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President’s Message Leila H. Watson From President the PARENT: Why do you care what they are doing if you don’t want to be with them. You need new friends. Fast forward to the present and the shoe is on the other foot. I have been told, scolded, lectured and requested by judges that I should abandon e-mail every now and again and pick up the telephone and call the other lawyer to meet and talk. We might work out a resolution that benefits all of us. The judges are predicting that if I “hang out” with my opponent, we will get to know each other, develop new respect for each other, and be more willing and able to work through our differences. As a parent and a lawyer, I know there is some truth to that! So, we renovated the courtyard and CLE space and have made them inviting so that lawyers will want to come to Cocktails and CLEs or meet at the Bar Center and “hang out” with other lawyers and engage and collaborate with each other. We accomplish so much more when we get together for good and better. At the April Cocktails In The Courtyard, I was so pleased to see young lawyers that I had not seen before. I met Hannah Stokes, a new associate with Smith Spires Peddy, and learned that she was awarded the Janie L. Shores Scholarship, and shared with her my experiences as a law clerk for Justice Shores. I discovered that the clarinet player in the jazz band, Gaines Brake, is newly of counsel at Maynard Cooper & Gale, and the brother of one of my law clerks from 20 years ago. I spent a few minutes with a former law clerk, Mateo Forero, now a new associate at Balch & Bingham, and one of my mentees, Ashley Crank, now a new associate with Friedman Dazzio. I had a wonderful evening. The judges were correct – when you walk out of your office and “hang out,” you discover new friends and learn things about old friends that give you new perspectives. When lawyers get together, the conversation always touches on the law, even if briefly – cases, war stories, a theory or observation to test out, experiences with judges and lawyers, how to find an expert, where to send a case. We really do enjoy what we do, and the proof is that we don’t mind talking shop with each other. Communication – it is the oxygen of every organization. Members are always apologizing for missing a BBA event so they can coach a team, attend a board meeting, volunteer at school or in the community, have a family dinner, or take a vacation. Please do not apologize to me. I am proud to know that our lawyers and judges are community leaders and servants, church deacons, mothers and fathers, coaches, field trip volunteers, scout leaders, business owners, and otherwise engaged outside the office world. I am glad that our lawyers and judges are sensible enough to take a break. So please quit apologizing, but do The BBA expended a lot of thought and effort in the past year on renovations and updates to the Bar Center. Why, in the days of internet and instant messaging, was it important to create wonderful spaces for lawyers to meet each other face-to-face? We can practically do all our business without setting foot out of our offices. We can text and e-mail and conduct business with each other without seeing anyone. We can file documents instantly without entering the courthouse or conversing with the clerk while waiting for our stamped file copies. But, we are not really communicating and engaging with people. My husband and I refused to put text messaging on our kids’ cell phones until they were in college. The argument went something like this: SON: All my friends have text. I need text so I can talk to my friends. PARENT: These people are your friends - pick up the phone and ask them to come over to your house so you can hang out together and talk. SON: I just want to know what is going on. I don’t want to hang out with them. 8 Birmingham Bar Association


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