Barry L. Lippitt, Esq.
I have just returned from the 82nd Annual Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, where I was inducted for a third consecutive term as National Chancellor of TER. The convention's highlight was the keynote address by Hon. Janet Reno, former Attorney-General of the United States. Following are the remarks I made to the assembly prior to the keynote address:
Before beginning my remarks, I want everyone to know who is responsible for this year’s convention, which has been exemplary in every way. First, I want to thank tonight’s keynote speaker, the Hon. Janet Reno, for accepting our invitation to join us this evening. I am sure we are all looking forward to her remarks because, as we can tell from the issues she champions, that she shares our Society’s dedication to truth, ethics, and righteousness in the practice of law, particularly in terms of service to the pubic. I’d also like to thank PNC Stuart Markus, who arranged tonight’s program. Second, I’d like to thank our National Scholar, Joel Kaufman, who organized this year’s CLE program, as well as our speakers, Joel, himself, and the Hon. Leon Katz of Philadelphia who rejoins us this year, and whom we all hope to see at our conventions for many years to come. Everyone found the programs very useful and entertaining, and we appreciate the obvious effort both speakers put into preparing the materials for us. Third, I want to thank our Executive Director, Alan Tepper, who, as always works unobtrusively in the background to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Finally, I’d like to thank our convention chair, David Liner, who, year after year, works hard to find a convention location that meets our needs and delights those attending the convention.
Tonight, I begin my third consecutive term as chancellor of this distinguished organization, along with my returning executive committee. I understand that I am the first chancellor to serve 3 consecutive terms in our modern era, which Alan informs me means as far back as he can remember. While some have suggested that I will remain chancellor at least until I run out of the personalized envelopes we printed 2 years ago, I prefer to think that selecting this slate of officers for a third term is an expression of confidence of the direction we have chosen for the Society and its members.
Over the past year, we have worked on a variety of projects that will help ensure the long-term health of our organization. Our signature member service, the TER LawNet referral service, is now online, streamlined for use, and up to date. This service remains available for our members to use for member to member referrals as well as a means of advertising, internally, of our respective particular areas of practice. In addition, with the LawNet now available on the internet, we provide the public with an opportunity to use our member network to find attorneys to assist with their particular problems. From monitoring access statistics for the website, we are receiving an increasing number of visitors to the site, and we will be expanding the cross-listing of our site at various search engine services in the first quarter of the year.
In addition, this year we will begin the process of moving all of our important information to the site for our members’ convenience, including back issues of the Summons, minutes of and photographs from the meetings and conventions, and regular announcements of significant accomplishments by our members in their professional, personal, and Societal lives.
We are also moving forward with plans to assist the Schwartzberg Scholarship Foundation in seeking out new sources of revenues and contributions. The Foundation makes possible many of our programs at both the local and national levels, through its generous program of underwriting. It is incumbent on all of our members, if for no reason other than self-interest, to see to the funding of the Foundation through new sources of endowment and contributions. I want to thank the Foundation’s president, Hugh Schwartzberg, and the other trustees: Sy Kivitz, Dick Janger, and Dave Dworkin, for responding to our requests "on demand". In the next couple of months, we will be announcing various joint initiatives with the Foundation, and hope you will give them serious consideration. The first of these will be a resumption of an organized tribute program that will benefit the Foundation, which will be the perfect opportunity when the need arises to recognize fellow TER members in times of both accomplishment and sorrow.
While we have a significant upside, we still are facing issues serious to the continued health of the organization. Our records show that nearly 40% of our members are in dues-exempt status due to age. Unfortunately, while our membership is aging, our new member recruitment is not keeping pace. It is vital that we aggressively work on recruiting new members into TER. The best way to do this is for each member to make it a personal goal to bring in one new member each year, or help a lapsed member return to the fold. This is particularly important to our national members, not affiliated with a particular active graduate chapter. Such recruitment will enable us to bring local chapters back to life, and, I can assure you, the National Council and your officers stand ready to assist with any effort to breath new life into these chapters. Every member with a child in law school or in practice should make it their FIRST priority to recruit that child into the organization. From there, reach out to your associates. From there, reach out to your other contacts in the bar. But, in any event, find at least one new member this year.
New membership will go far in helping us face our future with success, but we need to find the next generation of leadership as well. The dedication of officers who continue to serve year after year is appreciated and important, but we also need new faces and fresh ideas so that we don’t go stale in our thinking. The people at this convention are here because you have an interest in the National organization. When you return home, reach out to your local members and explain the benefits of being involved at the national level. We will find a project for each person who expresses an interest to serve at the National level, and we will find a National office for each person with a desire to become a National officer.
In closing, tonight we mark our 82nd annual gathering as comrades with a shared purpose, promoting truth, ethics, and righteousness in the practice of law. At times it seems as though our members stand alone in remembering that the practice of law is not akin to war. Our legal system is designed to promote the resolution of disputes through civil and negotiated resolution, trusting to a disinterested arbiter only when such negotiation fails. While lawyers, and trial lawyers in particular, have come in for much criticism in the past several years, some deserved and some undeserved – and we should not forget the debt of gratitude we owe our friends in the accounting profession for taking their share of the spotlight this year – in my 22 years of practicing law, I have never come across a member of TER, whether through direct involvment in the same matter, or through indirect observation in a courtroom, who has conducted his or her self and the representation of their client in anything other than a courteous, civil, and professional manner. We do not push the limits of zealous representation, but provide the example of how the profession of law should be practiced.
I am PROUD to be a member of Tau Epsilon Rho.
On behalf of the Executive Committee, I thank you for the confidence you demonstrate in us by giving us a continuing opportunity to serve the membership and the society.
Following the keynote address (which we hope to post on the website in the near future), the Society presented its inaugural Award for Distinguished Public Service to Ms. Reno, with the following explanation for the award:
Tau Epsilon Rho emphasizes the pursuit of and adherence to Truth, Ethics, and Righteousness in the practice of law, administration of justice, and service to the public.
In her years of public service, Janet Reno has been a living exemplar of our organization’s philosophy.
Accordingly, it is my great pleasure and privilege to present the inaugural Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society Award for Distinguished Public Service to the former Attorney General of the United States, the Hon. Janet Reno.
The Tau Epsilon Rho - Schwartzberg Scholarship Foundation made the generous decision to present an honorarium in conjunction with the award. Ms. Reno's designated charity was the Children's Defense Fund.
All told, this was one of the most successful conventions in recent history, and everyone had a wonderful time. I hope that all attendees will come back for our next convention, and that many of you will make the decision to join or rejoin us in December.
Barry L. Lippitt
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