President's Message

Elizabeth F. McCausland

Elizabeth F. McCausland, Esq.

The Briefs, November 2017

Leading: Our Role and Responsibility

 

Our world and our communities have seen a great deal of turmoil in the past months. If you are like me, you find yourself vacillating between reading everything you can about what is happening and wanting to look at pictures of animals on your Facebook feed. If you are like others I know, you have shut down your social media, opting instead to have a creative outlet. At some point though, despite your best efforts, you are faced with news of destruction, conflicts in political views, human loss, racism, and impending turmoil in some form or another. Sometimes the event impacts you, sometimes it impacts those you love, and sometimes the impact is so far reaching that you find it difficult to avoid. It is times like these that we often find lawyers who become leaders.

Lawyers as leaders is not a hard concept. The legal profession has supplied most of the American presidents, and, in recent years, more than half of Congress.  Lawyers also occupy many leadership roles in governance and non-profit organizations. However, leaders are not solely relegated to titled positions in society. Lawyers can, and often are, leaders in every-day life and in the life of those around them. It is often a lawyer that people turn to when they have questions on injustice or seek to right a wrong. Lawyers, judges and laws are often what help to soothe and bring order to the turmoil around us. This is why, as much as we would love to hide from all the news, we mustn’t. Instead, we must speak up and lead our communities and our country in the right direction. Honestly, it is the burden we carry as lawyers.

There are many occasions where the OCBA is asked to make a statement or provide direction. In every occasion we look to see if it is proper for us to do so. We ask: Does it impact our members? Does it impact the rule or the practice of law? Is it the proper place for lawyers to lead? Is it part of our mission?

Our mission as an organization has been the topic of discussion for as long as I have been on the executive board (more than 10 years). This year at our June retreat, the executive board opted to further clarify our mission statement by adding one important word. We opted to clarify that we wish to provide for a diverse bar. Our mission statement already provided that we wished to provide for an inclusive bar. We just wanted to take it a step further to clarify our goal and the importance we place on diversity.

After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the OCBA was asked by several bar organizations and members to issue a statement. At first, it seemed that, although abhorrent, the events did not take place in Orange County and thus, did not seem to be something that the OCBA should issue a statement on. However, after some discussion, the board determined that there comes a time to lead and this was the time.  The following statement was issued. We stand by it and hope our members and our country do as well.

“Consistent with our mission statement, the OCBA is an inclusive organization. Diversity and inclusion are key tenants of our organization. We stand for freedom of speech but against bigotry, racism, and violence.”

 

Elizabeth Foshee McCausland, Esq., Liz McCausland, P.A., practices in the areas of bankruptcy, mortgage modification, and mediation. She also teaches lawyers across the U.S. on how to modify mortgages in bankruptcy. She has been a member of the OCBA since 1997.

Orange County Bar Association The Briefs, November 2017, Vol. 85, No. 9 All rights reserved.