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President's Column
President's Column
Judge Robert Rader
Wake County Bar Association


THIS MONTH I had the opportunity and distinct privilege to address the members of the Senior Lawyers. Most of us know this group as the "Senior Survivors,” a title that was affectionately bestowed by the late George Anderson who spearheaded the organization for so many years. Membership in this esteemed group is technically reserved for those members of the Wake County Bar who are age 60 or over and willing to publicly admit it. However, you will find this group to be quite welcoming to guests of any age.

One of my more recent visits with the Senior Survivors was at the invitation of Earl Purser and Robert McMillan. Naturally, Robert McMillan, being the consummate gentleman and host, insisted that he and Earl would drive and pick me up at the Courthouse. As we proceeded to the NCSU University Club, the site of many WCBA Holiday parties and functions in the past, the conversation was enlightening and naturally full of humor. As we stopped at a traffic light on Wade Avenue, Earl pointed out that he used to date a girl who lived in a house at that intersection. Robert responded, "Well Earl, you could say the 
same about almost any intersection in town.” Earl quickly replied, "Ah now you hush Robert!” Needless to say, the conversation and exchanges between Robert and Earl were well worth the trip.

As we gathered for lunch, I began to look around the room to see just how many of the attorneys I personally knew or had interacted with over the years. As I was engaged in conversation with Bo McDonald, Gene Boyce, Al Purrington and others at my table, I noticed Wright Dixon entering the room. Wright at the time was confined to a wheel-chair and was being assisted into the room by Charlie Blanchard. While happy to see both, I was a bit overwhelmed by this image. Here were two legendary attorneys who have served in virtually every leadership capacity imaginable at the local and state bar level, who had more often than not represented adversaries in the courtroom, and who now face considerable physical challenges brought on by the hands of time, yet both remained committed to overcoming these limitations in order to join their fellow 
attorneys for a bit of fellowship and comradery. Wow!

To attend a Senior Survivors meeting and reflect on those in attendance is awe inspiring. The collective knowledge, experience and wisdom is overwhelming. The dedication and service of so many of these fine attorneys to the profession and their fellow lawyers makes me extremely proud to be a lawyer and particularly to be a member of the Wake County Bar Association.

Over the past year, I have attended leadership training sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Presidents. As a participant at those programs, I have had the opportunity to interact with leaders from Bar Associations throughout the country The one thing that has become crystal clear to me is that we absolutely have one of the finest, strongest and most extraordinary bar associations in the country. That success is, in large part, directly attributable to the hard work of those such as the Senior Survivors who over the years have devoted their time and energy for the betterment of the profession and the bar.

As we begin a new year and the gavel of leadership has passed, I have been asked on several occasions what my vision is for the WCBA. My vision is straightforward. First and foremost, I want to see the WCBA continue a legacy of excellence. I want to build on the foundations that have been laid by those who have gone before us to make a great bar even better. I want us to explore new ways to serve the profession and the community. I want us to nurture and strengthen our mentoring program so that new lawyers entering the profession will have the skills, abilities and be better equipped to transition from law school into productive members of the profession. I want us to continue to make the promotion of civility, professionalism and the highest ethical standards among our members a top priority. I want us to expand and enhance the benefits of membership in the WCBA such that our ranks grow and membership is viewed by all as a wise investment in our professional careers. I want us to support NCBA President Catherine Arrowood in her efforts to secure adequate funding for the courts in order to ensure the proper and orderly administration of justice in our great state. I want us to embark on a new strategic planning initiative to chart the course for the WCBA over the next five years and beyond.

I am confident that working together we can make great strides toward making this vision a reality. I must admit that this goal has been made a bit easier by the very successful leadership of our Immediate Past President Gray Styers. By all accounts, Gray was a very dedicated, hard-working and highly effective President and quite frankly a hard act to follow.  Under Gray’s leadership the WCBA accomplished a tremendous amount in 2014. For that, we are all eternally grateful. Over the forthcoming months Mark Finkelstein, President of the Tenth Judicial District Bar, and I will be working together with the Board of Directors and our various committees to maintain and build on the success that we experienced over the past year.

Finally, let me express my sincere appreciation to you for the trust that you have placed in me.

I am deeply honored and humbled to serve as President of the WCBA. I look forward to working with each of you this year as we continue the Wake County Bar Association’s legacy of excellence. WBF

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