Of all the organizations I’m involved in, the BCJA is my favorite. When I was a law student, I clerked for Morris Finkel, who was then President of this group. Morris, now one of my partners, brought me as his guest to a monthly dinner meeting. That evening had a profound effect on me, and helped form my decision to become a Plaintiff Trial Lawyer. I remember that meeting well: it was held at the Riverside Hotel, and while sitting in on Case Evaluation I was stunned at the free exchange of knowledge, opinions and assistance. The dinner was likewise memorable, not so much for the food (some things never change) but because the speaker and topic were timely and interesting, and I got to sit at Morris’ table with Judges and lawyers whose names, while unfamiliar to me at the time, have become very familiar indeed. The room that night was packed. There were at least 100 people in attendance, and there was an overwhelming sense of collegiality. Everyone was on the same team, fighting for good people.
When I was elected to the Executive Board of Directors in 2004, our membership was down, and dinner meeting attendance was closer to 30 people than 100. Times had changed. Tort reform had become a reality. “Trial Lawyers” were under attack by the media, the insurance industry and politicians. The settlement and verdict values of our cases had dropped precipitously. We were working harder than ever before to get good results for our clients and to earn a living for ourselves. Being an active part of organizations like the BCTLA seemed to me to be more important and valuable than ever. Unfortunately, given everything else our beleaguered membership was dealing with, participation had slipped.
We’re a much stronger, viable organization than we were back in 2004. I stand on the shoulders of giants in this regard. I served with and witnessed the hard work and leadership of Past Presidents Brad Winston, Russ Adler, Alex Clark, Bob Rogers, Jon Pavsner and Julie Hager that revitalized the BCJA.
And yet, I often meet Plaintiff Personal Injury lawyers here in Broward County that aren’t members of our organization, or the FJA. I don’t get it. I realize there are only so many hours in the day, and only so many voluntary Bar associations one can realistically be active in. But, if one is a Plaintiff Personal Injury lawyer, joining the BCJA and FJA seems like a “no brainer”. Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to mix and mingle with the local Judiciary and colleagues at the monthly dinner meetings, membership in the BCJA gives one access to the collective knowledge, wisdom and experience of some of the finest lawyers in the State.
The more members we have, the stronger we become. The stronger our organization becomes, the more empowered and effective we become as practitioners, lobbyists and advocates. Let’s welcome back those who have left, and open our arms to the hundreds of potential new members in Broward County.