POST #7, May 5, 2016–WHAT A BAR ASSOCIATION WE HAVE!

We have really been slammed around here the last two weeks, which, I guess, is a good thing, but it’s bad for updating this blog.  After almost two weeks, I’m back again, and I want to touch on a subject near and dear to my heart, the Greene County Bar Association.

In Greene County, Tennessee, where this practice is based, we have approximately 85-90 attorneys.  While that seems like a lot for a county with a population of just above 60,000, it is noted that one of the four Federal Courthouses in the 40-plus county Eastern District of Tennessee is right here.  Thus, we have a lot of attorneys who work for the Federal Government.  Also, the District Attorney General for our 4-county state judicial district resides here and, as a result, he and most of his assistants are here.  Throw in some judges, and persons who are part-time practitioners, like my friend, Bob Jenkins, who was an active trial lawyer in Mississippi for many years, retired here, and practices part-time, and you have your usual compliment of attorneys.

Despite that, throughout my career, we had neither an active nor a happy bar association here.  There were two large schisms in this Bar, and, at the very infrequent social events held by the Bar, neither side would speak to the other.  This was not the situation in other bar associations around us, even in medium sized cities such as Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol, where members of the Bar got along very collegially.

Then Curt Collins got elected President of the Bar, and everything started to change.

A bit about Curt.  He went to law school in Florida.  He is the son of Schery Collins, who was the long-time secretary of Circuit Judge Ben Wexler, whom I mentioned in the earlier post about my father and the armed gunman, and has been the long-time secretary of his successor, Circuit Judge Tom Wright.  Curt and the other youngsters (I call them “the Chipmunks”), such as Bar vice-president Elijah Settlemyre of Milligan and Coleman, husband and wife team Joseph and Jessica McAfee, and others, basically said to all of us, “You need to get your heads out of your asses, because we need to be united as a Bar.”

I write this because, today, we had nearly 30 attorneys at a delicious Bar luncheon that the Greene County Bar Association put on at a local restaurant.  These were attorneys of all stripes who, if a seer had predicted the future five years ago, would not have predicted that they would all be sitting in the same room and the same meeting, having a great time, swapping war stories and leaning on each other….and getting an hour of CLE to boot (Curt and Elijah arranged that, also).  Under Curt’s leadership, we have had annual and semi-annual Bar parties, and other things that make this often stressful profession a helluva lot less stressful.

So to Curt, Elijah, and all of you “youngsters:”  Thanks for teaching this old dog new tricks…..however, that still doesn’t mean I’ll be there on pro bono day!

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