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Braxton Gillam

Bar Bulletin: Time flies when you're having fun, says outgoing JBA President Braxton Gillam

By Braxton Gillam, President of The Jacksonville Bar Association

As the adage goes, “Time flies when you are having fun.” It seems like yesterday I was sitting down to write my first president’s article for The Jacksonville Bar Bulletin. At the time, I wondered if I would ever be able to come up with enough words to fill 13 articles.

Today, a year later, I know that there is not enough space in my last article to say all of the things on my mind.

A couple of years ago, I attended a voluntary Bar leaders’ conference where a panel of past presidents offered advice to voluntary Bar leaders. One of the panelists specifically talked about writing the “President’s Page” and the anguish he felt as each deadline approached to write his articles. Ultimately, his tongue-in-cheek advice was, “Don’t sweat it, nobody reads the articles anyway.”

To Troy Smith, I would say, “Not so.”

While readership is certainly not universal, after almost every article I have written this year was published, I have gotten an email or a telephone call from someone asking a question about the topic, or offering a compliment—or criticism—on the commentary.

For those of you who have suffered through my articles this year, thank you for your readership.

Another reason time can seem to fly is because you are busy. The Jacksonville Bar Association has long been busy, and this year has been no exception. This year kicked off with a weekend move from the prior office space in the Aetna Building to our new space on the 22nd Floor of the Wells Fargo Center. The Bar staff worked through the Labor Day holiday weekend and ensured a seamless transition for our business operations.

In addition, through the hard work and dedication of our committee and section leadership and support from the Bar staff, the JBA sponsored more than 23 seminars covering a wide range of legal subject matter this year.

Thanks to support and input from our past leadership and members of our local judiciary, we partnered with Florida Coastal School of Law this year to promote mentoring and Bar participation among the law students in our community.

Through the tireless work of Giselle Carson and the JBA staff we also finalized and rolled out the new JBA website, jaxbar.org. As a self-declared technologically challenged individual, I am particularly appreciative of Giselle’s leadership on this project.

As I list some of this year’s accomplishments, three things occur to me: First, I am boring you; next, I am using up precious space in my last article by listing things that can be read about on the JBA website; and worst of all, I will inevitably leave out some of the JBA’s good works and successes from this year.

There is not enough space in this article to recognize each of the over 100 volunteer leaders who have contributed to the JBA’s work this year. The work goes on each day in the Bar office and in law firms around the city. For me, it has been humbling to see just how many hours our members donate to our organization and community on an annual basis. The Bar staff’s efforts throughout the year have also made my job easier, and I sincerely thank them for their time and commitment to our organization.

As this year ends, I cannot help but feel a little sense of relief. It has indeed been a busy year, but relief is not the primary emotion I am experiencing.

For the past 15 years , through my time on the Young Lawyers Section Board of Governors and in recent years on the JBA Board, Bar service has been a significant part of my life. When I think about the friendships and professional relationships that I have developed through membership in this organization, it is with pride that I have recommended membership in the JBA to law students and young lawyers.

So it is with some measure of sadness that I accept the mantle of “Immediate Past President.” Ever the good friend, however, Troy has assured me that he has plenty for me to do next year. In the meantime, in the words of Ray Driver, “The Bar is open.”

I’ll see you there!

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