President's Message

Richard S. Dellinger, Esq.

 

The Briefs, June  2018

Following a Legacy of Service

 

When lawyers hear that I am the incoming president of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. (“OCBA” or the “Bar”), they frequently ask what the OCBA will be doing for them during the coming year. For so many, this Bar is scrutinized through the lens of self-interest. They wonder what the Bar can do to help them, what the Bar has done for them lately, and what they are getting in return for their Bar dues.

There has been a fundamental shift in attitudes towards service organizations and civic associations. I see this in Little League, where I serve in leadership with other volunteer leaders, and I hear similar questions from our association’s members. It is time to change our point of reference and not ask ourselves how the Bar can serve us, but what we can do to serve the Bar. This association was founded in 1933 and we have grown to more than 3,500 members. The OCBA of 1933 is not the same OCBA as today. Our membership and leadership are more diverse, and in our mission statement, we have agreed that as an organization we must “provide for a diverse and inclusive bar.” Despite their historical shortcomings in diversity, prior leaders of the OCBA did a great job setting up an institution that works well at community service, professional fulfillment, training, and support for the legal profession.

Our organization was structured to allow you to serve while at the same time helping you to be a better lawyer who is connected with the community, as well as with a network of attorneys to help you succeed in your law practice. The founders of our association codified their plans for the OCBA when they adopted the Articles of Incorporation (“Articles”) of the OCBA. The Articles provide that the objectives of the OCBA are:

  • To maintain the honor and dignity of the legal profession;

  • To promote improvements in the law and in the methods of its administration;

  • To promote knowledge and understanding of the legal profession;

  • To cultivate professional ethics and social intercourse among the members;

  • To operate as a scientific institution of learning in the field of science of jurisprudence and as a library company in relation to books and equipment;

  • As a charitable corporation with respect to legal aid to the indigent;

  • As a benevolent association in relation to its members;

  • As a debating and literary society in the area of legal philosophy and literature;

  • To operate as a corporate not-for-profit charitable, scientific, literary, and education organization for the legal profession; and

  • To promote judicial reform and the election and selection of judicial and court-related officials.

The legacy of these past presidents, executive council members, committee chairs, staff, and members can be seen in our association’s activities. Those activities directly match the objectives as set out in the OCBA’s  Articles. For example, we maintain the honor and dignity of the legal profession by promoting professionalism through our Professionalism Committee and corresponding awards. We promote improvements in the law and in the methods of its administration through educational programming and close relations with the judiciary. We promote knowledge and understanding of the legal profession through our community outreach programs and Law Week activities. We cultivate professional ethics and social intercourse among the members through our social committee, other active committees, and monthly lunches. We operate as a scientific institution of learning in the field of the science of jurisprudence, and as a library company in relation to books and equipment through our Bar Center, our website, and our historical legal materials. We act as a charitable corporation with respect to legal aid to the indigent through the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. (“LAS”) and our Orange County Bar Foundation, Inc. (the “Foundation”). We act as a benevolent association in relation to our members through our active and engaging social programs. We act as a debating and literary society in the area of legal philosophy and literature through our Briefs magazine and social media interactions. We operate as a corporate not-for-profit with charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes in the realm of the legal profession through our committees’ work and the work of our Foundation. And, we promote judicial reform, and election and selection of judicial officials and court-related officials through our Judicial Relations Committee and close relationships with our judiciary.

As this year of service begins, the legacy of those before me is plainly apparent in our services and programs. Immediate past president Liz McCausland dedicated her year to the OCBA and its goals and served tirelessly through meetings, phone calls, emails, lunches, breakfasts, dinners, happy hours, social events, and charitable events. During that time, she championed the OCBA and its mission and is a continuation of the legacy of fine Bar leaders who tirelessly served you and the Central Florida legal community. I respect the service of those who occupied the seat of OCBA president. Past presidents have gone on to be judges, elected officials, senior partners, and respected community servants. Among those leaders are senior Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. (“LDDKR”) partners who I respect greatly, John Lowndes and Julie Frey.

Throughout this year, we plan to dedicate this publication and the social media posts to the OCBA’s missions. In July, we will focus on how our younger lawyers are being trained to meet the challenges of the profession, with a focus on our Young Lawyers Section, our New Lawyer Training Program, and our mentorship program. In August, we will focus on access to justice by highlighting our Lawyer Referral and Information Service, our Modest Means program, and our new Ask a Lawyer programming. In October, we will focus on our judiciary and our work in supporting and championing the judicial branch. In November, we will focus on the work of our committees. In January, we will focus on the pro bono services of our lawyers and the work of our LAS. In February, we will focus on our efforts to better diversify the practice. And in March, we will focus on service projects of our members.

So, as I transition into the presidency, I am fortunate that the hard work in establishing these programs was done by the leaders who came before me. The leaders before me followed the direction of the OCBA founders and set up the institutions required for a long-standing, successful organization. And, the leaders before me hired very capable staff, led by executive director and attorney Kim Homer, to oversee our events and programs. I am simply following their legacy of service while preserving the successful programs and services that our prior leaders established. In the coming year, I look forward to working with our executive council to carry out the mission of the OCBA. We will continue to become more diverse and inclusive, and we will always seek to improve our existing services. Our Bar lunches will continue, and we hope you will take advantage of this member benefit by coming out and meeting your colleagues. The Briefs will continue to be published in the same format under the watchful eyes of Peg Storch and our Briefs editors. Our committees will continue to offer programming and social interactions. Our LRIS program and LAS will expand the community’s access to justice. We will continue to build strong relationships with our judiciary and advocate for independence of the judiciary. And we will do all of this while operating on a balanced budget but with an eye towards fiscal responsibility.

The OCBA will continue to operate the way our founders intended in 1933 and codified in 1967 (with the notable exception of the lack of diversity). The Articles of Incorporation require it, the leaders have implemented it, and we will continue to follow that legacy of service. It is my honor and privilege to serve as your 2018-2019 OCBA president. And, with the support of the executive council, the OCBA staff, my wife, Alisa, my son, Rhys, and my law firm, LDDKR, I will do my best to honor the legacy of those who previously served.

Richard S. Dellinger, Esq., a shareholder with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., practices in the litigation department in the areas of business litigation, trust and estate litigation, and significant dissolution of marriage. He has been a member of the OCBA since 1999.

Orange County Bar Association The Briefs, Vol. 86, No. 5, June 2018. All rights reserved.