We recently took a trip to Washington, D.C.—“our nation’s capital,” as my four-year-old daughter reminded me the whole trip. We toured the Capital and the White House. We stood in the security line alongside congressmen at the Capital and saw the South Lawn from the interior of the White House. We saw the legislature in session. We walked the length of the National Mall, stopping in awe at the memorials along the way. We visited the Supreme Court, the Hirshorn, and the National Museum of Natural History. We did it all in a period of a few days—a typical Roland vacation.
In spite of what is clearly happening behind closed doors there, “our nation’s capital” was surprisingly peaceful and quiet for the few days we were there. There weren’t any obvious protests or riots. Everyone was nice and talkative. There were no signs of tumult. It was the perfect atmosphere to absorb and appreciate both the weight of our history and the impact of our leaders.
We have had so many leaders—both good and bad—throughout our nation’s history. But, regardless of political affiliation or belief, we can call agree there are some who have been great leaders. Martin Luther King Jr., Elizabeth Blackwell, Henry Ford, and Jackie Robinson all come to mind. Fortunately, there are too many to name and count.
So, what are the qualities that make a great leader? Integrity to do what is right even behind closed doors and especially in the face of what isn’t popular. The ability to inspire with words and actions. A perpetually resonating passion and creativity to come up with new ideas and solutions. Focus and grit to carry forth a vision even in the face of obstacles. Generosity and inclusiveness to always bring others into the foal. Persistence and tenacity to keep going even when the going gets rougher than rough. A recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. These are the raw ingredients of great leaders.
As criminal defense lawyers, we all have the qualities of great leaders. We aren’t the go-along-to-get-along type of people. By nature of our chosen profession, we have to speak out and speak loud to effectuate change. We are naturally inclusive and accepting. We continually have to come up with new ideas to challenge the status quo and get relief for our clients. We have to have integrity and grit to succeed in this profession.
TCDLA has been fortunate to have had many great leaders of our profession and organization. Richard “Racehorse” Haynes was one of those leaders. While I did not have the privilege to personally know Mr. Haynes, his reputation as a leader in the world of criminal defense and within TCDLA has always been known and has never been questioned. David Moore is another of those leaders. I have had the privilege of observing and admiring David from afar as a new, young member of TCDLA and working with him within TCDLA. He has the qualities of a great leader and has been helping steer this organization for a number of years. Let us follow his great leadership as we start another year.