President’s Message: In All Kinds of Weather… the OCBA Sticks Together!
LaShawnda K. Jackson, Esq.
The Briefs, June 2020 / Vol. 88 No. 5
To say we are living in unique times is an understatement. While I am humbled, honored, and privileged to serve as president of the OCBA, I recognize that there are more pressing issues for our members than this bar association. However, I do hope that over the last few months you have seen the OCBA and its membership as your extended family, helping to guide you in these unfamiliar and uncertain times. From virtual town hall meetings, CLEs, health and wellness events, happy hours, and other activities, our OCBA staff, Executive Council, and committees, along with our judiciary, have strived to assist you with your physical, mental, and financial health.
There were a lot of quick, moving parts behind the scenes to make all those virtual events possible. Thank you to all those who gave their time and talents during these difficult times. Thanks to my dear friend, Tony “Sammy Maze” Sos, for his hard work and dedication during his presidency. To the public, his presidency was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the cancellation of luncheons, the OCBA’s signature Bench Bar Conference, CLEs, and other events. But behind the scenes, Tony’s leadership continued as he worked tirelessly with executive director Jenny Brown and others to keep the OCBA running and our membership informed, all while also attending to the needs of his family and law firm. Having known Tony for more than 20 years, this was no surprise to me. His leadership and legacy will forever be remembered! His only failure – albeit small – was his refusal to write this “President’s Message” for me. Some friend, right?
After Tony’s rejection, I started by reading some of the past “President’s Messages” for inspiration. In his first “President’s Message” titled “Excited!,” Tony talked about his excitement for the upcoming bar year and introduced our new executive director. In his first “President’s Message” in 2018 titled “Following a Legacy of Service,” Richard Dellinger traced the history and purpose of the OCBA and the legacy of its past presidents. In 2017, Liz McCausland used her first “President’s Message” titled “Pulse: Rising to the Challenge” to discuss how the OCBA assisted our community in a time of tragedy. In his first “President’s Message” in 2016 titled “Implementation of OCBA’s Long Term Goals is the Focus of Strategic Planning Initiative,” Wiley Boston talked about the long-term program and vision of the OCBA. None of these past presidents could have envisioned that 2020 would bring a global pandemic that would temporarily shut the doors of the OCBA center.
Like Tony, I am excited about my role as president of the OCBA, but I understand that there will be difficult times ahead. Like Richard, I acknowledge the history, purpose, and legacy of the OCBA, but I recognize that many of the things we do in the next year will be overshadowed by story lines about COVID-19 and its impact on our lives. Like Wiley, I am mindful of the long-term programs, visions, and goals of the OCBA, but I understand that the short-term needs of our members may be different in the year ahead. Like Liz, I know the OCBA will again RISE to the occasion. We will continue to support the judiciary as they work to open the courts and have fully functioning dockets. We will continue to support the Central Florida community by providing lawyer referral services, educational opportunities, and other charitable activities. We will continue to support our members by keeping them informed about the status of the judicial system, by providing CLEs, programs, and other events and by recognizing their talents, hard work, and dedication. This is our legacy and I am committed to continuing it.
We cannot guarantee you what events will actually take place in the coming months or which events will take place in the manner to which you have become accustomed. What we can guarantee is that the OCBA is here for its members and we will continue to find ways to provide member benefits. Not only are we continuing to plan for future events, but we are also diligently working to reschedule some of the signature events that were cancelled in the past few months. For example, we hope to formally recognize our Professionalism Awards recipients later this month, and the Bench Bar Conference has tentatively been rescheduled to October 2, 2020. We are also working on a new and exciting program, as well as revamping some of our luncheons and other programs.
I assume the challenge to lead the OCBA through these unforeseen times. However, I cannot do this alone. I need each and every one of you to take part in this journey. My philosophy has always been equal access and opportunity for all. I have been very deliberate and thoughtful in appointments to the Executive Council, committees, and other positions. I encourage you to be an active committee member in at least one OCBA committee. I invite you to tout your legal knowledge and expertise by submitting articles for publication in the The Briefs. I implore you to reach out to me or any other OCBA Executive Council member with your ideas on ways that the OCBA can assist its members. If you haven’t already done so, please renew your OCBA membership and accept a pro bono case. More importantly, I ask you to embrace the OCBA as an extended family in these difficult times. We have all been living in a virtual world for several weeks. If you haven’t seen or spoken to a fellow OCBA member in a while, pick up the phone and call. You may be the voice that gets him or her through the day. Together, we will get through these difficult times. Stay encouraged. Stay engaged. Stay safe!
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.