An internet search result attributes one of my favorite phrases to a book written in 1884 by James Wells of the United Free Church of Scotland. Wells tells the story of a young girl obviously struggling while carrying her rather large baby brother. When asked if she was tired from her visible toiling, “[w]ith surprise she replied: ‘No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.’”
What I especially like about this telling are the words “with surprise.” It never even occurred to this small girl that what the world saw as her present problem was, in her mind, her perpetual privilege.
When I think of all of the lawyers I have worked with (and against) over nearly twenty years of practice, I know well the amount of work behind the scenes and into the small hours of morning to present a case in court. I know all that goes into finalizing a set of documents that could literally save a client’s livelihood or even life. I know that our profession is at our best when we see our chance to help a client in the same way that young girl saw her chance to carry her brother: a privilege.
As we head into this new bar year, I now have the privilege of serving each of you with the help of so many dedicated and talented lawyers on our Board of Directors, who apparently so love the practice of law that they want to spend even more time with other lawyers: President-Elect Dawn Finlayson, Treasurer Lawrence Morales, II, Secretary Donna McElroy, and Directors Steve Chiscano, Grant McFarland, Patty Vargas, Jamie Vasquez, Charla Davies, Charlie Deacon, Loraine Efron, and Nick Guinn.
We are also blessed with amazing committee chairs: Brad Sklencar (Civil Courts), Steven Treu (County Courts), Bobby Barrera (Criminal District Courts), Leslie Hyman (Federal Courts), Gilbert Vara (Fee Disputes), Elizabeth LaBarge (Medical/Legal Liaison), Maribel Cordova Wasmiller (Membership), Patty Vargas (Probate Courts), Sara Dysart (Law School), Chief Judge Orlando Garcia and Jaclyn Roberson (Law Week), Dustin Whittenberg (Lawyer Referral), Tom Crosley (Library), and the dynamic duo of Jane Macon and Dawn Finlayson (Programming).
And, of course, still on the board for one more year in the best position of all—Immediate Past President—the indefatigable Tom Crosley, who was steady at the helm as we weathered storms not seen in living memory. Alongside him through it all like the Rock of Gibraltar has been Executive Director June Moynihan and her dedicated staff, who have worked so tirelessly through various crises to engage with and be present to the members of our bar community and the larger community they serve.
I leave you now near where we began, with the lyrics from He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, a song popular in the decade I was born:
His welfare is my concern