Ncatl President's Message

NCATL Around the State Magazine

May / June 1997

NCATL PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Wade Byrd

Copyright © 1997 by North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers; Wade Byrd

As I pause to reflect on this year in this my final opportunity to do so in an Academy publication as your President, many people, pictures, and events are going through my mind. Let me address a few of these.

The legislature is still in session. As of this writing, we are hours away from having defeated an attempt to abolish the collateral source rule in the General Assembly. This I believe is a stunning defeat for the tort deformers and an equally stunning victory for the Academy. Herein in an article by Dick Taylor you will find more detail. However, I would be remiss in failing to recognize our lobbying staff team of Dick, Charles Cromer, and Jill Miller, together with an unprecedented barrage of letters, phone calls, and testimony from you, our members, all of which has been truly remarkable. All of those people who played a part deserve our sincere appreciation for a job well-done.

While the legislative battles have been going on, I have been traveling around the state quietly raising money for the new phase of the Capital Campaign or Vision 2000 about which you now know. I have been blown away by the generosity and love of this organization that has been demonstrated by those who have pledged approximately $700,000 in this phase. As of this writing, a small number of trial lawyers from across North Carolina have pledged or donated in excess of One Million Dollars to retire the debt on the building by the year 2000; and though we are not through, we only have about $400,000 more to raise to finish the job. This has been my top priority because I believe it to be so critical to the long-term ability of this organization to grow and to perform at the level we need. I beg you, if you have not already done so, to put into your operating budget for 1997-2000 a figure that you can pledge to this campaign, from $250 to $1000 per year for four years. In doing so, each of you will know that you not only have an ownership stake in our beautiful new building - debt free - but that you have also made a personal commitment to enhance the future course of this organization to do better in every aspect of our mission.
If, at the same time, I could somehow convince you to become a PAC contributor so that we would have more money to help elect women and men - to the courts, to the General Assembly, and to the Council of State - who we believe possess our ideals of helping the common man, preserving the right to trial by jury, and preserving individual rights and liberties, and if you would respond within the next two months, I would then be secure in the knowledge that this year has been a success.

Until every one of us fully realizes that we have to designate a portion of our earnings to keep this Academy able to effectively operate, those very same earnings are going to be jeopardized. Every time the legislature convenes, every time an important issue is before the appellate courts in need of Amicus help, and every time we have an opportunity to get our message to the public through the Peoples' Law Schools and the Wade Edwards High School Mock Trial Competition, we must be ready. If each of us commits ourselves and our funds to the operation and function of the Academy, we will know that in all of these arenas we are doing the very best that we can.
I am so proud to be a trial lawyer and to be your President. What we do in giving our clients a fighting chance against manufacturers of unsafe products, to ensure safety in the home, at school, in the hospital, on the highways and in the workplace, to preserve access to justice and dignity when injured and, yes, even when accused of crime - are all objectives of extreme import and represent a very high calling. You and I are very fortunate to be in such a position of trust and responsibility for the clients who do us the honor of calling us "my lawyer."

I will have an opportunity to personally thank the staff of the Academy, the Board of Governors, and the Executive Committee for all that they have done this year at our Annual Convention at Ocean Creek (which I beg you to attend), but I deeply thank all of them here for their commitment to you, the members, and to this organization.
Finally, thank you for allowing me to be your President and for helping where and when I asked you to. Thank you for being courageous and dedicated to your clients and to your profession. We have a long way to go, but we're making some pretty big strides. The future is bright and working together with high ideals, there is no limit to what we can achieve "for justice, for tolerance (and) for man's understanding of man."
1997 WL 33378929 (NCATL)