2016 - 2017 President
Craig A. McCarthy, Esq.
Gust Rosenfeld, PLC
PLEASE PASS THE TORCH
The first time I attended an AADC function was a December judicial reception in the early 1990s. In those days the holiday soiree was held at the top of the Chase Tower (known then as the Valley National Bank Tower) and it was quite a view from the 38th floor. The place was decked out for the holidays and the city lights were visible for miles. It was an impressive scene but it wasn't the view or the decorations that impressed me most. It was watching the partners from my office and other firms mingling with the judges and telling war stories. Real war stories about trials and depositions and judges who dared not show up! I was in awe. Not only did I aspire to be a trial lawyer who would one day have my own war stories but I was drawn to the obvious affection and mutual respect that these highly accomplished professionals had for one another. I saw authentic collegiality--what appeared to be a true bond throughout this fraternity of trial lawyers. As this year's AADC president, the legacy I most want to see passed on to our younger successors is the gift of community within our profession.
In recent years, my predecessors have written about the AADC's various member services, educational programs and practice resources. They have touted the development of our website and improvement in our electronic communications. However, our most important mission is to pass on an appreciation of how AADC membership can enhance and enrich a defense lawyer's career. To ensure that the benefits of AADC membership are enjoyed by those who are practicing twenty years from now, we need to tell the story of why the AADC has been so important to our professional development.
Each of us has our own story, of course. Some were just told to show up at AADC networking events. Some were sent to the CLE seminars. Some became members of the Young Lawyers Division and helped with events like the YLD Charity Softball Tournament. Some played in the Barry Fish ALS charity golf tournament and others attended the monthly advocacy lunch seminars to get their CLE hours and Honey Bear's BBQ fix. At these events, we met new people and we talked with people we had cases with. We got to know each other on a different level. From there, many of us went on to expand our involvement. We taught seminars or judged law school competitions, attended the annual meeting or volunteered in the pro-bono lawyer assistance or amicus briefing programs. We traded legal strategies and shared information about experts and opposing counsel. We exchanged research materials and pleadings on all kinds of topics. We got to know colleagues who not only had the skill set to assist us on our professional journey but they actually wanted to help us! Colleagues became friends and friendships took on added texture and depth. As time passed, those friendships paid many dividends—personally, professionally and financially.
The practice of law has changed a great deal since my mentor, Dick Segal, began his practice in 1956. Computers enable more people to fight over more issues in more courts than ever before. The internet has changed the way people communicate and obtain information both professionally and personally. Smart phones have improved our ability to organize but they have also turned convenience and immediate access into an expectation. Such progress has facilitated multi-tasking for lawyers but it has also minimized extensive human contact with court staff, clients, experts and other lawyers. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for developing real relationships through actual face time with people. The best professional advice you get is still handed out in the back of a conference room or the hallway of a courthouse. Professional relationships require an investment of time and authentic interaction. No lawyer I know ever developed a substantial client or referral relationship through social media exclusively. Just like Martindale Hubbell when I was young, LinkedIn and AVVO have their place but they are no substitute for developing personal relationships in our profession.
Our litigation craft demands a major investment of time; part of that investment must involve developing a professional network. Your "rolodex" of colleagues, consultants and touts is still best constructed through personal interaction--getting to know people over a drink, a sandwich or ten foot putt. Finding a mentor or a protégé does not happen by accident. Developing great referral sources or building stables of top tier experts depends on a strong web of connected professionals.
We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We need not re-invent the wheel. If we are smart, we learn to borrow good ideas, sage philosophies, tested strategies and professional references from those willing to share. But we don't find those pearls of experience through a fiber optic cable or satellite signal. We come by them through time spent with each. On October 13, 2016, the AADC will host an event to start or expand your networks. We are bringing young lawyers--from inside and outside our association--together with our "more seasoned members" for an outdoor reception from 5:30-7:30 at OHSO, a microbrewery located at 4900 East Indian School Road. In addition to enjoying good food and drink, we hope to share some stories and some laughs that illustrate why the AADC has been critical to our and why we believe it is so important to keep the torch moving on down the line. We hope to see you there. After all, "it's all about who you know."