President's Column ~ January 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Posted by: Stephanie McGee
Thomas H. Davis, Jr.
Tenth J.D. Bar President and Wake County Bar Association
It is an honor for me
to serve as your President this year.
I am pleased to follow the highly successful
presidencies of Ted Edwards and Ted Smyth.
As good stewards, The Teds left our associations, the Wake County Bar
Association and the Tenth Judicial District Bar Association, better than they
They have given us a legacy
of increased community service, greater contributions to Legal Aid, and a focus
on embracing the diversity within our profession — diversity in age, gender,
ethnicity and religion.
With more than 2,300 members of the voluntary Wake County Bar
Association and more than twice the membership in the mandatory Tenth Judicial
District Bar, Wake County is the largest local bar in North Carolina.
It is also the best local bar.
To carry out our responsibilities to the profession requires
the support of an exceptional staff.
have such a staff under the capable direction of Whitney von Haam.
Our work also requires an "army” of
volunteers, the core of which are our committee members and committee chairs.
I am extremely grateful to those of you who
willingly give so much of your time.
We are all members of the greatest profession.
It is a profession which assists both the
individual and society as a whole.
law is not a job, it is a way of life.
As Thomas Nelson Page once wrote in his essay,
"The Old Virginia Lawyer,”
The law is an enlistment for life
and the battle is ever in array. ... Membership in it was a patent to the
possessor, a freemasonry, a tie like that of close common blood which made
every member of the bar a ‘brother lawyer'.
Every member was assumed to be all right, in virtue of his position,
without further question. ...
wanting] he was sentenced by the opinion of the bar in its severest term.
He was ‘unprofessional.'
Professionalism consists, in part, of the rules by which we
live, the ethics which surround, support and inform our actions.
A person who evidences professionalism
possesses a positive attitude while working to promote justice, access and
openness within our legal system.
Professionalism is knowledge and skill developed, shared and used for
the public benefit.
serving as a "home-away-from-home” for members of our local bar, has an
obligation to recognize, promote and perpetuate professionalism. We undertake
this task through various initiatives:
mentoring programs for young lawyers; our excellent, free CLE programs
and informal breakfast seminars; and the recognition of members for their devotion
The promotion of professionalism is, however, not ultimately
the responsibility of the bar association.
It is the responsibility of each practicing attorney.
The "Rules of Professional Conduct”
attempt to define minimum standards for
attorneys practicing in North Carolina.
A key rule sets an aspirational goal that every attorney devote no less
than fifty hours to pro bono activities each year.
Pro bono activities not only include the provision of legal
services to individuals who cannot otherwise afford legal counsel, but also
service in professional organizations which promote the rule of law and access
Our bar association is just
such an organization.
I challenge each
practicing attorney in Wake County, not only to join our association, but also
to be committed to the work of our association through active participation on
committees and in community projects.
Fifty hours a year is less than one hour per week.
Certainly we can spare and devote, no matter
how busy we are, at least that amount of time to promote professionalism.
We live in a time of change, a time of uncertainties for our
state, our nation and our society.
issues we confront are ones for which our profession, based upon logic and
reason, is singularly equipped to solve. To be part of the solution, we must
take the lead.
To take the lead, we must
be united, if not always in ideology, in our desire to place our profession in
service to our community as well as our clients.
A united bar is both young and old, male and
female, private practice and government practice.
Every member has a potential friend and
mentor in every other member.
friends and find those mentors through active participation in the Wake County