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Bulletin Winter 2016

Special Interest J. Cole Portis, President, Alabama State Bar Love Your Neighbor I have always been impressed with Birmingham lawyers and the Birmingham Bar Association. There are many (too many) Birmingham lawyers who taught me a lesson or two during litigation. These lawyers were prepared and confident. Many times, local judges jokingly disparaged them as “Birmingham lawyers,” but they fit into the local culture just fine. In fact, many of them actually grew up in small towns but gravitated to the big city to practice law. To listen to these lawyers, they fell in love with the city and what it had to offer. Meanwhile, the Birmingham Bar Association thrived. In spite of the tremendous size of your local bar, the association has skillfully maintained a social atmosphere that is welcoming to all. Further, the Birmingham Bar engaged its members to serve our profession and the public. In the same vein, I am reminding all of the members of the State Bar that we, as lawyers, must serve the profession and the public. By using the catch phrase “Love Your Neighbor,” I am emphasizing that we must serve everyone and we must serve them from our hearts. Loving your neighbor is not a new concept. Before Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, I suspect the idea of loving your neighbor was a good rule to follow. However, a lawyer asked Jesus who was his neighbor. Instead of answering the question directly, Jesus told the story of an Israelite who was beaten, robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite saw him, but passed him by and failed to render aid. However, a Samaritan, who would have naturally been averse to helping an Israelite, stopped and aided this man far beyond what would have been expected. Jesus asked the lawyer, “which one acted like a neighbor?” The lawyer replied, “The one who showed mercy.” Will we go and do likewise? Recently, I received a number of emails about professionalism in our Bar. One person wrote, “I grew up in my Father's shadow. He has been a member of our bar for 45 years. I have been dragged all over this state attending court and conferences with my father over the past 37 years. The one thing I have seen change most is that lawyers lack respect and the feeling of brotherhood I witnessed in my Father's generation. On the day I was sworn in, as my Father and I were crossing the street to the Supreme Court, he stopped me before I took that first step leading up to Court, he grabbed my arm and looked me in the eye. He told me when he was a young lawyer, an older attorney had presented at a conference attended by my Dad and many of his friends. The older attorney told these new lawyers, ‘Lawyers are forever. Clients will come and go but lawyers are 24 Birmingham Bar Association


Bulletin Winter 2016
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