We’ve done a lot of good things in the past year and I am proud of our accomplishments.
By Tad Delegal, JBA President
So, this is my last column as Jacksonville Bar Association president. I know that I’ve heard lots of former presidents tell me how glad they were to give up this job, and I certainly want to have more time available for my practice and my golf game.
But, in truth, I have really enjoyed serving as your president and working with the great group of lawyers and staff who make up the JBA.
We’ve done a lot of good things in the past year and I am proud of our accomplishments. Geddes Anderson’s leadership in 2016-17 gave us a good platform from which we began the process of examining and strengthening the association.
We went through a lot of gnashing of teeth before managing to land our executive director, Jim Bailey, but Jim and his team have set us on the right course. (P.S., thanks to Tony Zebouni for helping to trick Jim into agreeing to accept the job).
When I look at our events and our organization, I can see some real growth and improvement. The new website is great, the luncheons are improved, the events are improved and the JBA has developed new energy. We have done some great work with the D.W. Perkins Bar Association and the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association and increased our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
I have had the great fortune to have been able to work with President-elect Katie Dearing, Treasurer Elizabeth Ferguson and Secretary Michelle Barnett on our executive board, and we have made a good team in forging directions for the organization.
Our board of governors has been dynamic, and the board members have accepted new roles and responsibilities to help us move the organization in the right direction. All-in-all, I think that we have left the organization in good shape, and I can’t wait to see the great things that Katie and her team will bring next year.
The JBA is on a great trajectory, but I do have fears for the profession.
Attorneys, judges and the legal system rely upon a system of institutional respect, but we are seeing our country’s institutions continuously denigrated and degraded. Our society is becoming numb to daily attacks on the concepts of honesty, decency, the rule of law and respect for institutions – the very concepts and principles upon which our profession is built.
I have become increasingly concerned as a parade of respected figures, including conservative statesmen and persons who have left the administration, who have warned about the danger that the president poses to the continued viability of our nation, only to see their warnings seemingly lost in a news cycle that features the next day’s new presidential outrage.
We shrug off constant stories of conduct and statements that would have brought down past administrations, seemingly oblivious to the growing number of the president’s inner circle who are under indictment. I cannot help but think that the pattern we are seeing is probably similar to that observed by the legal profession in societies destroyed by strongmen or cults-of-the-individual, and I profoundly hope that we don’t find ourselves longing a decade from now for the good old days of the rule of law.
I am hopeful, though. I have had the chance to work with some extremely dedicated and competent persons during my tenure with the JBA, and I know that those people are dedicated to preserving the values of the American system of government.
As JBA president, I witnessed how our members give their time and energy to the community and to the continuation and improvement of our justice-based society. It has been an honor to serve as your president, and I thank you very much for the opportunity.