ABPLA PresidentJanuary 22, 2019

First of all, Happy New Year! This year has started off with a "bang" at the ABPLA.  The subcommittees we formed at the Board Meeting last year in Chicago hit the pavement running, and their work guarantees a phenomenal year for our organization. But, more about that later.


I start by referring to a law review article written by our esteemed Vice President, Thomas P. Sartwelle.  Tom was published in the South Texas College of Law Houston Law Review, Volume 59, Fall 2017, Number I. The title of his article was, "Trial Lawyers, Plumbers, and Electricians: Should They All Be Certified?"


Tom reminds us that... "Four decades ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger made the point that for centuries, society has imposed standards on 'certain human activities [affecting] large numbers of people.' Examples included occupations like teachers, doctors and, in more modern times, electricians, plumbers, and other trades. A glaring omission from those occupations, the Chief Justice pointed out, was trial lawyers. Those engaged in protecting and vindicating rights in civil and criminal courtrooms were neither tested nor licensed beyond the passing score on a general knowledge bar examination. Burger explained: '[W]e are more casual about qualifying the people we allow to act as advocates in the courtrooms than we are about licensing our electricians."


In light of this obvious "cry to arms", we must really ask each other, how far have we progressed?  I certainly recommend each of you obtain a copy of Tom's well thought out law review article, but I also challenge you to do more. Get involved! Join a subcommittee of ABPLA.  Come to our annual conference in New York this May. Help your community understand how important board certification is. Raise the bar, and help your trial lawyer brothers and sisters.


I challenge each of you, as you are reading this, to immediately calendar our conference. It will be held from May 2 -4, 2019, at the Park Lane Hotel in New York City. (I know, springtime in New York is horrible, isn't it?).


Our National Legal and Medical Malpractice Conference is a unique three day CLE for both plaintiff and defense attorneys. It is a must attend event for those who truly wish to perfect their practice and connect with those who are setting the standards in our highly specialized fields of practice.  We have an all-star faculty that has been assembled, both plaintiff's lawyers, defense lawyers, and physicians, who will truly provide the most exciting CLE imaginable. I look forward to seeing all of you in New York!


I close this month's address, as I began, with reference to Tom's law review article: "It is... past time for the legal profession to acknowledge the voices from decades past urging the recognition of specialization certification and implementation of true objectively verifiable competence. Now is the time to institute a pre--or post-licensing specialty certification process leading to trained legal specialists reflecting the professionalism that is called for so often but that is lacking after decades of effort. Changing the paradigm will be difficult. But if not now, when?"