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President’s Message

President’s Message: One People, One Community, One Bar!

 LaShawnda K. Jackson, Esq.

 The Briefs // July 2020, Vol. 88 No. 6

Many join the board of an organization out of a sense of service or responsibility, but mostly out of pure passion. I can certainly say that is the case for the members of the OCBA Executive Council. From the financially fiscal wizards, to the intellectual property and bylaws gurus, to those always willing to confront the elephant in the room, they are passionate about the OCBA, its missions, and its goals. They all bring their own unique experiences and perceptions to advance the OCBA. Although the installation luncheon has been postponed to August 27, 2020, I did not want to start the 2020-2021 bar year without welcoming Lisa Guerrero, Bruce Mount, Jennifer Smith Thomas, and YLS President Brandon Sapp to the Executive Council. I also want thank the returning members of the Executive Council who continue to be passionate about the OCBA and its membership: President-Elect Eric Reed, Treasurer Karen Persis, Secretary Amber Davis, Immediate Past President Anthony “Tony” Sos, Euribiades “Euri” Cerrud, II, Keshara Cowans, Arti Hirani, Catherine “Kate” Hollis, Kristopher Kest, Gary Salzman, Jessica Travis, William D. “Bill” Umansky, and Ryan Williams. These are the people who have worked for years ensuring the sustainability of the OCBA, even during economic downturns. Due to social distancing guidelines, we were unable to pose for our annual Executive Council photograph in May, so we wanted to surprise them with the special cover on the July issue of The Briefs. Thanks!

Speaking of The Briefs, you may have noticed some changes to the editorial staff. Congratulations to our new Editor Robyn M. Kramer, returning Associate Editor Karen L. Middlekauff, and new Associate Editor John M. Hunt. As a former co-editor of The Briefs, I know how much hard work and planning goes into its production. Robyn, Karen, and John have already had a great start to the new bar year, and I look forward to seeing the exciting things they have in store for us this year. Also, a special thanks to Peggy Storch, who has worked tirelessly for years to make The Briefs what it is today. I would end my message here, but I know the editors will demand more. So, I write on.

I want to wish all of you a Happy Fourth of July. As a small child, I got excited for this holiday, mostly because we got new outfits (usually red, white, and blue) for the annual picnic, and my grandfather allowed us to pick our own watermelon from his watermelon patch to take with us. I recall the smell of barbeque in the air, the sight of baseball players on the mound, hearing laughter everywhere, and seeing fireworks light up the night sky. By the end of the day, we were exhausted from all the fun and wet from the Slip ‘n Slide and “Bomb Pop” popsicles used to keep us cool, but we were excited to know that we would do this all over again the next year. As I grew older, I started to learn the true meaning of the holiday – the birth of American independence following the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Historians note that after the Revolutionary War, Independence Day was used to create a feeling of unity, but by the 18th Century, the unity had faded and the celebrations became political.

My message to you as we approach July 4, 2020, is this – there is so much that divides us, but there is so much more that unites us. While we are in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, we are still ONE PEOPLE. I remind you that the preamble to the U.S. Constitution speaks of “We the People” and of forming “a more perfect union.” Our union is not and has never been perfect, but as legal professionals we are in a position to shape our union and our justice system for all people.

While we are in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, we are still ONE COMMUNITY. The vision of peaceful protestors of all races, genders, and ages coming together to take to the streets of Orlando and all over the country shows us the power of uniting. Hearing the leaders in our community speak up, listen, and hold town halls and forums to open the dialogue about racism and injustice shows us that we are one community.

While we are in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, we are still ONE BAR. The OCBA and the other Central Florida voluntary bar associations unite to recognize the struggle to ensure that all people are treated fairly and have equal justice under the law. As we all continue to speak out against the mistreatment of people based on the color of their skin or other discriminatory reasons, we hope to continue the dialogue because we are one bar with one common goal: to promote improvements in the law and in the administration of justice.

I encourage all of you to think about the concept of one people, one community, and one bar as we move forward through the 2020-2021 bar year. Let us also enjoy our family and friends during this Fourth of July holiday. Let us remember the fun times we had as a kid (or even as an adult) celebrating this holiday. Let us rejoice in the glow of the fireworks that will light the sky. Stay safe and sanitized!

INTERESTING (BUT NOT-SO-FUN) FACT: Did you know that three of the five founding father Presidents died on July 4th? John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831.

LaShawnda K. Jackson, Esq., is a partner at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, P.A., practicing in the areas of casualty litigation, products liability, and trucking defense. She has been a member of the OCBA since 2002.

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