What does it mean when we say we are an association? How do we, all 3,000-plus of us, go about the business of associating? The secret is in deciding what we mean when we join efforts and interests in a common cause.
So I asked Shirley MacLaine to see if she could channel up former President John F. Kennedy and ask him if he had any advice for us. She did, and he said (you can see this one coming, right?): Ask not what TCDLA can do for you. Ask what you can do for TCDLA. All right. I was just messing with you. I didn’t really talk to Shirley, but it is not bad advice.
When we decide, as we have, that we have common interests and that we can benefit by the strength numbers provide, then we join or “associate” to pursue them. All 3,000 of us. We have committed to encouraging cooperation with each other and presenting the best continuing legal education product possible. Most of the time we succeed. Sometimes we hit a rough patch of pavement that tests the strength of our commitment to continue “associating.”
To each of you who have accepted the responsibility of serving on a committee, being a course director at a seminar, speaking at a seminar, or serving on the associate board or board of directors or as an officer, I say thank you. These services require significant amounts of time away from your practices and real self-sacrifice on behalf of the association. What I want you to think about is what has motivated you to do so. My hope is that self-promotion or ego massage is way down or off the list of reasons that have motivated you. We are all over the State of Texas handling everything from shoplifting to capital murder. Some of you take on varied misdemeanors and felonies. Some of you have more specialized practices. Each of you by joining this association has taken on responsibilities and duties owed to the whole group. You have accepted a fiduciary loyalty to the association. This is the price we all pay for the privilege of being a part of an association. It is a small and appropriate price, given the goals of TCDLA to encourage cooperation among members and to educate lawyers.
We may not always vote unanimously on a particular decision. We may occasionally find ourselves on the losing side of a particular question. It would be odd indeed if every vote were blindly unanimous. When there are differences and they are settled, then we move on as a united and effective association. To do otherwise would not do justice to the association and the responsibilities we have accepted as members. To march off to the tune of a pied piper would be a shame. Let that never be the case. This association needs the wisdom and input of every one of you. I’ve said it before. United we will stand. United our potential is limitless.