MAY EDITION • 2015
by Scott Bonder
President, DeKalb Bar Association
Thank you again to our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making the DeKalb Bar Association Bench and Bar Dinner a wonderful success. Nearly 360 attendees mixed and mingled at the Druid Hills Golf Club. The crowd seemed to ebb and flow past the several appetizer areas, with the full bar acting as a harbor that allowed for more intimate conversations.
As many of you know, we delayed the dinner by a few weeks to accommodate the Club’s kitchen renovations. The renovations served us well as the food quality was excellent this year for both the appetizers and the dinner itself. Overall, the drinks were pretty darn tasty as well. One notable phenomenon was that each subsequent drink tasted better than its predecessor. I guess they still have some kinks in the system over at Druid Hills.
This year our program deviated a bit from the norm. We took time to thank Jack Fishman for his service. Jack served as the DeKalb Bar’s treasurer for nearly fifteen long years, and he certainly deserved our thanks.
Our Pioneer Award winner, Mary Margaret Oliver, was ably introduced by Hollie Manheimer. Mary Margaret was honored for her history of service to DeKalb County and Georgia overall. Mary Margaret has practiced law and dedicated herself to Georgia almost continuously since 1987 when she first served in the Georgia House or Representative. Since then, she has served in both the Georgia House and Senate from 1987-1992 and then again from 2002 through the present.
Our main speaker, Judge Sara Doyle of the Georgia Court of Appeals was both a good speaker and a good sport. As the attendees learned, Judge Doyle has some Florida connections that make her far more interesting than a mere robe wearing opinion writer. But, you had to be there to learn those personal details. Judge Doyle did an excellent job of updating us on the latest news at her court. The most notable event at the Georgia Court of Appeals that she discussed is the newly approved budget for an entire new panel of judges. Assuming that the Governor signs the bill authorizing this budget increase, the Georgia Court of Appeals will have three new judicial spots in 2016.
I was also very happy with the unofficial post-dinner turnout at the Golf House Bar. A good number of attendees lingered for several hours after the event, which is always a good sign of genuine collegiality.
The Bench and Bar Dinner typically marks the highlight of our year and this year was no exception. To the contrary, I look forward to seeing next year’s Board and Officers try to surpass this on
Enjoy these images from the 2015 Bench and Bar Dinner.
Alston & Bird
Bendin, Sumrall & Ladner, LLC
Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP
Childers Schlueter & Smith, LLC
The Cochran Firm
Fried Rogers Goldberg, LLC
Hedgepeth, Heredia, Rieder
Huff, Powell & Bailey, LLC
Kessler & Solomiany
The Orlando Firm, PC
Pak And McRae Law, LLC
The Summerville Firm LLC
Joe A. Weeks and Joya Davis
Stephanie Stuckey Benfield and Hollie Manheimer
Apolinsky & Associates, LLC
DeWoskin Law Firm
DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
A. Jack Fishman, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fried & Bonder, LLC
Wm. Dixon James, P.C.
Katz Stepp Wright & Fleming, LLC
Krevolin Horst, LLC
Maloof & Maloof
Owen, Gleaton, Egan, Jones & Sweeney, LLP
Russell & Herrera, P.C.
Shewmaker & Shewmaker
Smith & Lake
Law Office of A. Thomas Stubbs, LLC
Warner, Bates, McGough, McGinnis & Portnoy
VanLanduyt Giles LLC
Williams Teusink, LLC
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Chambers & Aholt, LLP
Griffin Bell III P.C.
The Gleklen Law Firm
Hilley & Frieder
Gary M. Kazin Esq.
The McAleer Law Firm
Moore & Reese
Richardson Bloom & Lines LLC
Shuman & Shuman, P.C.
The Sperling Law Group P.C.
Spears & Spears, P.C.
by Daniel DeWoskin
There is no shortage of ways for attorneys to be active in their professional communities. Here in the Metropolitan Atlanta area, we have many county Bar Associations, such as our own Dekalb Bar, as well as the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, The Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, the Korean Bar Association, the Gate City Bar Association, and many, many more.
Each Bar Association has its own goals, strengths, values, and unique character that suits its purposes and its membership. These associations allow for information sharing, mentorship, social interaction and support, professional development, and service to the community. At times, there may be competition for membership, as it is difficult for attorneys to participate meaningfully in many groups. For instance, I spend a great deal of time working with the Dekalb Bar, but also participate in Lawyers Club of Atlanta events, GTLA, and GACDL. There are those times when I must choose which social event I should attend. Of course, there are also those nights when my family would like for me to be home for dinner.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with leadership from more than a dozen local Bar Associations. One of the topics we discussed was how to get younger lawyers involved in local Bar Associations. Although many people focused on how these types of law student and new lawyer memberships could increase numbers in the associations, it seemed as though our collective aim may be off the mark. There is no question that law students and new lawyers could be persuaded to join for the prospects of mentorship and employment opportunities. However, there is a broader appeal and value of local Bar Associations that we who actively participate should be sharing with our membership and prospective membership.
For a young lawyer, joining a local Bar Association to meet someone and hopefully get a job offer in a tough market is a longshot. The young lawyer would certainly meet many, many practicing lawyers and judges whom it would be helpful to know throughout his or her career. This familiarity and involvement in the professional community could thus prove to be far more beneficial in the long run than a simple job offer. In the end, we as local Bar Associations need to be more proactive in demonstrating how our service and role in the community is the answer to a young lawyer’s question, “What will membership in this association do for me and my career?”
I take no issue with this question as I can still remember what it was like when I passed the Bar. I can recall the uncertainty, fear, and intimidation that I felt when I started practicing. Fortunately, I was quick to join certain organizations which had listserves, publications, social functions, and other programming that put me in contact with dozens of experienced colleagues who would generously lend an ear and even provide more hands-on assistance when I had a case that called for it. Today, I actively look for moments when I can provide similar guidance or assistance to new lawyers.
Local Bar Associations can be influential in the community, they can provide valuable continuing legal education opportunities that cater to their specific membership, and they can create a diverse atmosphere culturally and socially that can work for better communication and understanding. The fact is that virtually every practicing attorney, be it for professional development or community involvement, should participate in at least one local Bar Association. As members of these associations, we should work to expand our programming and engage with other local associations.