To the Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel :
My tenure in NYCLA's leadership ranks is drawing to a close. During the past two years, as President of one of the preeminent county bar associations in the nation, I have valued the privilege of writing this message. I have sought to strike a note that is consistent with NYCLA's great traditions and mission, striving to address issues that speak to the preservation of liberty, the elevation of standards of integrity and ethics in the profession and the expansion of access to justice.
I have given much thought to what I should tackle in this, my final message. How best to put a final punctuation mark on the core principles that have guided my term? I concluded that it is now time to address a recurrent question: 'Why get involved in the work of a bar association?' The answer embraces all the myriad issues that I have discussed in these pages: a lawyer's involvement in the organized bar matters. It matters to the individual.It matters to the profession. Most importantly, it matters to society.
For the individual, a bar association affords the opportunity to transcend the limits of one's position, to interact with others from every spectrum of the profession, including bench, bar and academia. It is a forum that promotes the exchange of insight and experience. It is a place that generates innovation and reform. It is an incubator of ideas enabling the law to adapt to an evolving society.
During my nearly three decades as a lawyer, I have met many colleagues who have grown weary of practice, frustrated with perceived deficiencies in the legal process and disconnected from the profession. But I have never discerned this dissatisfaction in lawyers who participate in the work of the organized bar. Rather, these lawyers evince enthusiasm and energy. Yes, they are keenly aware of the challenges and deficiencies of our profession, but they confront these challenges - individually or collectively - through the work of the bar, as they seek and often achieve meaningful reform. Indeed, in virtually every aspect of our legal system, fundamental change in American law either begins or, in some way, is shaped by the work of the organized bar. The opportunity to participate in this process is the hallmark of the profession; the willingness to do so is the hallmark of professionalism.
So, if you have not already done so, consider getting involved in a bar association. Don't simply join. Participate in some project. Naturally, I hope your involvement will be at the New York County Lawyers' Association - the great democratic bar association that has been guiding reform and opening doors of opportunity for 98 years. But whatever your bar association of choice, get involved. Every lawyer has something to offer. Every lawyer can make a difference.
One lawyer that I know will make a difference is Edwin David (Dave) Robertson, a brilliant litigator at the venerable firm of Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. On May 25, he will become NYCLA's 54th President. I wish him well and l look forward to the ideas that he will share on this page.