This is one of the oldest maxims around – and usually true when speaking of dynamically motivated and forward thinking components. In my many years of active participation in my SLDO and DRI, there is no better description of the relationship than “greater than the sum of its parts.” DRI began its formal relationship with State and Local Defense Organizations (SLDOs) in 1965, when DRI itself was only five years old. Since that time, the relationships have strengthened and become symbiotic.
DRI knows nearly all there is to know about every SLDO in the country and actively works to strengthen those critical components of the advancement of the defense bar. Let’s face it – like politics, sometimes all civil defense is local. Legislatures, judges, plaintiff’s bar groups, trade associations, chambers of commerce; all of these entities are making an impact on your defense practice in your state every day. At the same time, many of the issues being addressed have happened elsewhere or there are experts who can help in other states. Here is where DRI comes in, perfectly positioned to provide vast resources that one state group might not be able to sustain. DRI provides speakers, papers, experts, guidance, and practical advice. DRI helps build websites, provides fully constructed educational programs, creates avenues for SLDOs to address issues with their peer groups, provides amicus support on groundbreaking legal questions, provides support and development for structure and administration, and provides template long range planning guides. The list could go on and on because, in reality, DRI will and has stepped up to help with virtually any need that an SLDO can present.
Why? Because DRI knows that the civil defense bar is strongest when all of the lawyers in the practice have as much access as possible to the five goals of its mission – education of the lawyer, justice in the civil justice system, balance of plaintiff and defense perspective in the public mind, strengthening the economic stability of the defense practitioner, and promoting professionalism all across the bar. Not every lawyer can partake of DRI’s offerings in the national scope at seminars across the country. Perhaps not every defense lawyer has a practice that needs such a national scope. Every one of us, though, needs to meet those five goals right in our own backyards. The SLDOs can provide each of these elements and can do so on a broader and more cost effective scale with DRI’s participation. DRI in return sees the holistic picture of the defense bar across the country and can quickly and affirmatively address developing concerns as they begin the spread to other jurisdictions.
So, if you aren’t active in your SLDO, seek it out. It has something to offer you right there in your playground. If you are active in your SLDO and have not yet engaged with DRI, take advantage of the opportunities to do so with direct benefit to your SLDO. And as a bonus, there is never a down side for DRI and SLDO members getting to know one another – you might pick up a referral, you might pick up a lead, you might pick up a friend.
Margaret Fonshell Ward – Ward & Herzog, Baltimore, MD