President's Report

President's Report - March 2018
By Cynthia McGuinn

On a wall at ABOTA’s National Office in Dallas is a line of photographs depicting the National Presidents of our organization for the past 60 years. These individuals have devoted many years of work in service to ABOTA. I am deeply conscious of the contributions they have made, as well as the contributions our members, our chapters and our regional organizations have made in furtherance of ABOTA’s mission: to preserve the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment.  So, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve this organization, which I love, as your president for 2018.

This year I plan to focus on the following:

  • Continue to expand on ABOTA’s active commitment to advancing diversity

In 2018 ABOTA will have a leadership group like it has never had before.  It has women serving in positions as National President, Foundation President, National Treasurer, Co-Facilitator of the ABOTA Civil Trial Bar Roundtable, Executive Committee members, and 14 women acting as Chairs and Co-Chairs of national committees.  And in 2020, ABOTA will have an African-American National President—another first.

I recognize and acknowledge that these remarkable advancements in diversity could not have been possible without the full support of our male ABOTA brothers.  But we can and will do more.  I ask you to look within your geographical area to identify and nominate qualified candidates for ABOTA to insure your Chapter has a balance of gender and ethnicity.

  • Continue to support and defend an independent judiciary

ABOTA, through its Judicial Independence Committee, will continue to work on a National level and with our Chapters to insure competent, committed and independent judges are defended when unfairly attacked.  And, through our educational programs, we will continue to communicate to the public the importance of the judiciary as an independent third, and equal, branch of our democracy. 

  • Continue the work of Save Our Juries

Save Our Juries is ABOTA’s public-awareness campaign, dedicated to educating the public about the significance of the Seventh Amendment. This is critically important today, perhaps more than ever in our lifetime. Democracy is a participatory form of government, and the more people who actually participate in it — by serving on juries, by voting, by working in elections and by talking about it — the better the system works. I have convened a Roundtable meeting which will take place in Chicago on April 26 to evaluate the direction of SOJ and develop a strategic plan how we can make it more effective in our technology-driven world, now and in years to come. This is a long-term project that I envision will continue with the presidency of Mike Maguire in 2019 and with Luther Batiste in 2020.

  • Seek out collaborations with allies

I adhere to the old aphorism that "a rising tide lifts all boats.”  I have been an ABOTA member and worked at the Chapter, State and National level for years and am familiar with all of our programs.  I truly believe that ABOTA cannot achieve its goals solely on its own.  To that end, we at National will be identifying like-minded organizations with whom ABOTA can partner to enhance our ability to meet our goals.  I hope that you and your Chapters will do so, too, and will consider partnering with those of your local organizations who share our mission statement. 

  • Educate the public that lawyers not only do well — they do good

What we do is important and matters.  But according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on professional public esteem, lawyers continue to be rated at the bottom of the barrel among the 10 professional occupations surveyed. We need to reverse this trend.  Most of us have reached a point in or practice where we have done “well.”   We ABOTA members know that we also do “good” for our bar and our communities.  But often the public does not know who we are or what we do.  I urge you to continue to devote part of your practice to “good” works in your local schools and community organizations and in the process, tell them about ABOTA.  The more the public learns about ABOTA, the better opportunity we have to secure the democracy envisioned by our founders for ourselves and for our future generations.  Never in my lifetime has that been more important than now.  

Thanks for indulging me. It is such a joy to serve an organization made up of people who understand why I’m proud to be a trial advocate.  Here’s to the good fight in 2018.