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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 5, 201905:00 AM EST

Leadership, the JBA and the St. Johns River

There are abundant opportunities to serve.
Blaine McCarthy

By Blane McCarthy •  JBA Board of Governors

Many lawyers join the Jacksonville Bar Association to avail themselves of the numerous leadership opportunities we offer. 

An analogy: Like most rivers, the St. Johns River starts humbly. Along its meandering route from its marsh headwaters in Indian River County, the river is augmented by several tributaries, including the Wekiva, Econlockhatchee and Ocklawaha rivers.

The resulting body of water is so voluminous and wide that the Buckman Bridge needs two miles of length to span it. Were it not for those tributaries, the St. Johns River’s breadth, health and impact would be greatly reduced.

Leadership in the Jacksonville Bar Association resembles the St. Johns River. Few of the JBA’s leaders started in the headwaters.

Most of us found ourselves being drawn into the leadership river by our involvement in one or more of its many tributaries. That involvement greatly adds to the breadth, health and impact of the JBA.

For fiscal year 2019-20, the association has 31 “tributaries” – 14 standing committees (primarily project-based), 16 substantive-law committees and the vibrant Young Lawyers Section (for lawyers younger than 36 or who have been a lawyer less than five years). Each of these “tributaries” provides entry into the JBA’s leadership river.

How does one tap into these leadership opportunities?

I recommend embracing servant leadership, something espoused by my Christian faith. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Whether you share my faith, hopefully, you see the wisdom in focusing on service to others.

The JBA’s committees and the YLS provide abundant opportunities to serve.

Committees have meetings that need organizers. Projects need promoters and participants. Lunch and learn seminars need presenters. Planning sessions need visionaries. Membership drives need recruiters and “friendraisers.” Social media pages need bloggers and posters.

There is no limit to the service opportunities provided by each of the JBA’s tributaries. One with a servant leader mindset can fully satisfy their drive.

Leadership that is merely a veiled self-advancement plan is seen for its hypocrisy. Nobody follows such a leader.

By contrast, the genuine servant leader’s main goal is the betterment of others, which often incidentally improves self.

To keep the maritime analogy flowing, contemplate the popular saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Serving your fellow JBA members lifts all, including the servant leader.

As each fiscal year draws to a close, the president-elect staffs the committee leadership for the following year. He or she often consults with the incumbent committee chairs to assess who among that committee’s membership should be considered to succeed them.

This is when genuine servant leadership rises to the top. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

The leadership opportunities within the JBA are numerous. Come join in as we serve our lawyer colleagues and the Jacksonville community.


Blane McCarthy is a Certified Circuit Mediator and a board-certified civil trial lawyer who represents injury victims.

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