by A. Tyrone Glover, DBA President

The theme for this month’s issue is Bridges, and I had hoped to be writing about the bridge to post-pandemic life. However, as I sit down to write this letter, our community is once again staring down a path of uncertainty. COVID-19 cases are surging, and hospitalizations are up across our state. Masks are being reinstituted, and employers are mandating vaccinations. Just weeks ago, it seemed like there was a clear and straight bridge to normalcy. But now, a fog has descended onto that bridge, and the future is less certain. Who knows where we will be when this letter is published? Will things have gotten worse? Hopefully, they will have improved.

As I wrestle with these questions, I find myself reflecting on our recent DBA Awards Ceremony. It was one of the first in-person events held at our office since the pandemic and we honored several distinguished members of the Bar who had given back and supported not only our profession but the community at large. There were lawyers in attendance from different generations, practice areas, and backgrounds — all there to honor the commitments and achievements of our colleagues. I had attended past award ceremonies, but this one felt different. True, we were back in person and that was different, but I think it was the fact that I was in the presence of leaders in our community who I had worked so closely with over the last year-and-a-half in what felt like a relentless onslaught of challenges and crises. These leaders not only helped our organization, profession, and community meet these challenges head-on, but they moved us forward, making us stronger and more connected. So, while it was great to celebrate, it was also uplifting to be in the presence of the very folks in that room who were ready and capable of rallying to face the future. The hopefulness that I felt during the Awards Ceremony reminded me of some of the incredible bridges we built over the course of the last few years.

We have built bridges in our own organizations. DBA/CBA/CLE, over the past couple of leadership cycles, have endeavored to implement a joint management structure. This has required bylaw changes, restructuring, hiring of staff, and changes in organizational culture. It has been these structural changes championed by my predecessor Kevin McReynolds, that have allowed our Executive Director, Amy Larson, Deputy Executive Director, Dan Sweetser, and our wonderful staff, to better engage our volunteers and membership. It truly feels like one Bar where we all strive to work collaboratively and laterally across the organization.

We have built bridges to our partner-bar associations. The onset of the pandemic had the potential to divide and isolate our legal community. We, however, did the opposite and came together. We all built bridges not to merely preserve our organizations but to move our issues and agenda’s forward and thrive. These bridges allowed us to collaborate on CLE’s, programming, and events. These bridges gave us the fortitude, through the President’s Diversity Council, to push for meaningful change through the CLE EDI rule requirement. These bridges have enabled us to step up and support each other in the face of tragedies and injustices so that no one stands alone.

We have built bridges to the community. Our communities were and still are in crisis. As lawyers and leaders, we have a responsibility to show up where we practice and live. We must build bridges between our profession and the people who desperately need our expertise. DBA’s Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) has not missed a beat in continuing to engage the community. With the help of our Bar and community partners, MVL has made sure we are getting the necessary resources to those in need through innovative and meaningful ways. Also impressive is the commitment by our DBA staff and volunteers to support MVL. The DBA Young Lawyers division has, and continues to, put on fundraisers and recruiting events, which have helped to keep a steady influx of resources, both personal and financial, to sustain MVL’s efforts. And then there is the Barristers Benefit Ball. Since going virtual, the BBB has exceeded fundraising goals due to the commitments of our membership, but also largely due to the DBA staff’s support as this year’s highest contributing BBB fundraising team.

So, while I am not writing the “bridges” letter I had originally set out to, when I reflect on the incredible work the DBA, CBA, CLE, and our other Bar Partners have done, the bridges we have built, and the impact we have made in the face of last year’s, and this year’s, turbulence, I am assured that whatever impending challenges are coming we can navigate.

And speaking of challenges, I would like to congratulate all those who took the Bar exam this past July. Quite the impressive feat and we look forward to welcoming you to the profession.