by David C. Anderson
2016-2017 OCBA President
As the 84th president of the OCBA, younger lawyers often ask me how I became involved in the bar association. That question always makes me smile because it seems like just yesterday that I was a new lawyer, and I know that the inquiring new lawyer has yet to realize that the years ahead will flash by in the blink of an eye. Such new lawyers ask that question because they are wondering what they need to do to become a leader within the OCBA. They recognize that doing so will advance their career and make the practice of law more fulfilling.
The answer is simple: Just keep showing up. The rest will take care of itself. While all members of the bar association are important contributors to the overall well-being of the organization, the OCBA board of directors recognizes that newer lawyers are the future leaders of the OCBA and drive the growth of ideas, innovation and membership within the bar association. Surprisingly, that wasn’t always the case. Did you know that the OCBA did not always have a New Lawyers Committee? That story and my own can be told simultaneously.
I’ve enjoyed working with the OCBA for 18 years – my entire professional career. I began by joining the Law Related Education Committee in 1999 shortly after passing the bar exam. My fellow committee members and I worked to put together Law Day programs for high school students. At that time, the OCBA did not have a New Lawyers Committee. While the bar association once had a Young Lawyers Committee, that committee had dissolved by the mid-1990s. In 2001, recognizing the importance of new blood to the bar association, the OCBA board of directors, led by Elias Escobedo Jr. as its president, created the New Lawyers Committee. It was named the New Lawyers Committee (NLC) rather than the Young Lawyers Committee because not all new lawyers are necessarily young. Under the NLC’s bylaws, anyone practicing for 10 years or less qualifies as a new lawyer.
To form the NLC, the OCBA board of directors established an NLC board of directors, to which they appointed new lawyers who were already active in the bar association. Jennifer Grieco was the inaugural chairperson of the new NLC. As you probably know, she went on to serve as president of the OCBA in 2010-2011, is currently a State Bar commissioner, and is slated to be State Bar president in 2018. In that inaugural year of the NLC, I was fortunate enough to be appointed as a director. I later served as chair of the NLC from 2004 through 2006, was elected to the OCBA board of directors in 2007 and now have the privilege of serving the members of the OCBA as president. Other past NLC members now on the OCBA board of directors include Judge Maureen McGinnis and Oakland County Bar Foundation President Kaveh Kashef. Clearly, active participation in the NLC can help develop the leadership qualities that lead to obtaining a seat on the OCBA board of directors.
When I was first appointed to the NLC board of directors, I treated it as simply a work-related assignment. It was something I had to do as opposed to something I wanted to do. But after going to only a few meetings, I began to make friends. And because of that, participating in NLC activities became fun and something that I would look forward to doing. In fact, to this day, I consider Jennifer, Judge McGinnis and Kaveh to be a few of my very good friends. Together, along with other NLC members, we developed Summer Splash, Novemberfest, Meet the Judges, the Board vs. New Lawyers Bowling Challenge, the annual Tiger Game Outing and other events, many of which continue to this day.
New Lawyers are the lifeblood of the OCBA. We brought energy and ideas to the bar association. And that tradition continues today. Under its current leadership, the NLC is bigger and more vibrant than ever. NLC members recognize the unrivaled value of participation in the OCBA. In turn, the OCBA recognizes that newer lawyers fuel and strengthen the organization. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “True education is a kind of never ending story – a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.” The NLC brings that persistent newness to the bar association. So, if you are a newer lawyer, we more than welcome your participation. Or if you supervise newer lawyers, we ask that you encourage them to get involved (and maybe even pay their dues).
Finally, our annual board of directors election is also a habitual fresh start that brings persistent newness to the leadership of the OCBA. If you haven’t already, please be sure to cast your vote online by May 15.