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December 20, 2023 VIEW FROM THE CHAIR

TIPS, the Next Generation

Loren D. Podwill

On behalf of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), its officers, Council, committee chairs and vice-chairs, sponsors, and dedicated staff, welcome to the 2023–2024 American Bar Association year. Congratulations to Gary Gassman, our outgoing Chair, for your calm and dedicated leadership as we’ve transitioned from a COVID-caused remote environment back to in-person programming and meetings. Your successful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and social justice initiatives, which were the cornerstone of your agenda as Chair, resulted in positive and impactful changes for TIPS and its members.

Also, a big thank you to TIPS Director Theresa Livingston, Program Director Janet Hummons, and the entire staff for another successful year. While the “new normal” remains a work in progress, your ability to pivot no matter the circumstances allowed the Section to focus on its mission and goals to serve our members and the public.

The theme for my year is “TIPS, the Next Generation.” For you Star Trek fans, you’re familiar with this reference. But what does it mean in terms of our goals and plans for the coming year? First, let’s discuss the legal industry in general and then how the needs and expectations of TIPS members have changed and will continue to change as the legal industry changes. I will then discuss what TIPS is doing to be proactive in the face of these changes.

I believe the legal industry has gone from the practice of law to the practice of law and the business of law. To be successful, it is no longer enough to provide excellent legal representation. Law practices and law firms have to be run efficiently and effectively, whether a solo practice or a firm of hundreds of lawyers. Clients demand and expect top-notch legal representation. That’s a given. But with downward rate pressures, increased salary demands, reduced billable hours, hybrid work environments, and substantial increases in the cost of doing business, how law firms are managed is critical to their success, longevity, and sometimes even survival.

The retirement of many baby boomers and early retirements during and following the COVID pandemic have added another significant factor to the equation in terms of succession planning, training of newer lawyers, and client retention. Additionally, the expectations of newer lawyers have changed over time. No longer is it the goal of many newer lawyers to do whatever is necessary to eventually become a partner or owner in their law firm. Also, the industry is transitory, with many lawyers, newer and more experienced, regularly changing firms. Life-work balance has become increasingly more important to many, and less-than-full-time lawyer positions are becoming more common.

The theme for the year, “TIPS, the Next Generation,” emphasizes the importance of preparing for the future. We want to focus on helping the Section meet the goals and needs of our members while also welcoming new members into the fold. Senior leaders have served for years, even decades, and we need to pass on our institutional knowledge to the next generation of leaders.

Much like at a law firm, transition and succession planning are key elements in the success of evolving organizations like ours. In the coming year, we will harness the expertise of prior TIPS chairs by inviting them to serve as special liaisons to the 32 TIPS general committees. Their wealth of knowledge and experience will serve as a valuable resource for our newer leaders, offering guidance and insight as needed. The goal is not for them to carry the water but rather to be a support system, keeping experienced individuals engaged while providing resources to the next generation who will continue the great work of TIPS.

One of the initiatives I am particularly excited about is the establishment of the Wellness Task Force. We recognize that the legal industry can be demanding mentally, physically, and socially, and we want to provide the necessary resources to maintain our members’ health and well-being. This task force will work to understand the challenges our members face in achieving this balance. By promoting well-being and creating a supportive environment, we can enhance the overall health and happiness of our members, enabling them to thrive both personally and professionally.

Our Law Practice Management Task Force, with assistance from our Section sponsors, including Thomson Reuters, will continue to provide webinars and other programming addressing the various aspects of the practice of law and the intersection with the business of law.

Our TIPS officers are busy working on an updated Section strategic plan that focuses on:

  1. Who we are
  2. How we lead
  3. What we do
  4. How we grow
  5. Stewarding our resources

We are committed to being proactive and not just reactive to change.

Those who know me know that I have had a lifelong passion for public service and have been a member of the TIPS Law in Public Service Committee (LIPS) throughout my decades of involvement in TIPS leadership. The Section will continue to support LIPS and the important work it is doing, including the Financial Literacy Project, which is an ongoing project designed to increase financial literacy specifically for underserved communities and youth populations across America.

Personally, my involvement in TIPS has been a transformative experience. It has provided me with numerous speaking and writing opportunities, allowing me to connect with lawyers and clients from all corners of the country. Through these interactions, I have developed lifelong friendships and business connections that have had a profound impact on my career. I have also had the opportunity to participate in projects that support communities outside of the legal field. One example is the Financial Literacy Project. Another is the amazing work of our Animal Law Committee, including projects they sponsor at many of our in-person meetings that I have had the privilege of attending and volunteering at. Our goal is to provide similar opportunities to the next generation of TIPS members in a way that best suits their needs and desires.

We look forward to a year filled with exciting and informative meetings.

  • January 24–26, 2024, Fidelity & Surety Law Midwinter Conference, The Roosevelt New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
  • February 1, 2024, Business Litigation Conference, Louisville, KY
  • February 2–4, 2024, ABA Midyear Meeting, Louisville, KY
  • February 22–24, 2024, Insurance Coverage Litigation Conference, Estancia La Jolla Hotel, La Jolla, CA
  • February 23–24, 2024, Life, Health & Disability Conference, Estancia La Jolla Hotel, La Jolla, CA
  • March 2024, Cybersecurity Conference, Location TBD
  • April 10–12, 2024, Motor Vehicle Product Liability Conference, Omni Scottsdale Montelucia, Scottsdale, AZ
  • April 11–13, 2024, Toxic Torts & Environmental Law Conference, Omni Scottsdale Montelucia, Scottsdale, AZ
  • May 1–4, 2024, TIPS Section Conference, Loews Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood, CA
  • May 22–24, 2024, Fidelity & Surety Law Spring Conference, Estancia La Jolla Hotel, La Jolla, CA
  • August 2–4, 2024, ABA Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL

As I assume the role of Chair, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Together, we will navigate the ever-changing legal landscape and ensure that TIPS remains at the forefront of shaping the future of our profession. I look forward to working closely with all members, fostering collaboration, and creating a supportive environment that inspires the next generation of leaders.

Thank you for the trust you have placed in me, and I am committed to serving TIPS and its members to the best of my abilities. Let’s embrace this new era of TIPS, the Next Generation and make a lasting impact on the legal community and the lives of those we serve.

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Chair, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section