Sunday, September 1, 2013

Editor's Message: A Sense Of Community

By Rena Upshaw-Frazier

I was ecstatic when Susan Johnson-Velez asked me to serve as this year's editor of the Lawyer magazine. It is not often that one gets to take part in an award-winning publication in such a meaningful position. It was even more special that this publication is one that my colleagues, mentors, and legal peers read regularly and hold in high regard.

I think back to reading the Lawyer magazine as a “baby” attorney, looking for pictures of anyone I knew ― or wanted to know ― at the Bar events, and discussing the articles with colleagues. Sometimes, a mentor would flag an article for me to read.

This magazine has been and is an integral part of our legal community. I immediately accepted the position.

Of course, my wide-eyed enthusiasm did not come without some trepidation. I know that the position comes with great responsibility. It requires excruciating attention to detail and a keen sense of policy and tradition. Time pressures and deadlines are inherent to the role.

With a busy litigation practice, active participation in community associations, and three school-aged children, I had ― actually, still have ― a bit of anxiety about meeting the expectations.

However, my trepidation pales in comparison to the honor that I feel in contributing to an organization and publication that provide a foundation and sense of community for our legal profession.

The Lawyer magazine allows us to glimpse into the legal issues that are important to our colleagues practicing within our legal areas, other legal areas, and the judiciary. It keeps us current on upcoming Bar events and opportunities, and it shows us what we missed at those that we could not attend. It tells us who has a new position and who won a distinguished award so we may send notes of congratulations. It tells us about pro bono opportunities and highlights the work and missions of our colleagues dedicated to helping those who cannot help themselves.

At the risk of sounding foolishly sentimental, the Lawyer magazine bridges the gap formed by the physical distance of our community and brings us a little closer together.

With the divisive matters that at times overwhelm society, a sense of support, foundation, and community is important.

Politically, socially, and racially sensitive trials and elections garner national media attention. Sometimes we internalize negativity toward those whose outlooks, views, or leanings differ from ours. Current events sometimes become taboo in discussions among colleagues for fear of exposing differences with deep, emotional connotations.

However, differences are important and necessary in a functioning community. Recognizing and accepting those differences allows us to understand and appreciate our similarities. Together, our differences and similarities merge to form a sense of community ― our legal community. In that vein, we hope that you enjoy our cover theme this year, highlighting photographs that showcase the diversity of our community.

Thank you for allowing me to embark on this new Bar year with you and trusting me with this special position. I hope to increase everyone’s sense of community.