is a reason why lawyers comprise 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, and 50 percent of the Senate and 39 percent of the members of the House of Representatives of the 115th Congress self-identify as lawyers. Lawyers generally and TIPS lawyers specifically have been and remain on the front lines of justice, ably representing our constituent groups. This work matters, and TIPS is committed to be the organization that provides a platform for civil discourse for all groups. There was no better example of that level of exchange than the TIPS Aviation and Space Law Committee’s Fall Conference in Washington, D.C., in October.

Diversity and inclusion matter. There is an important reason why these two words belong in the same thought, whether it be in the world at large or in TIPS. It is sad but true that the politics of exclusion and hate continues to appeal to a certain part of the population. The annals of history show us that it is easy to garner support from one segment of the population by demonizing and blaming another group for economic woes, political problems, or nothing other than that those targeted are defenseless. At one time or another, each of us came from a disfavored or new group coming to America. My grandfather left his family’s farm outside Kiev at age 13 and made his way alone to Philadelphia a year later. He raised a family and sent my father to college—the first member of our clan to attend. This provided opportunities for me and my children that never would have been available where he was born. With that said, in my lifetime, I have experienced persecution based on religion; sadly, this kind of evil manifested itself in violence in a Pittsburgh synagogue a short time ago. Our times are turbulent, but then every decade we can remember has had its own measure of discord. The underlying message here is that all lives matter. Black and Jewish people should not be killed in their place of worship. Children and teachers should not die in school to make a statement. Stirring up hatred against Hispanic people because they happen to be immigrants is wrong-minded and simply should not be an acceptable part of the fabric of our world. We at TIPS stand together against these kinds of injustice, and it is important to speak the words of resistance and support out loud.

TIPS as an organization matters. Over the last few years and continuing this year, TIPS has changed organizationally to meet current demands and fulfill the Section’s long-range strategic plan. We continue our branding and messaging initiative; our focus on thought leadership and emerging issues; our emphasis on core strengths in the tort, trial, and insurance fields; and the building of and enhancements to our premier stand-alone programs and publications. Our membership not only has stabilized but also is on the increase in the important lawyer category. The outreach to young lawyers continues, with a first-time attendee mentorship program set for the 2019 Section Conference, the appointment of young lawyer and Young Lawyer Division (YLD) representatives to many of our substantive committees, and a commitment between TIPS and the YLD to hold our Section Conference and their Spring Meeting jointly in Nashville from April 29 to May 3, 2020. The young lawyer presence at the Section Conference in New York City this coming year also will be substantial. For the first time in many years, we made good choices that brought us to a balanced budget, ensuring financial stability for the organization in the years to come. Finally, TIPS has recommitted to its role as a national voice for the advancement of professionalism, civility, and pro bono and public service.

You matter. Providing member value to Section members through our 30 substantive law committees is the top priority. We also have constituent groups dealing with issues of specific interest to corporate counsel, staff counsel, solo and small-firm lawyers, self-insurers, risk managers, plaintiffs practitioners, and women trial lawyers. Our Section-wide and stand-alone committee programs all have significant networking components, with our Section Conference in New York City on May 1–4, 2019, promising to have more than 50 corporate counsel and insurance claims professionals on program panels. Our substantive committees remain focused on networking opportunities, and the available leadership, speaking, and publishing opportunities within the Section remain unprecedented.

If there was ever a time for you to be engaged in TIPS, then that time is now.

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By Roy Alan Cohen