Only 81 days remain as State Bar president
A year goes by awfully fast when you’re working two full-time jobs. With only 81 days remaining in my term as State Bar president, I look forward to the ability to just focus on my clients and my law practice. For now, however, I find myself working late into the night to catch up on case files, juggling a very complicated schedule and returning calls from the road at odd hours and a little slowly.
I believe all the networking in the bar presidency will strengthen my work for clients after my term is finished. While no one can or should expect the least bit of favoritism in the judicial system, the insights gained through the bar presidency will be absolutely invaluable.
Last month in New Orleans for the National Conference of Bar Presidents, I saw a street entertainer juggling machetes on Royal Street. Dropping a buck in his bucket, I told him his act was a metaphor more my life this year.
A lot of my work with the State Bar is behind the scenes, serving as the WD-40 in relations between groups in the bar and the three branches of government. My old tricks as a mediator in years past occasionally prove useful in dealing with players that have trouble talking productively with each other.
Excluding a tremendous amount of office work, phone conferences, writing articles, etc., here are a few of the things since January 1 that I can mention in public:
- Jan. 3 & 4. Attended several fundraisers for legislators.
- Jan. 5. Judicial Council meeting all afternoon.
- Jan. 6. 9 AM, video deposition of a doctor at Emory for a case on trial calendar; 11 AM, attend swearing in of my friend Judge Mike Boggs on Georgia Court of Appeals; 12 PM, meeting of Next Generation Courts Commission which I appointed; 4 PM, settled case that was on trial calendar the following Monday for exact amount that had been my target for a year.
- Jan. 7. Presided over State Bar Board of Governors meeting in morning. Attended Young Lawyers Division black tie party in evening at Capitol City Club.
- Jan. 10. Supreme Court hearing in morning, meeting with Governor’s executive counsel in afternoon.
- Jan. 11. Photo sessions with all lawyer legislators at state capitol in morning for cover of Georgia Bar Journal. Meeting in afternoon with Superior Court Clerks, Administrative Office of Courts staff and Supreme Court justice re: creation of electronic court filing system.
- Jan. 12. 11 AM, attend meeting of Georgia Dispute Resolution Commission by phone (hands free, just listening) en route to another meeting. Noon, speak at Sandy Springs Bar Association.
- Jan. 13. Tape legislative update webcast. Attend meeting of Local & Voluntary Bars Committee re: planning for Law Day and new Georgia Bar Leadership Institute.
- Jan. 17. State Bar Personnel Committee.
- Jan. 20. Breakfast meeting with other creative trial lawyers re: practice development strategy. Tape legislative update webcast at Bar Center. Drive to Macon. Speak to lunch meeting of Macon Bar Association at 1880s vintage Macon Armory. Drive to Columbia, SC.
- Jan. 21. Attend SC Bar midyear meeting, with joint appearance U.S. Supreme Court Justices Breyer and Scalia discussing their competing views on the U.S. Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court. Sat with my brother-in-law who is at a law firm in Columbia.
- Jan. 24. Conference call re: business law legislation.
- Jan. 25. Attend Chief Justice’s State of the Judiciary address at Capitol and law practice technology seminar at Bar Center.
- Jan. 27. Tape legislative update webcast. Attend hearing of House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee re: constitutional amendment to secure funding for indigent defense. Host lunch for that committee at Commerce Club.
- Feb. 1. Joint press conference with Attorney General in rotunda of Capitol re: Georgia Legal Food Frenzy campaign supporting Georgia’s regional food banks.
- Feb. 2. Southern Conference of Bar Presidents in New Orleans. Dinner with leadership of GA, NC & SC state bars.
- Feb. 3-4. National Conference of Bar Presidents. Spoke Saturday morning on international trade in legal services. Attend ABA Fellows dinner at World War II Museum. Talk with Justice Scalia about having him speak at some future Georgia Bar meeting.
- Feb. 7. Depositions in Henry County re: a truck wreck case.
- Feb. 8. Spoke to Waycross Bar Association lunch meeting. Worked on cases while an aide drove there and back.
- Feb. 9. Lunch re: options for funding Georgia Legal Services Program for poor Georgians. Host dinner with House Judiciary Committee and staff.
- Feb. 10. Tape legislative update webcast.
- Feb. 10-11. Marriage renewal event at church with my bride of 29 years.
- Feb. 13. Boy Scout patrons breakfast at Alston & Bird, confer with several judges and leaders of other statewide organizations.
- Feb. 15. Depositions at office during day. Host dinner with Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Feb. 16. At lunch meeting of Columbus Bar Association, present 50 year awards to six guys who went to Columbus High School together and have practiced law in their hometown for 50 years. Preside over State Bar Executive Committee meeting.
- Feb. 17-18. Southern Trial Lawyers Association. Speak Saturday morning on “15 Exceptions to Independent Contractor Defense.” Attend Mardi Gras party.
- Feb. 19. Due to airline snafu, spend day in New Orleans airport, miss connecting flight to Tampa.
- Feb. 20-21. Depositions in Tampa re: a truck wreck case.
- Feb. 22. State Bar Communications Committee meeting re: upcoming media campaign and revamping of website.
- Feb. 24. Tape legislative update webcast.
- Feb. 25. Bar & Media Conference all day Saturday at Bar Center.
- Feb. 26. Serve communion.
- Feb. 27. Speak at Beginning Lawyers Program.
- Feb. 28. Speak at lunch meeting of Morgan County Rotary Club, Madison. Speak at Justice Robert Benham Community Service Awards at Bar Center in evening.
- Feb. 29. Conference call with leaders of an existing bar section and a proposed new section, resolving selection of name for new section.
- March 2. Tape legislative update webcast. State Bar Finance Committee meeting.
- March 7. Meeting with Chief Justice and staff. Speak at lunch meeting of North Fulton Republican Women’s Club re: criminal justice reform and, at their request, Shariah law.
- March 8. Legislative committee hearing on criminal justice reform legislation. Lunch with committee chair and chair of corresponding bar committee.
- March 9-11. Joint meeting of State Bar Executive Committee and Supreme Court at St. Simons Island. Preside over Executive Committee business meeting on Friday. Co-preside with Chief Justice in joint session on Saturday morning. Host dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- March 11. Drive from St. Simons Island to Charleston for reenlistment and promotion ceremony for my “glow in the dark” baby brother (32 years younger) who is an assistant instructor in U. S. Navy nuclear propulsion program. Then after dinner drive from Charleston to Atlanta, getting home at 2 AM.
- March 13. Speak at lunch meeting of Western Circuit Bar Association in Athens. Conference call re: State Bar legislation in last 10 days of legislative session.
The next 81 days will be a lot more of the same, with numerous meetings and speaking engagements around the state, several joint appearances with the Attorney General, at least one trip to Washington, etc.
Then on June 2nd in Savannah, I will hand the gavel to my able successor, Robin Clark, and begin my first real vacation in several years.
Sometime later in June, I will return refreshed and ready to focus 110% on pushing my clients’ cases.